Most SUV consumers know the Hyundai Santa Fe as the larger (three-row) model and the Sport edition as the smaller (two-row) one. That’s the way it’s been since 2013, when the third-generation Santa Fe made its debut.
For the 2019 model year, an all-new Santa Fe ended this naming practice. Meanwhile, consumers will get an all-new engine choice, transmission, and exterior (among other things). Here’s a rundown of the changes in the 2019 Santa Fe.
1. Santa Fe vs. Santa Fe XL
The model that used to be Santa Fe Sport got replaced by this redesigned Santa Fe. It continues to seat five passengers.
Otherwise, the larger version of this SUV will continue for the 2019 model year but will be known as Santa Fe XL. For 2020, Hyundai will introduce a three-row, eight-passenger model to replace it. From that point on, there shouldn’t be any confusion.
2. New engine and transmission
While buyers can still pick from a base 4-cylinder (185 horsepower) and more powerful turbo engine (235 horses), a Santa Fe Diesel enters the picture for 2019. This 2.2-liter engine provides 190 horsepower and 322 pound-feet of torque.
In the diesel model, buyers can add a seat for the third row. All three engines pair with an all-new 8-speed transmission, replacing the 6-speed from the previous generation.
3. Exterior upgrades
You’ll notice the new look of the 2019 Santa Fe immediately. It features the “cascading” grille, a wider stance, and LED daytime lights above the LED headlights.
Other changes include a higher back end and 19-inch diamond-cut wheels. Without question, this model delivers an upgrade over the previous Santa Fe Sport’s exterior.
4. Cabin and interior
Hyundai has tweaked several aspects of the cabin, but the most obvious change is the increase in space. The new Santa Fe is almost three inches longer, providing almost an equivalent bump in passenger space (in cubic inches).
There’s also slightly more head room and cargo room behind the second row. In terms of ride comfort, Hyundai says its improved suspension and rear shock placement make for a cushier cabin in any terrain.
5. Safety and interior tech
A 7-inch audio display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto comes standard in the new Santa Fe. Cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free controls, LED daytime running lights, and high-beam assist also come in every model.
An impressive array of safety features comes standard as well. Rear-traffic warning, blind-spot warning, forward-collision avoidance assist, and smart cruise control are included in the sticker price of every Santa Fe.
In addition, there’s one major safety innovation: Rear Occupant Alert. Standard in every model from SEL Plus on up, it starts by reminding drivers that they opened the back doors prior to the trip (and potentially put a child in the back). After the doors are locked, the system continues to monitor the back for movements so it can detect a child who may be in danger inside a hot car.
6. Pricing and availability
Despite the long list of changes in the redesigned model, Hyundai barely bumped the starting price ($25,500) of the base Santa Fe. (It went up $550.) Multiple new trims will give buyers more choices for customization.
Hyundai’s 10-year, 100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty is still in effect. The 2019 Santa Fe began arriving in U.S. dealerships at the start of August.