I’ve always had a crush on the Hyundai Santa Fe. It’s like I am back during those awkward early high school years. My chubby cheeks and braces have returned. I’m fat. So fat. And the Hyundai Santa Fe is the girl; you know, the valedictorian who is going to a prestigious university and will become a boss lawyer. Every guy is in love with her and I suddenly, on a whim, decide to ask her to the winter formal.
Except I don’t ever get the courage to ask her out.
This describes my relationship with the Hyundai Santa Fe. Despite my work in the automotive industry, I’ve never driven one. Never even been close. Never even been a passenger in one. I have simply marveled from afar, even going to Hyundai dealerships after they are closed to look at them. I realize this is nuts. I like a lot of vehicles – it’s a side effect of this profession – but the Santa Fe just really stands out to me.
Power & Performance
The most amazing girl in school just become more so with a new diesel engine in the mix for 2019. In total, the new Santa Fe will offer three engines: a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder with 185 horsepower, or a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 235 horsepower (estimated). The 2.2-liter diesel option definitely comes from left field, but it’s a welcome surprise with 190 horsepower (3,800 rpm) and 322 lb-ft. of torque between 1,750 – 2,500 rpm. Hyundai says the torque figure is an estimation for now, but that’s still a healthy amount.
All engines are mated to a Hyundai-designed eight-speed automatic, a lighter more efficient transmission replacing the outgoing six-speed. With the extra ratio range, expert better acceleration and improved fuel economy. Among the most interesting features is a multi-disc and individually controlled hydraulic channel torque converter, said to improve responsiveness. Further, the oil pump was downsized and double ball bearings added to minimize friction loss.
The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe comes in both front and all-wheel drive. It’s your choice.
I admit my bias here, but a quick glance at the new Santa Fe proves just how easy it is on the eyes. Up front is Hyundai’s signature Cascading Grille, followed by a “Composite Light” design which consists of LED daytime running lamps. Hyundai says (and I laughed a bit even) the “wide stance and athletic body makes a statement from 100 feet away.” Well, yes, true but if I personally owned a Santa Fe I would never want to be a 100 feet away from it.
Again, admitting my bias – I will focus – back to our walk around.
Looking at the side, what is most noticeable is the character line that arches from the headlights to the taillights. The outside mirrors are mounted lower and further rearward and the A-pillars have decreased in size. Diamond-cut 19-inch wheels are available for a little extra flare – not exactly necessary for a family vehicle, but still nice to have.
Here is where Hyundai really dials in, providing a number of updates and luxury touches inside. The premium treatments include a layered, three-dimensional instrument panel, contrasting seat stitching, and an aircraft-inspired heads-up display. Convenience-wise, the center screen was tilted specifically to reduce glare, the window switches and grab handles were moved forward for more elbow room, and the height and length of the center armrest grew.
The area between the first and second rows was enlarged while the floor was slightly lowered – these design changes allow for less clutter and more legroom. Total interior volume, if you opt for the third row, is 150.7 cubic feet. Incidentally, the long wheelbase three-row version is renamed “Santa Fe XL” for 2019.
Safety is always a priority for families and the Hyundai Smart Sense package should provide peace of mind. The system includes a number of advanced safety and driver-assist systems like forward collision warning, blind spot detection, lane keeping assist, and rear cross traffic/collision avoidance.
Pricing & Availability
Expect the 2019 Santa Fe at Hyundai dealerships this summer with pricing announced closer to that time. In the meantime, it’s on display at the New York International Auto Show, now through April 8th at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. With sales of more than 1.5 million units, the Santa Fe is Hyundai’s best-selling SUV in the United States.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.
Photos & Source: Hyundai Motor America.