Blog First Drive: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai’s redesigned Santa Fe is a big shift in style, functionality and powertrains

by Graeme Fletcher,

At this point, Hyundai has two versions of the Santa Fe — the smaller, five-seat Sport and the larger, seven-seat XL. The introduction of the fourth-generation Santa Fe will change things radically – it uses the Kia Sorento’s platform and its 2,765-millimetre wheelbase, which is up 65 from Sport, and it will also be offered in both five- and seven-seat derivatives. For now, the current Santa Fe XL will soldier on as a three-row ride, but will make way for a new crossover due in 2019.

The new Santa Fe marks a big shift in style and functionality. When launched late third-quarter this year, the Santa Fe will be offered with five seats and two engines. In early 2019, the three-row model will be added.

One of the nits with the current Sport is rearward visibility. To solve this, the new model has 41 per cent larger rear quarter windows. The size increase not only improves visibility, it promises to open up the third row and give it an airier feel. The five-seater boasts lots of cargo space — the volume is up 33 litres to 1,036, which is larger than the Ford Edge and its 927 litres, and it’s accessed through a power liftgate.

Up front, the rework puts quality materials, an attractive two-tone finish with leather wrapping parts of the instrument panel, and lots of functionality at the driver’s disposal. The instrumentation is clean and offers different looks — Eco, Comfort and Sport and allows the driver to pick the information displayed in the centre screen, including how the all-wheel-drive system is divvying up the power.

To the right is the infotainment screen; the tester featured the top-line eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and a good navigation system. The latter proved to be somewhat chatty, telling the driver to be cautious when a section of road was deemed to have above average collision rates. Novel at first, but annoying the more Moly of the Maps prattled on. New is an available head-up display that includes the usual info, plus directions when a destination is set in the navigation system. It proved invaluable when negotiating the hustle and bustle that defines downtown Seoul and its congestion.

Read the rest of the test drive and review on the website. Photos from