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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