To help it stand out in today’s crowded, highly competitive midsize crossover market, Hyundai has given the new 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe has a bolder SUV-like exterior design. The Santa Fe’s changes are evolutionary rather than seismic, but in a market that includes rivals like the Ford Edge, Jeep Cherokee, Nissan Murano, Chevrolet Equinox, and Honda CR-V, every detail matters.
Buyers still have a choice of two four-cylinder engines – just like the outgoing Santa Fe Sport – one of them turbocharged, with each paired to an updated 8-speed automatic transmission. The Santa Fe also offers all-wheel drive across its five trim levels, while delivering a modest bump in overall cargo space and rear legroom.
Five trim levels are offered: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, and Ultimate, but only the Limited and Ultimate are offered with an optional turbocharged engine. The standard motor is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that delivers 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm.
Pricing for the 2019 Santa Fe starts at $26,480, for the SE trim level with front-wheel drive and the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Standard features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 17-inch wheels, 7-inch touch screen for the infotainment system, and an idle stop-start system to help save fuel. Speaking of fuel economy, the Santa Fe posts only mid-pack economy figures, with an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in city driving and 29 mpg on the highway for the SE trim in front-wheel drive format.
A major plus point for the Santa Fe is the extensive list of standard safety items. Hyundai officials seemed very confident these would give their SUV some glittering safety scores in crash test ratings done by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, as well as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Those official results were still pending at the time of our test drive. A top safety rating in both set of testing criteria could – and probably should – instantly elevate the turbo Santa Fe in buyer’s minds.