2019 Hyundai Santa Fe: Revamped Range-topper Slinks Into Reality

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
2019 hyundai santa fe revamped range topper slinks into reality

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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2 of 18 comments
  • Car Ramrod Car Ramrod on Feb 06, 2018

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

  • Jkk6 Jkk6 on Feb 06, 2018

    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?

  • Cprescott The pandemic changed the sales game. No longer do dealerships need inventory. After two years people are accustomed to having to order what they want and then extorted on the price by the dealer for that privilege. Now used cars with 75k are selling for $5k more than I paid for my 21k, 2016 model back in January 2019. I pray my car won't get totaled and I have but 13 payments left to make on it. I may never buy another car again.
  • Grein002 I hope you meant "take the Ranger out behind the *barn*" rather than "bar". I think something completely different happens "behind the bar".
  • Cprescott Suddenly there is no reason to buy ugly anymore. The Silverdodo is dead. Long live the less hideous Colorado.
  • Cprescott Portable BBQ's for everyone!
  • Lou_BC The 2023 ZR2 is burdened with GM's 8 speed. It's been allegedly "fixed" so it doesn't gear hunt and shudder. I still won't trust it. The turbo 4 cylinder should address the lack of torque found in the V6. I test drove a full-sized Trail Boss. I could make it gear hunt. The turbo 4 didn't seem to be lacking in power, at least for an empty crewcab with a 6.5 box. It lacked anything resembling character. It had next to zero compression braking even with tow/haul engaged. Chevy should have continued offering the VM Motori based inline 4 diesel that's in the older Colorado trucks. I do like the fact that the 2023 comes with 33's standard and IIRC the wheel hubs/axles etc. have been beefed up to handle the larger rubber. The bolt pattern (IIRC) is shared with fullsized 1/2 tons opening up one's choice for aftermarket wheels.