Santa Fe on Its Way: Hyundai's Largest Crossover Dons New Clothes

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
santa fe on its way hyundai s largest crossover dons new clothes

Hyundai has dropped a few details about its next Santa Fe, including a dimly lit teaser photo. In a confusing bit of theatre, the company says the trucklet will make a world premiere at an unnamed location next month before debuting at the Geneva Motor Show in early March.

Hyundai refreshed its two largest crossovers just two model years ago. With consumer tastes running hot in that segment, the Korean automaker knows it needs to keep up with the Joneses (and the Toyotas and Nissans).

The teaser photo, as they often do, tells us little beyond giving a vague idea of the vehicle’s overall silhouette. Examining its proportions, this author guesses we are looking at the seven-passenger Santa Fe, which stickers starting at just under $31,000. The taillight assembly extends a bit further into the rear quarter panel, with an oddly sharp angle halfway up the lens.

Up front, its headlamps are a heckuva lot narrower than the current units, which employ a version of Hyundai’s “Fluidic Sculpture” styling language. These peepers seem to be very slim, barely dipping below the top of the vehicle’s grille. It’s tough to tell if there are any ancillary lights below. It’s unlikely that the Santa Fe will ape the old Cherokee’s alarming mug, for example, but the photo does suggest a bit of change in styling direction for the Korean automaker.

The new-generation Santa Fe will offer a package of Hyundai’s latest active safety features under the Smart Sense technology umbrella. Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning is now paired with an automated braking function designed to toss out an anchor if Junior runs across the driveway while you’re backing out of the garage.

For calendar year 2017, Hyundai and Genesis-branded vehicles sold a total of 685,555 units, a 12 percent decline from the all-time yearly sales record established in 2016. Annual sales were lower due in part to a concerted effort of vanquishing fleet sales, which were down 31 percent. Retail sales were down about 5 percent, despite a car-to-SUV mix inverse to the industry.

That mix is increasing, as Hyundai light truck sales set an all-time annual record with nearly a quarter-million sold, representing a 12 percent increase over 2016. SUV sales represented well over 30 percent of total sales, the highest SUV mix in Hyundai history.

The Santa Fe line is currently cleaved in half, with the five-passenger Santa Fe Sport making a value play with its $25,000 opening bid while the seven-passenger Santa Fe takes care of those with larger families or more stuff.

Hyundai’s large crossover naming scheme vexes your humble author, as it allows for a grouping of sales numbers. When the automaker had three distinct nameplates (Tucson, Santa Fe, and Veracruz) it was much easier to determine how each model performed in its respective category. I deplore intentional obfuscation.

Whatever its title, the fourth-gen Santa Fe will bow at the Geneva Motor Show in early March.

[Image: Hyundai Motor America]

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  • Kyree Kyree on Jan 25, 2018

    It's clear Hyundai is committed to the front fascia design language seen on the Kona, with small headlamps assemblies up top and larger, functional ones in the bumper...which is unfortunate. So, yeah, I'm thinking 2014-2017 Cherokee, definitely.

    • Bd2 Bd2 on Jan 26, 2018

      Hyundai's take on the split headlights is different from what was on the Cherokee (or for that matter, Citroen's) - the DRLs actually look like (aggressive) headlights. Unlike on the Cherokee, don't mind it at all.

  • ShoogyBee ShoogyBee on Jan 25, 2018

    "In a confusing bit of theatre, the company says the trucklet will make a world premiere at an unnamed location next month before debuting at the Geneva Motor Show in early March." It would be cool if they unveiled the new Santa Fe in... Santa Fe, NM.

  • Analoggrotto By the time any of Hyundai's Japanese competitors were this size and age, they produced iconic vehicles which are now highly desirable and going for good money used. But Hyundai/Kia have nothing to this point that anyone will care about in the future. Those 20k over MSRP Tellurides? Worn out junk sitting at the used car lot, worn beyond their actual age. Hyundai/Kia has not had anything comparable to the significance of CVCC, 240Z, Supra, Celica, AE86, RX-(7), 2000GT, Skyline, GT-R, WRX, Evo, Preludio, CRX, Si, Land Cruiser, NSX etc. All of this in those years where Detroiters and Teutonic prejudiced elitists were openly bashing the Japanese with racist derogatory language. Tiger Woods running off the road in a Genesis didn't open up a moment, and the Genesis Sedan featuring in Inception didn't matter any more than the Lincoln MKS showing up for a moment in Dark Knight. Hyundai/Kia are too busy attempting to re-invent others' history for themselves. But hey, they have to start somewhere and the N74 is very cool looking. Hyundai/Kia's biggest fans are auto Journalists who for almost 2 decades have been hyping them up to deafening volumes contributing further distrust in any media.
  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)