• 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

Road Test: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T AWD

All-New For 2019 & Beyond

For Hyundai, redesigning one of its best-selling models was a tricky situation. With 1.6 million Santa Fe SUVs having been sold in its previous three generations, getting the all-new 2019 Santa Fe right was critical. What they came up with is a bolder design with larger interior space and new safety technologies. With an eye towards families, the 2019 Santa Fe will continue to be a popular midsize SUV.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD
Hyundai’s reborn Santa Fe is now part of a family of SUVs

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is sized-right for parking, has a ride that is quiet and calming and respectable handling. The Santa Fe’s high safety rating is also a plus when driving any tall vehicle. Clean Fleet Report would like to see higher fuel economy numbers, though.


Clean Fleet Report drove the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate AWD with the turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that, running on unleaded regular, put-out 235 horsepower and 260 pounds-feet of torque. The EPA rated the fuel economy at 19 city/24 highway/21 combined. In 248 miles of mostly freeway driving throughout Southern California, we averaged 23.5 mpg. We did a bit better on a 100-mile freeway run with the smart cruise control set at 65 mph, achieving 28.6 mpg.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD
Wish those numbers were better

This is oh-so-close to the magic 30 mpg Clean Fleet Report feels AWD cars should set a goal to get, at a minimum, when on the open road. The 2.0T is quite peppy; peak torque kicks in at a low 1,450 rpm and pulls strong through 3,500 rpm, making highway onramps and passing big rigs a breeze. It did produce a hoarse sound under heavy acceleration, but was quiet when cruising. Hyundai’s eight-speed automatic transmission, with a Shiftronic manual shift mode, ran smooth through all demands.

The base engine, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, has less horsepower and torque but better fuel economy. Regardless of the engine, neither gets 30 mpg, which Clean Fleet Report feels is a goal all crossovers should strive for in 2019.

Driving Experience: On the Road

Our Santa Fe AWD handled well, with its 4,085 lbs. well-suited to its length, width and height. Maneuvering was easy thanks to the Continental CrossContact LX Sport 235/55R all-season tires on 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, with responsive steering especially at low speeds. The handling was taught with little body roll when pushed on corners, helped by the independent front and rear suspension with stabilizer bars, dual damper shock absorbers and active cornering control. Hyundai says the biggest change for 2019 was that the rear shocks were moved upright from an angled position to improve ride and handling in all driving conditions. The 2.0T has a tow rating of 3,500 lbs.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD
Choices are there for different driving situations

To get the most performance from the engine, you have choices of Eco, Comfort and Sport settings. Use Eco on long stretches of road to squeeze out every last drop of fuel, while Sport holds the transmission in each rev band a bit longer, sending more available torque to the rear wheels. Comfort is right in the middle for the cushiest ride. We were glad to find no paddle shifters as, for the most part, they are unnecessary on most of the cars we drive. Comfort or Eco will be the way to go for most of your driving.

Stops were solid and consistent with a power-assisted braking system consisting of vented front and solid rear discs, anti-lock brake system and electronic brake-force distribution. The latter adjusts brake proportioning to compensate for added weight from passengers or cargo, and even adjusts as fuel is consumed. This is invisible and instant to the driver and passengers, making for a comfortable and controlled ride.

Driving Experience: Exterior

Hyundai says the 2019 has a “bold new look” that begins with the cascading grille and the squinty-eyed LED headlights. There is an attractive strong detail line that runs the length of the body, from the headlights to the tail lights. The nearly flat roof has a power panoramic sunroof, rack rails, and a body-color shark fin antenna, which for Clean Fleet Report’s Santa Fe was a deep Scarlet Red. The integrated spoiler sits above the power liftgate, LED tail lights and the chrome-tipped exhaust.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD
Storage can expand

Driving Experience: Interior

The Santa Fe Ultimate seats five, with the black-on-black front power leather seats heated and ventilated and the outbound rears heated. The front seats were comfortable and the multiple adjustments, aided by the tilt and telescoping steering column, made finding a comfortable driving position easy. Rear leg and head room were plentiful; nice touches were the reclining and sliding rear seat, with leg extensions, and the window shades. Storage space behind the rear seat was good, but when the 60/40 split-folding seat was in the full down position, the storage space could handle pretty much whatever you like. The door pockets were a bit tight, but the large center console is deep. There is underfloor storage in the cargo area. The tie down hooks are recessed. When it comes time to do the jigsaw puzzle of loading luggage for that road trip, the Santa Fe is up to the task of having a place for all your gear.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD
Not fancy, but functional and well-down

The Santa Fe Ultimate interior is not fancy, which is appreciated as far too often form over function creeps into cabin design. The soft-touch material dash has a simple layout, starting with the deep-set analog tachometer and speedometer gauges that are easy to read with white lettering on a black background. The heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel has audio and telephone controls.

Operating the sound system was easy and met Clean Fleet Report’s minimum requirement for a driver-friendly system, as it had knobs for the channel and volume functions. Our Santa Fe Ultimate came with the 8.0-inch HD, color touchscreen with navigation and a multi-view camera system. The powerful and great sounding 630-watt Infinity surround-sound, high-definition audio system came with an external amplifier, subwoofer and 12 speakers. SiriusXM satellite radio is included (three-month trial subscription) as is the AM/FM/CD/MP3 radio, USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Aux-in jacks and Bluetooth streaming audio with voice recognition completed the system. The Blue Link connected services include being able to start the Santa Fe remotely. One of the best features that adds to driver safety is the head-up display. This allows the driver to keep eyes on the road while vital information is projected onto the windshield.

Adding to the interior comfort and convenience were wireless phone charging, a leather-wrapped shift knob, push button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, power windows with one-touch up/down, power door locks, power heated outside mirrors with turn indicators, carpeted floor mats, auto dimming rearview mirror with compass and Homelink, multiple beverage holders, 12-volt accessory outlets and a 110V power inverter.


The 2019 Santa Fe comes with a long list of safety features, including eight air bags, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, back-up warning, a tire pressure monitoring system, automatic stop/start and electronic stability control.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD
Santa Fe’s tech helped earn it top safety numbers

The 2019 Santa Fe has earned a US Government National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score, where 5 Stars is their highest safety rating.

Pricing and Warranties

There are fourteen different 2019 Santa Fe models to choose from, ranging in base price from $25,750 to $38,800, depending on the engine, drive system and trim level. Clean Fleet Report’s Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T AWD, had a MSRP of $38,925 which included $125 in options. All prices are before the $1,045 freight Fee.

The 2019 Santa Fe comes with these warranties:

  • Powertrain                   10 years/100,000 miles
  • New Vehicle                  Five years/60,000 miles  
  • Roadside Assistance     Five years/Unlimited miles        
  • Anti-perforation            Seven years/Unlimited miles

Observations: 2019 Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T AWD

When Clean Fleet Report reviewed the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe it was called the “Sport”. Sport has been dropped for 2019, so the two-row, five-passenger reviewed here is simply the Santa Fe, with the Santa Fe XL being the three-row version. Hang on, though, the Santa Fe XL is being replaced by the 2020 Hyundai Palisade. Whew, got it? Stay tuned to Clean Fleet Report for the Palisade review as soon as the model is available (it just went on sale).

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD
Good surprises highlight the Santa Fe

Reading owner comments on their 2019 Santa Fe reveals common words: “expectations exceeded,’ “quality feel and quietness” and costing “several thousands less” than other brands they shopped. The redesigned 2019 Santa Fe offers clean, contemporary styling and a class-up, comfortable interior with convenient and desirable seating and storage flexibility. The features list is long and deep. Having choices of front wheel and all-wheel drive means everyone looking for a midsize SUV will find something to fit their needs.

The new Santa Fe is sized-right for parking, has a ride that is quiet and calming and respectable handling. The Santa Fe’s high safety rating is also a plus when driving any tall vehicle. Clean Fleet Report would like to see higher fuel economy numbers, though.

The 2019 Santa Fe is a very capable SUV and should be on your shopping list.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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About Author: John Faulkner

John Faulkner is an automotive marketing professional with more than 30 years experience branding, launching and marketing automobiles. He has worked with General Motors (all Divisions), Chrysler (Dodge, Jeep, Eagle), Ford and Lincoln-Mercury, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota on consumer events and sales training programs. His interest in automobiles is broad and deep, beginning as a child riding in the back seat of his parent's 1950 Studebaker. He has a keen appreciation of Art Deco design, no bias for domestic versus foreign makes and loves competition - whether that be F1, IndyCar, Sports Cars, NASCAR or participating in Track Days at places such as Laguna Seca, Thunderhill or Willow Springs. John lives in Dana Point, CA, and enjoys a top-down drive on PCH on an early Sunday morning.

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