New Hyundai Santa Fe Raises the Bar

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The Hyundai Santa Fe (@hyundaisantafe) was the first Korean brand vehicle to win AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award. That was in 2001. There have been four generations of the Hyundai Santa Fe selling 1.6 million units in the USA. All have been successively better than its predecessor. The 5th Generation Hyundai Santa Fe, the 2019 model, has just been released and all Hyundai dealers should have them in their showrooms by the end of August 2018.

2019 Santa Fe – a REAL SUV 

Hyundai Motor America product planners rightly concluded that the previous generation had gotten too soft and sporty. The stylists of that fourth generation sacrificed utility for style making the windshield faster and making the side glass narrower. This gave the impression of a smaller vehicle.

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe moves away from the swoopy, sporty look of the 4th generation.  It evolves to a style that is stronger and more confident looking.  Clearly, the fact that a vehicle is a crossover – meaning unit body construction instead of the traditional SUV body-on-frame construction – does not detract from its SUV-ness.

The windshield is stiffer which improves ease of getting in and out. The side windows are larger due to a lower belt line. This provides better all-around visibility. The vehicle is a bit larger and the final result is a crossover SUV that is within a half-inch here and a half-inch there of its facing completion. There are no deficiencies in its package.

Loaded With Technology Still Reasonably Priced 

As is customary with Hyundai products, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is loaded with the latest technology and especially new safety technology. The 5th generation has Hyundai’s SafetySense suite of features as standard equipment. This adds to the vehicle’s cost and subsequently its price, but HMA management says its dealers find customers are accepting slightly higher prices for the improved safety features.

When you check all the boxes and get the highest model and all the features, prices can move a bit above $35,000.  This still seems like a value. At this price point the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe feature set includes Hyundai SafetySense, head up display, memory heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation system, premium sound and others.

Interior Design Top Notch 

The interior design shows attention to detail found in more expensive XSUVs. The instrument panel is a double cockpit design with a sweeping concave area holding the instrument cluster in front of the driver. There is a spacious shape mimicking the driver’s area in front of the front seat passenger. This is a design that is very difficult to get right in production because the fit and finish on each side can be very difficult to line up. The Santa Fe examples I saw were all very well aligned.

Enough Oomph for Most Driving Conditions 

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is powered by either a 185-horsepower 2.4L DOHC Naturally Aspirated 4-cylinder or a 2.0L Turbo 4-cylinder. The examples we drove were the 2.0L Turbo four mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. With 235-horsepower and 260 lb-ft torque the Santa Fe performed better than expected at the high altitudes where we drove the vehicle.

Hyundai was not shy about taking the Santa Fe on rough roads. Dirt, washboards, the Santa Fe handled it all with no problem. The final proof that the Santa Fe is a very capable XSUV off-road was a steep hill climb over dirt, mud and rocks. No problem. While almost no owner of a Hyundai Santa Fe will ever take their vehicle on a climb like this one, the vehicle is capable of relatively aggressive off-roading and more.

All-in-all, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is an outstanding replacement for the outgoing 4th generation Santa Fe and should help Hyundai improve its truck mix from 43.5% July 2018 calendar year to date to 50% in pretty short order.

Future Hyundai XSUVs Will Push Truck Mix over 50%

Santa Fe cannot achieve that mix increase alone. There will be several additional XSUVs added to the Hyundai truck line-up. There will be a very small XSUV positioned below the small, and very successful, Hyundai Kona. There will be the Hyundai Nexo fuel cell XSUV. There will be a larger three row seven/eight passenger XSUV above the Hyundai Santa Fe. Finally, Hyundai is very serious about competing in the

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