The Hyundai Santa Fe gets a makeover for 2019 with improved handling, more room and even more standard features, giving buyers a lot of value for the money. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and several driver assistance features are now included on every trim. It’s no wonder the Santa Fe is the best-selling SUV for the Korean automaker.
Hyundai has tweaked the names of its two- and three-row crossovers for 2019. The two row version is now the Santa Fe, changed from Santa Fe Sport, and the three-row model is now the Santa Fe XL.
The five-passenger 2019 Santa Fe come well equipped but cost less than many other midsize SUVs. There are seven trims: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, Limited 2.0T, Ultimate and Ultimate 2.0T. Starting prices range from $25,000 to $38,800. All come standard with front-wheel-drive and a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. You can get all-wheel-drive on any trim for $1,700
My tester gets the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 235 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. That compares with the base 2.4-liter four-banger that makes 185 horses and 178 lb.-ft. Both engines are paired with a new eight-speed automatic that replaces the old six-speed.
There’s enough power for everyday driving situations, but the Santa Fe is not sporty. It’s not particularly peppy when accelerating—you’ll notice some turbo lag—and you may wish for more power when the vehicle is loaded for a road trip, especially when passing at freeway speeds or going over a mountain pass. On the plus side, the Santa Fe is easy to drive and handles more like a sedan than a crossover. The eight-speed transmission shifts smoothly and quickly. The Santa Fe stays planted with limited body roll when cornering. Overall, the ride is smooth and comfortable. Visibility is good all the way around.
Fuel efficiency is okay for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 19 mpg city and 24 mpg highway with a combined rating of 21 mpg. I got 23 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The attractive interior is comfortable and quiet, thanks to improved insulation materials. Hyundai does a good job of making the interior look nice, even with a fair amount of hard plastics. The finish looks good with upscale touches like two-tone trim and contrast stitching. Passengers in both rows of seating enjoy good leg- and headroom. The rear seats recline and also slide forward and back a few inches so you can adjust legroom.
Standard features on all trims include remote keyless entry, rearview camera, cloth upholstery, six-way adjustable driver seat, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, seven-inch infotainment display, Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. Many driver assistance technologies are also standard including blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic alert, and automatic high-beam headlights. Other standard technologies include driver attention warning, which monitors the driver for fatigue or inattention, and safe exit assist, which warns rear passengers if they try to get out of the vehicle when another car is approaching from the rear.
Available features include proximity key entry with push button start, eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, memory system for driver seat, heated second-row seats, heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, eight-inch touchscreen navigation, 12-speaker Infinity premium audio system, satellite radio, surround view camera, head-up display, and wireless device charging.
The Blue Link eight-inch infotainment system is user-friendly and easy to reach. The screen is positioned so as to reduce glare. There are also buttons and knobs for many functions. The system responds quickly to touch and voice commands.
Cargo space is about average for the class. There are 35.9 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place and 71.3 cubes with the rear seat folded down. The second row is 60/40 split-folding providing flexibility in hauling passengers and cargo. SEL Plus and higher trims come with a hands-free power liftgate which opens automatically when the key fob is behind the vehicle.
The 2019 Santa Fe gets an top overall score of five out of five stars in NHTSA safety ratings, and is named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The 2019 Santa Fe has one of the best warranties in the class. It comes with a five-year/60,000-mile warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Costs less than many rivals
Long list of standard features including several driver assistance technologies
Comfortable and roomy cabin
All-wheel-drive is available on all trims
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard
Excellent safety ratings
Neither powertrain is very peppy
Less cargo space than some rivals
My tester starts at $38,800. Carpeted floor mats are $125. Delivery fee is $980 bringing the grand total to $39,905.
It’s tough to find another midsize SUV that offers all of the features, practicality, comfort and the warranty at such a reasonable price. The Santa Fe was already an excellent vehicle and gets even better for 2019. That said, if sporty performance is important to you, the new Santa Fe may not be your first choice.