2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

An all-around family hauler

  • 박재승 (james@koreatimes.net) --
  • 25 Feb 2019

By James Park



  Hyundai Santa Fe has been around long enough in Canada to have become a familiar face. This smallish mid-size utility vehicle built its reputation around reliability, practicality and value.

   Personally speaking, the jelly-bean exterior of the first Santa Fe to arrive in Canada did not awaken any dormant emotions of lust. But the vehicle’s styling progressively improved (beauty is subjective) and the latest iteration really grabs attention.

   The all-new 2019 Santa Fe looks sharper and sleeker compared to the model it replaces. The new front-end design emphasizes massive grill and narrow lights for that ‘sinister’ demeanor. The vehicle also appears longer and wider (because they are) than before, but also heavier from some angles. Still, it is one of the more attractive utility vehicles out there.

   Inside the cabin, one appreciates the simple elegance of the dashboard layout. The 8-inch touch screen is easy to comprehend and the audio system, thankfully, has the volume dial. HVAC is equally simple to manipulate.

   Visibility appears excellent all around and the materials used look high-quality and soft to touch. The overall fit and finish gets above average grade. Heated and cooled leather seats are supportive but for this writer, not overly comfortable.

   By the way, the Santa Fe has dropped ‘Sport’ from its name. It wants to be known as just ‘Santa Fe.’ The comparatively larger Santa Fe XL carries on for now, but without the styling makeover.


As before, two engine choices are offered. The normal-breathing 2.4 litre four-cylinder that generates 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque serves as the base power-plant. Those who want more power can opt for the 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for maximum 235 horses and 260 lb-ft of healthy twist. Both mills are mated to new eight-speed automatic transmission.

   The Santa Fe lineup offers plenty of choice with the base front-wheel drive (FWD) only model starting from $28,999. Add the package of electronic nannies called ‘Smart Sense’ and the price increases to $30,199. Click the AWD box to further increase the price to $32,199.

   Here, the journey ends for the base motor. Models with turbo engine are all paired with AWD and the least expensive among these starts from $37,099. Provided to this writer is the top-of-the-line Ultimate model that demands $44,999 before taxes, destination and other mandatory gouging.

   The base engine has adequate power and when paired with FWD, gets official 10.7 litres per 100 km in city and 8.2 litres on highway. AWD gets 11.2 litres and 8.7 litres, respectively. The force-fed motor is comparatively thirstier at 12.3 litres in city and 9.8 litres on highway. The good news is that one can feed it regular juice, no problem.


   Even now, the Hyundai vehicles are known for their value and even the base Santa Fe carries plethora of standard equipments.

   Sitting in the Ultimate, one can easily believe the vehicle is worth 20,000 dollars more than it actually is. The luxury-car worthy options include head-up display (HUD), auto stop/start (it can thankfully be turned off), panoramic sunroof, wireless mobile-phone charging, rain-sensing wipers and so on.

   ‘Safety Sense’ is comprised of such electronic reminders as forward collision mitigation, pedestrian detection as well as cyclists sneaking up from behind, blind-side monitoring and the active lane-keeping assist. The car follows highway lane markings quite well.

   Blistering power it has not, but the Santa Fe gets off the line pretty well. Push the Sport button and the car seems to hunker down a little more… but without really wanting to – best to leave it in Normal. As a family utility, the vehicle’s handling shows enough confidence going around corners without sacrificing ride. The car is never jittery going over small bumps and ruts.

   The AWD system is front-wheel biased, sending torque to rear wheels only when needed. However, the system can be locked for getting out of deeper snow and other more dicey situations. Still, don’t attempt to follow a Jeep Wrangler into the Rubicon Trail.

   At the end of the day, the Santa Fe is a capable family utility with room for five adults. Like a decathlete, it is an all-around competent vehicle that does everything quite well without really outperforming its rivals on any particular category. Many consumers would be more than okay with this. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)



2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate

Price: $44,999

Engine: 2.0 litre turbo 4

Power: 235 hp/260 lb-ft

Transmission: 8 spd auto

Drive: AWD

Fuel: 12.3 litres per 100km (city), 9.8 litres (highway)

Best: sophisticated atmosphere, styling

Worst: bit thirsty

Competition: Toyota RAV4, Nissan Murano, Ford Edge, Kia Sorento


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