Spied: The Biggest Hyundai Yet

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

There was a moment last week when a few TTAC minds nearly cracked while nailing down the changes coming to Hyundai’s lineup for the 2019 model year. The momentary confusion centered around the bold new Santa Fe, which replaces the Santa Fe Sport (but not the old Santa Fe, which becomes the Santa Fe XL, except in Canada, where it’s already called the Santa Fe XL).

It was touch and go there for a moment. With a wholly new two- and three-row crossover replacing the Santa Fe Sport for 2019, the existing three-row-always Santa Fe (soon to be Santa Fe XL) soldiers on unchanged, though not for long. The full-size crossover seen in these spy shots is nearly ready to step in and give Americans the really big Korean vehicle they’ve always wanted.

Now, who wants to place bets on the inevitable Southwestern name?

While the smaller 2019 Santa Fe offers five- or seven-passenger seating (always seven, if it’s a diesel), the unnamed long-wheelbase model has eight seats ready to go. This should give shoppers something to consider that isn’t a Ford Expedition or Chevrolet Suburban, though the model’s front-drive-biased layout and unibody construction makes the Chevy Traverse a more likely rival.

The largest of the Hyundais, which I’ve taken to calling the Albuquerque, is expected to gain a corporate sibling in the form of the Kia Telluride — a full-size model that exists in concept form but hasn’t yet received the official green light.

As we can see here, styling cues carry over from the Santa Fe. While a broad corporate grille follows in the footsteps of all new Hyundai models, the company’s utility line calls for over/under running lights and driving lamps. These peepers are plain to see.

We know what powerplants the smaller Santa Fe stands to gain in 2019, but guessing the Albuquerque’s under-hood trappings is a little trickier. The current 3.3-liter V6 likely has a home in the new model, but today’s regulatory environment calls for a thriftier option. It’s possible the plug-in hybrid V6 powertrain from the Telluride concept will take on production form here.

A fuel-sipping eight-seater would be food for thought for those considering an American BOF SUV for their family hauler. Whatever name Hyundai bestows upon its largest child, an official debut likely won’t occur until 2019.

[Images: Brian Williams/Spiedbilde]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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