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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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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?

  • 285exp I have been assured that EVs don’t require maintenance, so this seems pointless.
  • Slavuta "The fuel-economy numbers are solid, especially the 32 mpg on the highway"My v6 Highlander did 31 over 10 hour highway trip
  • Aja8888 As I type this, my 4 months old Equinox's Onstar module that controls the phone is broken. Yep, 4 months (never worked right from day one). Replacement will be a REFURBISHED unit since no new ones can be obtained (from China?). I really don't miss the phone via Bluetooth. And I have a great Garmin that I have used for years for trips which has free lifetime maps and traffic.
  • Bd2 There's a reason why talented American execs have been leaving Stellantis in droves.Tavares seems intent in following "Le Cost Cutter" Ghosn into driving his company into the dirt, whilst "justifying" his ever expanding compensation.
  • Bd2 Too bad gm didn't make the C8 better looking to begin with...