Diesel Move Is Big Surprise

Hyundai pulled the covers off the all-new fourth generation 2019 Santa Fe SUV this week in South Korea. Heavy with car models and light on crossover SUVs, the new Santa Fe is a big deal for the automaker; it’s the company’s second best-selling model with more than 133,000 sold in the U.S. last year.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

For 2019, Hyundai moves the Santa Fe down a new path

The midsize crossover will offer the usual naturally aspirated and turbocharged four-cylinder gas engines, but the biggest news is that the U.S. will be getting a diesel option. But before getting into specifics about what is known about the drivetrains and other details, there are changes for model identification.

The outgoing generation lineup had two distinct models: the two-row Santa Fe Sport and the Santa Fe, a longer-wheelbase three-row model. The new 2019 short-wheelbase, five-seat vehicle will be called simply Santa Fe, with the longer-wheelbase version called Santa Fe XL for now. The company also confirmed that an even bigger eight-seat crossover was on the way with an all-new name.

Drivetrains

For those who want torque and the best fuel economy, there’s an optional 2.2-liter CRDi turbodiesel, which arrives in early 2019. Hyundai says the diesel will crank out “around 200 horsepower at 3,000 rpm and an estimated 320 pounds-feet of torque at 1,750 rpm.” Fuel economy numbers weren’t released, but expect the highway number to be in the 30s. Strangely, the diesel version of the Santa Fe is the only model that has what is described as an “occasional use” third-row seat.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

The diesel and AWD logoa

Most buyers will likely opt for one of the gasoline engines. The base Santa Fe will offer a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making an estimated 185 horsepower. The upgrade engine will be a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making an estimated 232 horsepower. All engines come mated to a new in-house-designed eight-speed automatic transmission and will have the option of Hyundai’s Htrac all-wheel drive.

Other changes beneath the sheetmetal are a revised suspension, particularly in the rear, to provide a smoother and more comfortable ride. Hyundai will also offer an optional load-leveling suspension to maintain a consistent ride height, even when loaded with cargo or towing.

New From the Ground Up

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe has a new look that is less crossover and more SUV than before. The styling is revolutionary next to today’s comparatively staid version. The new model incorporates the automaker’s latest design cues, including a new take on the company’s “Cascading” grille, along with LED daytime running lights at the top corners of the front end with LED headlights that are clustered below that. With more upright body panels, larger rear quarter glass, and a 2.8-inch growth spurt in overall length, the Santa Fe stands out next to more conservatively styled competitors.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

The Santa Fe interior gets an upgrade, too

Along with additional interior space, there’s an all-new dashboard design that incorporates a 7.0-inch tablet-style infotainment system and an available digital gauge cluster. All trim levels receive Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, while a navigation system and a head-up display that projects an 8.5-inch image on the windshield giving driving and navigation information is optional. Upper trim levels include a larger eight-inch screen with Hyundai’s latest AVN 5.0 navigation system and a 630-watt, 12-speaker surround-sound Infinity audio system. Thankfully, there are knobs and buttons to control climate and audio controls.

Fittingly for a family vehicle, the 2019 Santa Fe incorporates some interesting safety features. Smart Sense, which will be standard on trim levels SE and higher, will come with forward collision warning and avoidance, blind-spot warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, a 360-degree camera system, rear cross-traffic warning and collision avoidance, and automatic high beams.

Safe Exit Assist, a system that monitors vehicles approaching from the rear and prevents passengers from throwing open the doors and potentially stepping in front of a passing car, motor cycle or bicycle is folded into Smart Sense. So too is rear seat occupant alert. It uses ultrasonic sensors to detect motion of kids or pets in the back so they are not locked inside the vehicle.

On sale this (2018) summer, the 2019 Santa Fe will be joined by at least two other new Hyundai SUV models this year, including the entry-level Kona subcompact and the Nexo fuel cell. Pricing for the new Santa Fe will be available closer to the release date.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy: Midsize SUV Competion

Road Test: 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Flash Drive: 2019 Infiniti QX50

Road Test: 2017 Nissan Pathfinder

News: 2018 Lexua RX 450hL Hybrid

Road Test: 2017 Acura MDX Hybrid