2019 Hyudai Santa Fe Review

The crossover market has never been hotter than before. People are really embracing the tall, rugged form factor, and the higher driving position a crossover provides. Each manufacture is trying desperately to stand out from the rest. Some offer more styles, some offer better utilities, and some offer great driving characteristics. The totally redesigned 2019 Santa Fe represents Hyundai's latest efforts to stand out among the crowd. Is it enough?

Thanks to Hyundai Canada, I was given the chance to test drive the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate for a week. Below is my unbiased review.

I really dig the bigger, bolder design of the 2019 Santa Fe. It shares the same platform with the Kia Sorenta, which is 65mm longer than the outgoing model. The longer wheelbase not only gives the car a more proportional look, but also provides better ride quality and more room in the cabin.

The front fascia features the all new cascading grille and the twin headlamp design that I first saw on the Kona. Where you think the headlights would be are actually the LED daytime running lights. The actually headlights are located in the housing below. While this configuration looks rather busy on the Kona's small front fascia, it fits perfectly with the sporty nose of the Santa Fe.

The side profile of the car is not as interesting as the front. The chiseled wheel acres and the silver inserts on the side door panels keep the Santa Fe looking light on its feet. The optional 19" alloy wheels add to the ruggedness of the car.

The stand out feature in the back is the 3D LED tail light. They look almost trippy from up-close, but also gives the car a high-tech vibe. The silver rocker panel breaks up the lower bumper to make the rear profile lighter. Overall impression of the exterior of the 2019 Santa Fe is a good looking vehicle that is unique, sporty, but also composed and refined. A winning combo.

The interior of the car also impresses. Our tester comes with a two-toned interior that looks modern and premium. Soft-touch trims and aluminum highlights make the interior look expensive. The speaker grille has a very interesting 3D pattern that I have not seen in other cars before. The use of interior space is highly functional and visually pleasing.

The front seats are both heated and vented. They provide good lumbar and lateral support. The optional 12-way power adjustable driver's seat also comes with power thigh extension for added leg support.

The rear cabin of the Santa Fe is among the mot spacious I have been. The rear seats can slide forward and backward, and they also recline. The reclined position provides the rear passengers an opportunity to admire the huge panoramic sunroof that covers majority of the cabin. For the 5 seater version, the rear cabin should comfortably hosts three adults even on longer drives.

The infotainment system of the Santa Fe centers around the 7.0" (8.0" in the Ultimate) touchscreen display situated in the center dash. Some might not like the tacked-on look of the display, but I don't find it to be an issue. The software system is quick, responsive, and easy to navigate. It also comes with Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

The instrument cluster is almost entirely digital for maximum visibility and configurability. With the addition of the optional head-up display, driver can get crucial driving information whichever direction he or she looks.

The Santa Fe also provides an optional wireless charging pad for your smartphone, and the 630W Infinity Audio System in our tester sounds fantastic.

Safety and Driver Assistance
Hyudai has been very generous at providing the latest safety and driver assists. The followings are standard for all trims above the Essential:
  • Driver Attention Warning
  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection
  • Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keeping Assist
  • High Beam Assist
  • Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist
  • Parking Distance Warning — Rear
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist
  • Rear Occupant Alert
  • Safe Exit Assist 
Some of them deserves extra explanation. The Rear Occupant Alert uses a ultrasound system to monitor the rear seats. If movement is detected after the vehicle is parked and locked, the car will honk the horn and flash the lights to remind parents and pet owners that they have left their precious cargos in the car.

The Safe Exist Assist prevents the rear car door from being opened if it senses something approaching from behind. Preventing possible collisions.

These are innovative approach to solve real word problems that have dire consequences. I appreciate them greatly.

It earns 5 star safety rating from NHTSA and Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS.

This is perhaps the one area that is left wanted in an otherwise perfect SUV. The standard Santa Fe comes with a 2.4L four-cylinder engine that produces 185hp of power and 178 lb.ft. of torque. Our tester comes with the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 235hp of power and 260lb.ft. of torque. That power is sent to the wheels through a 8-speed automatic transmission and a all wheel drive system called HTRAC.

While the power and torque for the 2.0L turbocharged four sounds decent on paper, there is a very noticeable delay with power delivery. It takes a couple seconds for the turbocharged engine to come to live. Keeping the vehicle in Sport mode helps slightly, but it also tends to hold gears for way too long. I ended up leaving it in Smart mode and just learned to anticipate the power surge.

Besides the huge delay, the Santa Fe's ride quality is actually decent. It does a great job of dampening road bumps while keeping the body roll in check at corners. The steering is easy and predictable, but it also lacks feedback.

The thing is, if you are not intending to drive the Santa Fe hard, the car actually delivers a stress free driving experience that should satisfy most drivers. The Santa Fe is rated at 12.5/9.6 L/100km (City/Highway). It is not the most efficient SUV out there, but decent.

Cargo Space & Storage
The 2019 Santa Fe provide plenty of cargo behind the rear seats at 1016L. With the 60/40 seats folded flat, you get 2019L of cargo space that is easily accessible through the large power lift-gate. Under the cargo floor are big storage bins that are actually very usable to keep your items (like my camera bag) organized and out of sight. The rear seats can be easily folded via the electronic buttons in the trunk.

In cabin storage options are above average. There is a storage try above the glove compartment for your smaller items, a storage tray below the rear air vent, deep side door pockets, and integrated cup holders in the fold-down armrest in the rear cabin.

The 2019 Santa Fe really stands out as a complete package. It offers almost everything I want in a modern day crossover. The good look, spacious cargo, modern infotainment system, and premium interior all contribute to an excellent family vehicle. I only wish the drivetrain to be a little bit more refined and responsive. On the other hand, most drivers wouldn't complain about it in day to day commutes. For the price, it is hard not to recommend this gem.

Test Vehicle
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate
MSRP as Tested
$44,999 CAD without Destination
Scarlet red


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