2019 Hyundai Santa Fe: Come for the Headlights, Stay for the Brawn

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
2019 hyundai santa fe come for the headlights stay for the brawn

Hyundai’s Santa Fe has been a reliable performer for the automaker, topping up the company’s coffers over three generations and helping turn the crossover segment into the unstoppable juggernaut it is today.

The current generation, dating to 2013, is sufficiently long in the tooth to call for a top-down revamp, the results of which we can see in these official renderings. For 2019, Hyundai’s biggest grows bigger and bolder, but a few mysteries still remain.

As the images show, the new Santa Fe adopts a corporate grille seen everywhere from the subcompact Accent to the Elantra GT, Sonata, and new-for-2018 Kona. Illumination points now cover more real estate as the Santa Fe goes the split-headlamp Kona route: thin daytime running lights up top, main lamps below.

Overall, the crossover loses its prior shapeless form, gaining a high, distinct character line that blends into the rear taillights and adds a bit of upscale panache. Hyundai claims the new design highlights the model’s “robust, stylish and voluminous composition” — a description sure to inspire unwholesome thoughts in some readers. Given that it’s a sketch, we can forgive the exaggerated angles and oversized wheels. Last week, Hyundai teased us with a profile shot of the model that puts these sketches into perspective.

Chrome trim along the lower body and surrounding the rear reflectors signals that this model has no superior in the brand’s lineup.

Would-be buyers won’t have to wait long before the real thing appears. The next-generation Santa Fe debuts at the Geneva Motor Show in March, at which time we’ll learn many unknowns. For example: what powertrains can we expect? Surely, an obligatory 2.0-liter turbo four serves as an entry engine, with Hyundai’s 3.3-liter V6 a likely upgrade. Also, exactly how much larger this new model really is remains to be seen.

We know much less about the Santa Fe’s little brother, the Santa Fe Sport. During the early days of the brand’s crossover shakeup plan, Hyundai suggested the smaller, two-row model might forge its own identity going forward. A more rugged design and a new name (anyone want to make bets on the Southwestern locale?) would place distance between it and the Santa Fe, helping avoid confusion.

Hyundai’s U.S. sales saw a sharp downturn in 2017, even as its crossover sales reached a new high. Given that the automaker touted only the Santa Fe Sport’s volume in its 2017 sales report (up 12 percent), we’re led to believe sales of the larger Santa Fe, which Hyundai groups together with the smaller model, actually fell last year. As the priciest model in the lineup, a new Santa Fe can’t come soon enough.

[Images: Hyundai]

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  • Iamwho2k Iamwho2k on Jan 30, 2018

    They went Hawaiian for the Kona. So... Hyundai Maui! (No, sounds like a dealership.)

  • Firestorm 500 Firestorm 500 on Jan 30, 2018

    A lot of people made fun of the Jeep Cherokee front end treatment when it came out in 2014. Apparently, the Koreans loved it. This one has a more exaggerated treatment of it. Makes the 14-18 Cherokee look downright conservative.

    • See 2 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Feb 01, 2018

      @bd2 Very little different from the Cherokee, outside of an additional pair of bulbs and a wide-open mouth.

  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.
  • ToolGuy You make them sound like criminals.
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