You can’t look in two directions without seeing another mid-size crossover, so why would Hyundai think it can make a dent in the segment? What can it contribute? Well, since its beginning, the Santa Fe has been known for pushing boundaries in style among normally conservative colleagues while delivering a value-focused price and enjoyable driving experience. The redesigned 2019 edition is no different. It’s a turbocharged parade of style that happens to be built in America.
Designers clearly had a meeting of minds when they sculpted the Santa Fe and its more luxurious and larger sibling, the Palisade. Both look like they should rest in Genesis showrooms with their LED exterior lighting, squinty headlamps, large grille, neat creases, and liberal use of chrome. It’s all placed over 19” wheels in Ultimate trim.
Interiors are equally exquisite with their brown quilted leather seats with copper stitching, perfectly sized leather-wrapped steering wheel, and roof upholstery that looks and feels like your favorite sweatshirt. The dash, doors, and console are also lush with stitched brown coverings. Gray woodgrain sweeps from dash to doors as speaker grilles have a chiseled rock effect – all very cool.
There’s a plethora of comfort and technology too. Heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, and panoramic sunroof elevate the passenger experience – as does dual-zone automatic climate control and thumping Infinity audio. A large intuitive touchscreen handles audio and navigation functions while a wireless charging pad and Bluetooth keeps devices humming.
A full suite of safety tech includes adaptive cruise, forward collision avoidance, blind spot warning, lane keep assist, and rear cross path detection systems. A rear seat sensor alerts parents so kids aren’t left behind. Even better, the blind spot system warns you of approaching traffic as you depart the vehicle.
Beneath the crisp bodywork is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine conjuring up 235 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque – all routed to the front-drive system through an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is optional, but we skipped it. Routing that much power to the front wheels won’t lay yards of rubber, but the torque gives it a peppy launch off the line and keeps it humming as speed rises. Auto stop/start, which pauses the engine at rest, contributes to 20/25-MPG city/highway.
I wouldn’t write to momma about fuel economy because several mid-size crossovers achieve comfortably over 30-MPG highway, but it’s a pretty nice drive. The turbo is smooth, always streaming beneath your feet while the suspension and steering feel precise, able to absorb rough pavement without shaking teeth inside. Clip it through the twisties and you’ll be reminded the Santa Fe is a roomy crossover, but set it down the Interstate, and it is beyond pleasant.
The fact that Hyundai is delivering a worthy competitor to the Ford Edge, Jeep Compass, Chevy Blazer, and Honda Passport is impressive – especially considering how worthy all are. So, we’ve discussed style and driving enjoyment, so what about value? How does a base price of $24,250 or $38,205 as-tested sound? It seems like an incredibly good value and having the Santa Fe built in Montgomery, Alabama only makes it better.
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2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
Five-passenger, FWD Crossover
Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbo-4, 8-spd auto trans
Output: 235hp/260 lb.-ft. torque
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
Wheels f/r: 19”/19”
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: Design, Driving
Fuel economy: 20/25 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Montgomery, AL
Base/As-tested price: $24,250/38,205