The argument over what came first, the chicken or the egg is never going to get resolved; however, when the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport was released before the extended length three-row addition. It was never really clear why the shorter, 5-passenger crossover was named Sport before the 3-row was ever released. The argument is neither here nor there now as for 2019, the name has been dropped to lessen confusion over which is which.
Though 2019 just didn’t drop the name, it brought in a full redesigned to the nameplate. Continuing down a whole new bold path, the Santa Fe is supporting an jarring overhaul that definitely takes Hyundai down a diverse path. Following in the footsteps of the Kona, the Santa Fe carries a courageous aspect with a split headlight and daytime running light scheme – same for the rear taillights with the indicators and backups being placed in the lower bumper separated from the taillights. It’s something that some automakers have attempted, but not quite skillfully acquired in the past – Hyundai here represent a more eye-catching methodology to its guise. Although we still question the rear indicator placement.
Carried over from the previous generation, the Santa Fe offers to forms of power – a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder rated at 185-horsepower or a 2.0-liter turbocharged variant with 235-horsepower featured on either the Limited or Ultimate trim levels. Both engines get matted to an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission, and as seen here on the 2.0T, the Santa Fe provides adequate propulsion to do the task at hand. Even with a more powerful turbocharged engine, the Santa Fe isn’t going to provide the quickest form of acceleration as getting to 60 mph requires roughly eight seconds. When duty calls however, it performs enough satisfaction to make us compelled to go with the turbo over the standard engine.
With improvements made to the chassis and suspension, the Santa Fe also provides a more premium quality ride than before. It feels more solid and established to the asphalt with relatively decent road mannerism and driver feedback. The electrically powered steering rack falls near the numb range of the enthusiasm category, but one quick push of a button into SPORT mode and watch the TFT digital gauges change over it an energetic red ambiance and the steering becomes more close-fitting as well as the gear changes.
With the weight of the Santa Fe pushing 4,000lbs, the new eight-speed transmission lingers towards the fuel efficient side of the curve. Suave upshifts keep things in motion – while the exhausted downshifts on the other hand bring about dramatic turbo lag and the need to apply more unwanted acceleration tampered our fuel economy. At the end of the day we managed to foresee 22 mpg combined fuel economy over both city and highway runs.
As for now, the Santa Fe remains a five-passenger crossover with an XL variation in the works. Rumor has it that Hyundai is working on a larger eight-passenger crossover, but that is just a rumor for now. This does puts the Santa Fe in a peculiar place in the market contending alongside the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Carrying additional dramatic changes, the interior gets a broad refurbishment. Our top trimmed Ultimate features just about everything anyone would want out of a modern, premium crossover. With features like a power lift tailgate, panoramic sunroof, Heads-Up Display, a Heated Steering Wheel, rear window sunshades, and heated back seats, what more could we ask for?
The new design carries a handsome array of soft touch materials throughout the cabin with an attractive use of metal and leather on the door panels and dash. Every surface feels just as premium as any car reaching the fifty grand mark; yet the Santa Fe Ultimate is a one-stop-shop of $38,200. All Santa Fe’s get sizable equipped features such as a TFT instrument display, Apple CarPlay/Android, and all the latest safety gadgets like Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Forward Collision Alert with Autonomous Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control and Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross Traffic Detection – all as a standard feature.
Upgrading to the Ultimate brought in premium features like the larger 8-inch touch screen infotainment system, ventilated front seats, and an all-around 360-degree view camera. The Ultimate also incorporated dual-pane windows providing a quiet, calming cabin that help reduce road and wind noise. Our gorgeous crème leather upholstery made for a surprising accent against the Santa Fe’s unique brown headliner that added a charismatic comfort to its cabin. The seats provided the upmost comfortable support with never ending complements following the rear seats.
While the Santa Fe may have lost a name in its title, it continues to offer that family utilitarian comfort and cargo capacity we all desire from a mid-size crossover. Consumers will find all sorts of pleasantries out of the Santa Fe, starting with its base price of $25,500 and long list of standard features.