REVIEW: New Santa Fe leads the way for Hyundai

Hyundai is on the offence, unleashing multiple new products all within a span of just a couple of years.

In fact, with so many new models arriving, it can be hard to keep track of them all. There are no less than six new or redesigned SUVs already introduced or coming out in the next few years.  Of these, the most significant entry is the all-new 2019 Santa Fe.

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The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe replaces the five-passenger Santa Fe Sport. The seven-passenger 2018 version of the Santa Fe is now renamed as the Santa Fe XL, and a new eight-passenger “full-size” model will be making an appearance soon as the Palisade. The name Hyundai stands for modernity in the Korean language, and according to the vehicle maker this “H-Factor” is the word that represents the all-new Santa Fe accurately.

Design

It is clear just by looking at the 2019 model how much Hyundai wanted to set it apart from the predecessor. The 2019 model is curvier, bolder, and has a chrome accent bar running across the bottom. The grille is referred to as “cascading” by Hyundai, and is more stylish and vertically inclined. The head and taillights appear thinner and sharper. Even the windows are 40 per cent larger for this year, bringing in a more “airy” feel throughout the cabin. All around, the Santa Fe is a handsome and confident-looking crossover SUV.

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Hyundai has unleashed multiple new products in just the past couple of years, but the most important of all may be the all-new 2019 Santa Fe. It’s a handsome and confident SUV with some innovative safety features. It is available at Jim Pattison Hyundai in the Northshore Auto Mall. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

Hyundai is the only global automaker to manufacture their own steel and use it in a framework they refer to as the “Superstructure.” This features structural adhesives placed strategically to protect critical areas for passengers, making it safer overall in the case of an accident. In addition, the 2019 Santa Fe now boasts such things as multi-link suspension setup, a stiffer body, and improved chassis all around. This results in a confident, sturdy ride that is fitting for this SUV.

The IIHS gives the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe a Top Safety Pick + rating, but only if you choose a trim other than the base level. This is due to the inclusion of Hyundai SmartSense safety technology that is standard on all but the base model. The SmartSense safety includes the forward Collision-Avoidance, Lane Keep Assist, and Driver Attention Warning, to name the key items.

Two new safety features that are worth mentioning are the Rear Occupant Alert and the world’s first Safe Exit Assist. The Rear Occupant Alert will let the driver know if he or she leaves the vehicle and has left a child or pet in the back seat. The system will make a noise by sounding the horn and also send a message to the owner’s smartphone.

Safe Exit Assist will alert the driver by keeping the door locked if they attempt to open the door in an unsafe situation, such as the presence of an upcoming motorcycle, car, or bicycle approaching from the rear.

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The Santa Fe’s interior feels roomy and airy due to a lower placed dashboard, while quality materials and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make for a comfortable cabin. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

The interior feels roomy and airy due to a lower placed dashboard and larger windows, and quality materials add flair to the already functional display. The Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on this model (Toyota, are you listening?). Other notable changes are roomier interior and a larger cargo capacity, which by the way, is accessed with a power lift gate (the cargo capacity is 2,019 litres with the seats folded flat and 1,016 litres with the seats up). All passengers can enjoy and travel in comfort with a generous amount of head, leg and shoulder room in this Hyundai. 

Performance

There are two engine options available with the all-new Santa Fe. The standard, carried over 2.4-litre GDI engine produces 185 horsepower and 178 foot-pounds of torque. The better engine option is a 2.0-litre turbocharged GDI that produces 235 h.p. and 260 foot-pounds torque. Both options come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and an optional HTRAC All-Wheel Drive upgrade.

The 2.0-litre turbo four is much quicker than the base 2.4-litre non-turbo, hitting 100 kilometres per hour a few seconds earlier. The turbo four is smooth, quiet and highly refined, and its ample power makes you think that you might be driving an SUV with a V-6 engine.

The handling is well balanced and predictable, and the brakes feel more than adequate. The Santa Fe strikes a good balance between firmer, sportier German competitors such as the Audi Q5 and the softer, family-car style Japanese models like the Toyota RAV4. When compared directly face-to-face, however, the Honda CR-V still delivers better road character and the all-new Toyota RAV4 may also prove to be a formidable competitor.

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An innovative safety feature will send you an alert if you’ve left a child or pet in the back seat. photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

Fuel economy for the 2.4-litre engine and front-wheel drive is 10.7/8.2/9.6 litres/100 kilometres for city/highway/combined, and 11.2/8.7/10.1 l/100 km if you choose all-wheel drive. For the upgraded 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, fuel economy is estimated to be 12.3/9.8/11.2 l/100 km.

Summary

In Canada, the 2019 Santa Fe comes in four trim levels: Essential, Preferred, Luxury, and Ultimate. I would recommend the Preferred trim and up, purely because none of the safety features beyond airbags and anti-lock brakes are included with the base level Essential trim.

Hyundai offers one of the best-backed five-year warranties on offer in Canada, which is another perk that may sweeten the deal for potential buyers. The price starts with a very affordable $28,999 for the Essential FWD Santa Fe, and all the way up to $44,999 for the top-level Ultimate AWD Santa Fe. The all-new design and features of the 2019 Santa Fe bring it a step closer to perfection.

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