May 28, 2023

Global Business News

First Drive: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

First Drive, Hyundai Santa Fe 2019

That the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe name now applies to a spacious, five-seat family crossover SUV is no surprise.

For Hyundai, “Santa Fe” is kept for the people-pleasing tall wagon that’s less offensive than Thomas Kinkade.

The automaker’s blitz of new SUVs to complement its once-bare cupboard of crossovers means that seemingly every month Hyundai rolls out a new name: this month is the Santa Fe. Next month its the three-row Santa Fe XL. The fuel-cell Nexo’s next. Then a big Palisade later. There’ll be more, too.

But the most recognizable name in Hyundai’s stable is now planted firmly on the most agreeable: the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is a spacious crossover SUV for five people, with plenty of room for gear. Its price is comparably low, and its value is high.

MUST READ: Read our 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe full review

First Drive 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe #1

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Hyundai could have called it the “2019 Ointment” and it’d still have mass appeal. (Slap on a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty and I’d even take “2019 Hyundai Moist” for a name.)

Like others in its class that start for less than $30,000, the Hyundai Santa Fe isn’t overwhelming in many respects. Powered by a base 2.4-liter inline-4 with 185 horsepower or optionally a 235-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4, the Santa Fe turns toward efficiency with a new 8-speed automatic and a host of light-weighting measures to strip it down to its skivvies. It’s not particularly fast behind the wheel—even with the turbocharged engine—nor is it as nimble as others such as the Mazda CX-5. The eager 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is tempered by an efficiency-minded 8-speed automatic, and the base 2.4-liter inline-4 is even more relaxed. The Santa Fe calms to a low boil at highway speeds, ready to eat miles and deliver us to grandma’s house before dinner, on time.

The new Santa Fe is composed of more high-strength steel that makes it not only lighter, but also stronger in a crash. Active safety features such as automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors are standard on all trims too. Crash-test data isn’t yet in, but Hyundai’s record of multiple Top Safety Pick+ award winners should be an indication of things to come.

But the Santa Fe now goes further, figuratively and literally, with people and gear. It boasts a spacious interior for five that features more than 40 inches of rear seat leg room and more than 30 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats in place.

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Offered in SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, and Ultimate trim levels, the Santa Fe lives its best life in the top two trims, which feature leather upholstery, a 7.0- or 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility, panoramic sunroof, and even available all-wheel drive. The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited starts at $33,580 with front-wheel drive and a 2.4-liter engine, all-wheel drive and a turbo-4 add $1,700 and $1,600, respectively.