By on December 15, 2018

Image: Hyundai

If you’re enamored by the thought of a high-torque, compression ignition Hyundai crossover, dream on. After promising a diesel version of its new-for-2019 Santa Fe, which began arriving at dealers this past summer, Hyundai has announced a diesel is off the table.

The automaker admitted as much to Green Car Reports following a plant tour in Seoul. Apparently, Hyundai feels Americans just aren’t interested. With the diesel’s stillbirth comes another change for the revamped crossover: the removal of its third-row option.

Hyundai spokesman Brandon Ramirez claims the decision to scrap the 2.2-liter turbodiesel came after studies showed North American buyers held little interest in an oil-burning option. That mill was said to make 190 horsepower and 322 lb-ft of torque — more pulling power than either the Santa Fe’s base, carryover 2.4-liter inline-four (185 hp, 178 lb-ft) or turbocharged 2.0-liter four (235 hp, 260 lb-ft).


Upon its debut, Hyundai said the 2019 Santa Fe’s third row would be a diesel-only option, meaning the model, like its Santa Fe Sport predecessor, will remain a two-row-only vehicle. Buyers looking for extra seating had best wait for the larger Palisade arriving next year.

As Green Car Reports notes, other promised diesel crossovers — namely, the Mazda CX-5 — have yet to materialize. It’s likely buyers would prefer a fuel-sipping hybrid Santa Fe option over a diesel. Hyundai showed a pair of electrified models (hybrid and plug-in hybrid) in Geneva last March, and it seems the possibility of one or more of those variants arriving here isn’t off the table.

[Images: Hyundai]

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37 Comments on “Waiting for That Diesel Santa Fe? Hyundai Says Forget About It...”

  • avatar

    I wish GM and Ford could make vehicles as good as Hyundai. The US auto industry today is about as much fun as a cancer ward.

  • avatar

    That’s too bad. The new Sante Fe is a really good looking and thought out vehicle, IMO. The pictures are decent, but it looks great in person. Starting to see them on the roads. I have a lease up in August 2019 and this is on the list of replacement vehicles Though I’m hesitant about its first-gen status (kinks, if any, not worked out) and I’ve read the base engine is underwhelming. Regardless, I’ll at least give it a test drive next year.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve had two first-gen H/K cars – a 15 Sonata I got new and now a 15 Genesis 3.8 AWD. The Genesis has had a couple of fit issues at 34k (wind whistle on driver door, creaky pano roof, passenger seat heater) but the Sonata was basically perfect over 60k.

      • 0 avatar

        Nice to know. I have never owned a Hyunduai. Nevertheless, for some reason I’m a big fan. I’ve had plenty of rentals and I’ve always liked them. This next vehicle could be the big shift to Hyundai, but there’s a LOT of options since I could get either a mid-size sedan (Camry, Mazda 6, Sonata, Accord) or a small or mid CUV/SUV – Rav4, Passport, Tuscon, Sante Fe, CX-5, Forrester, Highlander, Escape.

        • 0 avatar

          A Camry LE 4-cyl can be had routinely in my area outright (no trade) for ~$20K plus tt&l. And it’s got everything including Cruise Control, AC, PW, etc. And nothing you don’t need.

          Toyota must be selling this for break-even or very little profit because even a Sonata will sell for ~$24K with that magnificent warranty.

          Our experience with the 2011 Elantra we bought new for our grand daughter has been all good.

          • 0 avatar

            I actually currently have a 2017 Camry SE. That’s what I leased. I had a 2003 Honda Accord with 193k miles that was unexpectedly totaled in an accident. I would have kept if for probably two more years. Anyway, I leased a 2017 Camry because I got a good deal, I was under time pressure, and I didn’t want to commit to anything. Perfectly acceptable car, but for some reason I don’t want to buy it out after the lease. Plus, the residual is high. Though, I leased it for 15k miles per year (45k overall) and I’m 4k behind mileage in terms of getting to 45k.

          • 0 avatar

            You’re doing the right thing by “playing the market” before your lease ends.

            In my area where there are a large number of retirees, I have noticed that more of them are choosing to lease (on a continuous basis} their long-distance traveler while keeping at least one more car around that they own for a grocery-getter.

            There are benefits to leasing in that you drive something brand-new every 3 years, or so, with the only downside being that you have nothing to show for all the money you paid out after the lease end.

            But when it comes to buying out a car after the lease ends, I would get something that I really, really wanted to keep for a very long time.

            Toyota makes Camry for the masses. In essence they have become “disposable”, not exotic or especially noteworthy.

            But as a conveyance, midsize sedans function extremely well for many people.

            And with the trend toward SUVs, you may be able to pick up whichever vehicle that you want to keep for a long, long time, at a very attractive price.

            It’s been said that all vehicles are great, until they need repairs. Choose wisely.

    • 0 avatar

      I know I sound crazy, but Hyundai is one of the best cars I ever owned. The only car that seemed equally as reliable and well built was my Porsche.

      My cadillacs, Fords, Chevys, and BMWs were three steps behind.

      I know thats an awful sample of “1”, but I could buy ANY car out there and I choose a hyundai… and I love it. I’ve never even kept a car as long as I’ve kept my Sonata.

      I don’t understand the “hesitant about the first-gen status”. It uses the same engines and trans that are in their other cars (not new), 99% of the tech is used in other cars already, so your really just talking about fit, finish, the body, and BCM related components?

      I bought a “first gen” hyundai Sonata and it was trouble free (2015)

    • 0 avatar

      It depends on what you mean by underwhelming. I have a 2015 Santa Fe Sport with the 2.4 189 HP naturally aspirated engine, and for what I need it works out quite well. No, it does not have neck snapping performance from a stop… but it by no means struggles with daily traffic. If you plan to tow with this vehicle though, the tow limit is LOWER on the 2.4 than the turbo….so that is something worth considering.

  • avatar

    Normally, diesel option adds $3-4500 to the MSRP of a vehicle. It would have made it a very expensive vehicle and at that point, it would have languished on dealer lots. Too bad, Hyundai makes great diesel vehicles but the SCR systems add thousands.

  • avatar

    seems weird that they would offer a 3rd row option in the first place since the kia sorento forces you have a 3rd anyways and is only a 1-2inches bigger than this new model

    • 0 avatar

      They no doubt offered a 3rd row option so they would have something with 3 rows and a diesel for anyone looking. Looks like not enough people cared about that diesel part though.

  • avatar

    Too bad since neither gas engine in the Santa Fe has received glowing media reviews.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Good moves, both. Diesel is dying and a 3rd row in that vehicle would be a joke.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    A hybrid would make far more sense, and I wonder what Hyundai was thinking even trying to sell a diesel.

    Of course, the Santa Fe is a size larger than the CX-5, but, yes, the lack of a diesel on the latter is damning. Especially since their diesel hardly gets better fuel economy than the gasoline engine. I wonder how the Equinox and Terrain diesels are doing. I actually saw an Equinox diesel, a loaded-up Premier with what looked like every option ticked, and was surprised.

    • 0 avatar

      I came in to say this. Hybridization gets the same benefits at about the same cost with nowhere near the hassle. With H/K seeming to take the lead in the mainstream EV space it would make sense to leverage that across their lineups.

      These systems need ample power though. Optima Hybrid sucks, but I’d love a hybrid system tacked onto the 2.0T in mine to help with the dismal gas mileage around town.

  • avatar

    Maybe Hyundai got sued by BNSF for copyright infringement. That’s the first thing I thought when I saw “Santa Fe diesel”.

  • avatar

    Dammit. My wife’s Escape will be due for a replacement in a year and the Kia version of this, the Sorrento, was #1 on the shopping list specifically because of the prospect of a diesel engine. I wanted to consider it because it would likely get better fuel burn than the smaller Escape but the biggest reason is that the Escape has a 3500lb towing capacity and we pull a single-axle travel trailer with it that has a dry weight of 2900lbs. Once we load up essentials like bacon and wine we’re almost certainly over capacity. My thought was the the diesel Kia (which would likely have had a 5000lb towing capacity) would probably get far better mileage with the trailer attached than we get with the overburdened Escape.

    Oh well… back to considering what’s available out there.

  • avatar

    I’m sure that the Santa Fe diesel already exists… for Europe.

  • avatar

    Good looking rig in the flesh. Too bad for Hyundai the new RAV4 looks as good or better.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m in the market for both of them when my Camry lease is up in August 2019. I’ve now seen both the 2019 Rav4 and 2019 Santa Fe in person and they’re both great IMO – much better than in press photos – especially the Rav4. I also like the 2018 Tuscon which is on it’s way out (and should be on clearance when I’m getting a new vehicle) and am not thrilled about the styling changes on the 2019 Tuscon. I really like Tuscon and Santa Fe, but I know Toyota will make it extra easy for me to transition to a Rav4 if I want to. Nice thing with a lease is that I can go test drive all sorts of vehicles in March, April, June and have a iron clad reason not to commit to anything the day I’m on the lot test driving – my lease isn’t up until August.

    • 0 avatar

      The RAV-4 is half a size segment smaller and the interior in the new RAV-4 is really chinzy.

  • avatar

    Aren’t we still waiting for the CX5 diesel we were promised like summer 2017?

  • avatar

    Building Diesel passenger vehicles is a great way for a car company to lose money.

  • avatar

    And…Why would anyone risk being terrorized by political psychopaths like VW was?

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I believe Hyundai is correct to nix the diesel. Diesel is dead…with the exception of full size pickup applications.

  • avatar

    The diesel version’s already on sale in Germany:

  • avatar

    A diesel variant never really made any sense (based on diesel sales here).

    Now, Hyundai better get a move on the 48V mild hybrid (likely will be paired with the new Theta III 2.5L).

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