By on January 25, 2018

New Hyundai Santa Fe

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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15 Comments on “Santa Fe on Its Way: Hyundai’s Largest Crossover Dons New Clothes...”

  • avatar

    I’ve been eagerly awaiting this cars release!

    We want an old sante fe, and while Hyundais depreciation curve is rough, this will help depreciate the old sante fe even more so we can buy a nice hyundai CPO’s old version sante fe for peanuts.

  • avatar

    It is an odd naming scheme. You’ve got the Santa Fe Sport which is kind of in the same class as the Ford Edge and then you’ve got the Santa Fe which competes with the Highlander/Explorer/et. al.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe Hyundai thought the Santa Fe name had more value and recognition than Veracruz.

      With the amount of components shared between the Sport and 3-row version, it is probably much more economical to manufacture. Just like Cadillac did (does?) with the Escalade ESV and BMW does with the 7xx Li.

      I wonder if Hyundai is using some form of modular chassis strategy like VW does.

      • 0 avatar

        Toyota is doing the same with the 3-row RX (RX 350L).

        The Santa Fe competes more with the Highlander than the larger 3-rows like the Explorer, Pilot and Pathfinder – which is why the Santa Fe 3-row replacement is getting a good bit larger.

        This rendering is for the Santa Fe Sport replacement.

        As for the 3-row replacement, it was rumored that Hyundai was going to differentiate it from its smaller sibling by renaming it (bringing back the Veracruz name, going with the Maxcruz nameplate which is used in other markets, or maybe something entirely new?).

        The larger 3-row in all likelihood shares its underpinnings with the production version of the Kia Telluride.

        Based on the renderings for the Santa Fe Sport replacement, it’s a handsome crossover (also looks to have grown to Sorento-size).

        Just hope that Hyundai paid as much attention to the design (and materials) of the interior (which is the where the current SFS is showing its age).

    • 0 avatar

      Reminiscent of the Mitsubishi playbook. See: Montero/Montero Sport and Outlander/Outlander Sport. And new parent Nissan recently adopted same trick with Rogue and Rogue Sport.

  • avatar

    My ’10 Santa Fe has somehow been the absolute best car I’ve ever owned while simultaneously being the worst car I’ve ever owned. I swear they built this thing out of glass. I’ve replaced the transmission, struts (twice), driveshaft, intake manifold, and countless other smaller bits (door handle, dome light, etc) in only 75,000 miles. HOWEVER! Damn I love the size, the power, the fuel economy, the utility, the handling in snow and ice. I would keep this thing forever if it wasn’t literally falling apart at the seams. We test drove the current gen Santa Fe a few years back and just didn’t like it. They changed too much; it was too, I dunno, futuristic or something. It was also smaller and more car-like. I hope they take this next gen and make it more like my ’10, except they figure out how to keep it all glued together.

    • 0 avatar

      I have similar feelings about our 2011 V6 FWD. It is easily the least refined vehicle either of us have ever owned, yet it has been very solid for 120k.

      We haven’t had any of the major issues you’ve had (knock on wood), but there are plenty of annoyances: flaky bluetooth and USB/AUX connections, a background “hissing” noise in the stereo, creaky springs in the seat back, an occasional hard 1-2 shift, massive torque steer under WOT, vibration on the highway that has persevered through several diagnostic attempts. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few smaller things. Not to mention unimpressive dealership service experiences at two different local dealers.

      When the time comes to replace it, I will heavily consider other brands.

      • 0 avatar

        Interesting. I have a 2015 and its built better, and more reliable, with less issues than our Porsche, BMW, cadillac, Chevrolet, or Ford.

        we’ve been so impressed by how well built and designed it is that we tell everyone that in our opinions, Hyundai is the best built cars on the road.

        What a difference a couple of years make!

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve heard nothing but good things, reliability-wise, about the 2011-2018 Santa Fe’s. 2010 was the first year of a major facelift, including all new engine and transmission, plus other supporting bits. According to two Hyundai dealers I’ve had service my ’10, they both say it’s a massive anomaly amongst all the model years.

          • 0 avatar

            Upthewazzu, 2010 was the first year of the mid-cycle refresh for the CM platform. There were a lot of changes but perhaps most significant was the replacement of the 2.7L V6 with a 2.4L I4 and the replacement of the 3.3L V6 with a re-designed 3.5L V6 with a 6-speed automatic. The last year of the CM was 2012.

            2013 was the first year of the DM platform, which is currently on sale. Completely different design from the CM. The 2.4L engine remains but a 2.0T I4 replaces the V6.

  • avatar

    I wonder if they sell many in Santa Fe? Seems like more of a T or C, Albuquerque, or Roswell type of car.

  • avatar

    “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.”

    I’m curious to know just what parameters will be in place for this feature. The warning alerts when backing up the wife’s Forester trigger very easily. It would be seriously annoying if the car decided on it’s own that the passing train in the commuter parking lot (something that has triggered the back up warning) required putting on the brakes.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar

    “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.

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