By on February 6, 2018

Image: Hyundai

As part of its sales-stimulating crossover offensive, Hyundai’s upcoming Santa Fe will drop the safe styling act that’s carried the model since its inception. The first official images of the 2019 model are out, revealing a three-row vehicle that mimics Hyundai’s smallest crossover, the Kona.

Like that bottom-rung sibling, the 2019 Santa Fe, due for a full reveal ahead of March’s Geneva Motor Show, adopts the brand’s now signature “cascading grille” and a quartet of headlamps — narrow running lights above, driving lights below. Get used to the new face, as you’ll be seeing it on plenty of Hyundai rigs in the coming years.

While we don’t have a full range of specs, we can tell you the next Santa Fe shrinks in overall length (down from 193.1 inches to 187.8 inches), while growing two-tenths of an inch in width. Hyundai promises a wheelbase stretch, which should make for easier loading of rear-seat passengers.

Overall, the new design is miles removed from the current generation. Bland flanks are out, “bold” and “aggressive” is in. In addition to a strong character line bridging the headlights and taillights, the Santa Fe’s flanks see a pronounced lower body ridge, generously swathed in chrome (which never stops screaming “luxury!”) Interesting scalloped arches enliven the boring space around each wheel.

Out back, mystery reigns. That’s because Hyundai’s keeping the Santa Fe’s tail a secret for now, though recent renderings give us a good idea of what to expect.

The most notable change in the vehicle’s cabin is the stand-up multimedia touchscreen, no longer buried in the center stack. We’ve seen this feature crop up on recent Hyundai passenger cars.

Overseas, power comes by way of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (plus a four-banger diesel) in Hyundai’s home country, but U.S. details aren’t forthcoming just yet. Expect the 3.3-liter V6 to make an appearance on uplevel trims, at the very least. In keeping with the times (and its competition), the Santa Fe will need to pay more attention to fuel economy; this could show itself in the form of a smaller base engine or a transmission with more than six cogs.

While styling can carry the day in many segments, Hyundai knows the typical Santa Fe buyer is not a gregarious fratboy in his early 20s. Hence the added safety features. For 2019, Hyundai adds Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist and Safety Exit Assist to its SmartSence suite of driver’s aids.

The first feature automatically stops the vehicle if it detects an obstruction while backing up; the latter locks the vehicle’s doors when it senses another vehicle approaching from the rear.

A full list of features and specifications should drop later this month.

[Images: Hyundai]

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18 Comments on “2019 Hyundai Santa Fe: Revamped Range-topper Slinks Into Reality...”


  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    How can the optics of those narrow slits called headlights even work?

    • 0 avatar
      tsoden

      The slits are running lights. The headlights are in the area where typically fog lights would reside. In fact that is most likely why there are two sets of projector lenses in the fog light module. one for Headlamps and one for fog lamps.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Good point Tsoden. The old headlight/foglight switcharoo. Could be that the two lights below are separate high and low beam projectors, and no foglights. I agree that the front clip of this CUV is far better looking than the front end of the Lexus line.

  • avatar
    tsoden

    An interesting style trend that looks to have been started by Nissan (Juke) and then the Jeep Cherokee (Until the 2018 redesign that is). I like it. I think it actually works. Sure its more daring than before… but its not hideous (I’m looking at you Lexus)

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      I’m pretty sure Citroën started this trend, but even they are unlikely the first.

      • 0 avatar
        tsoden

        you are probably correct… but in North America, I think it was Nissan that started it. but yes… I see the Citroen C4 Cactus and it too has a similar headlight / running light setup.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I always liked the Juke (in Nismo style). And this, and Kona are just better implementations of the style.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      There were split headlights before the Juke and the Juke’s really weren’t in this style.

      Citroen was the first to bring this style to the mainstream, albeit Hyundai’s rendition makes the DRLs look like they’re the headlights.

      Something that the Skoda Vision X CUV concept also does.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I can’t believe that they actually cut close to 6″ off the total length. Amazing!

    Looks like a large Kona, so I guess that’s Hyundai’s new design going forward.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I like it. I think the front fascia really works. I especially like the windowettes on the front doors, which look classy (and have also been employed by Lexus, the entirety of Volkswagen Group, Lincoln, Cadillac and and Aston Martin, among others). Ditto for the particular style of character line running across the sides.

    As for the overall length, though…are we sure this isn’t the replacement for the Santa Fe Sport? It’s very possible that Hyundai has decided to return the Santa Fe name to the five-passenger midsize crossover and call the seven passenger one something else (like Veracruz). The reason I ask is because the outgoing Santa Fe Sport has an overall length of 185” even, and this is more in line with that. I can’t see them making any decent three-row crossover at under 190 inches and having that be their largest one. Mind you, the 187.8” length of the 2019 is almost exactly that of the related Kia Sorento, but the Sorento is a 5+2 tweener, and definitely not much of an entrant in the mainstream three-row segment.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Good observation on the length. I need to see the innards and outer bits in non brownish hues to make a final assessment. Hopefully they do a bigger V6 + 8+ AT as an option.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      I agree Kyree. The overall length threw me off. Hell I was upset that Mazda shrank the CX9 instead of making it about 6 inches bigger like they should have. In my mind there is a place for vehicles like the Sorento that are basically a 5 seat with two each “in a pinch” however this should not be your LARGE family hauler. Even though the CX9 is larger that the Sorento its not that much more practical. I had hopes of the cabin growing to Traverse size so that I wouldn’t have to switch up brands. However due to the addition of my niece and nephew coming to live with me and my family of 4 last year (both teens and ones very tall) my CX9 isn’t working for me.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Not really “smaller” as this is the replacement for the Santa Fe Sport.

      The replacement for the 3-row Santa Fe is huge and similar in size to the Kia Telluride.

      In all likelihood, will be a hybrid (or PHEV) variant and maybe even a diesel option (the Sorento is getting a diesel powerplant).

      While I like the new sheetmetal (the current design is showing its age), the interior improvements are more noteworthy.

      The Sorento has had the upper hand on the SFS, but this looks to flip the switch.

  • avatar
    lot9

    As a Santa Fe owner, This is not one that I would buy….

    I think the Korean make a nice vehicle, otherwise.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Not bad. I think all previous Santa Fe styling is better described as “fugly” than “safe” though. Especially the first one.

  • avatar
    jkk6

    Is the Safety Exit Assist a different approach of when to trigger auto lock on a vehicle? Or is it intended to deter beggers and stick up boys in the hood?


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