Overview

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Overview (Final Score: A-)

Completely redesigned for 2019, the Santa Fe has a new look inside and out and now includes a two-row design without using the Sport model name. This marks the fourth generation for the Hyundai Santa Fe and it remains a choice abundant with features and quality for the price paid.

The renaming of the Santa Fe may be confusing to some. The "Sport" title has been dropped altogether and the Santa Fe is now a two-row midsize crossover by default. The three-row model is now designated the XL. The two models are almost identical except for that third row addition in the XL and the slightly larger body dimensions that result. The new Santa Fe is much larger than the previous-generation Santa Fe Sport and more on par with the full-sized Santa Fe instead.

Big improvements to the 2019 Santa Fe include a larger interior, more smartphone integration for infotainment, and lots of standard advanced safety technologies. There are a few downers too, like the anemic four-cylinder base engine and the large roof pillars impeding the driver's view.

Still, in all, the new 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is a very well-made crossover with a lot of upsides. The Santa Fe comes in two model designations (Santa Fe and Santa Fe XL) and five trim levels (SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, and Ultimate). There are two engine options and either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

What We Love About the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe:


  • Great value in its features versus price

  • One of the best warranties in the business

  • Upgrade engine is an excellent match for the Santa Fe's size


What We Don't Love About the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe:


  • Base engine is sluggish and not very efficient

  • Roof pillar design impedes driver's rearview heavily

  • Ride quality can be harsh at times


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Exterior View (8/10)

The new 2019 Santa Fe is contemporary in its design, with a blend-in quality that somehow doesn't make it feel boilerplate. Instead, the design gives it a comfortable appeal that doesn't challenge any convention just to get attention.

The Santa Fe has sleek likes, with a shortened hood and curved roof to match its upward-trending body lines and shortened overhang at the rear. The pinching greenhouse aids the gentle slope of the roofline to give it a faster pace. The curve of the rear hatch is flattened below the window, squaring off the rear of the Santa Fe for a more dramatic effect.

All of this makes for a good-looking, though not terribly memorable, crossover-SUV. The Santa Fe carries itself well and looks good without being demanding of one's attention.

Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (10/10)

The greatest strength to be found in the 2019 Santa Fe is in its interior. Hyundai is well-known for making the most of interior space and that knowledge really plays out in the roomy and smartly-appointed Santa Fe. This new Santa Fe is comfortable, quiet, and classy for its ergonomics.

Getting into and out of the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is simple for most everyone. Large door openings, narrow lower sills, and high entrance clearance make the Santa Fe an easy access vehicle all the way around.

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Adjustments in the Santa Fe's seating is also plentiful, no matter the trim point. One point of concern is the steering wheel, which doesn't move as much as some might like, but with the exception of the very short or very tall, most will find a sweet spot easily.

The real story is with the 2019 Santa Fe's roominess. Both the front and back seats, despite the roofline's slope, have a lot of headroom and plenty of leg and shoulder room as well. Seating three across in the two-row model is doable for most, but will be cramped for adults. The third-row option in the XL is good for children, but not adult-friendly and access is a squeeze between the second-row seat and the door pillar.

In all trim levels, though, the Santa Fe has excellent materials quality and use. Lower trims have less flashy materials choices, but still look upscale and inviting. Upper trims can get very luxurious in design, especially in the Limited model we drove. Even lower models have great-looking speaker grilles and well-done upholstery, though.

Cargo space in the Hyundai Santa Fe is about average for the segment. Rated at 35.9 cubic feet behind the second row, the Santa Fe has a right-height loading floor and 60/40 split-fold middle seats as standard. There is more space underneath the smart tri-fold cargo cover, which can also act as a divider to keep cargo from sliding around. There are smartly-placed tie-downs in the rear as well, helping make the cargo space more useful. Towing in the Santa Fe is rated at only 2,000 pounds with the base engine and a robust 3,500 pounds with the turbocharged upgrade engine.

Technology (9/10)

Hyundai has done a lot to improve infotainment technology in its offerings. The 2019 Santa Fe offers the latest. It comes standard with a 7-inch center screen with a well-done main menu page for easy access to its most-used items (radio, climate, etc). The icons are large, but not cluttered, and are easily usable both parked and while in motion. Smartphone integration comes with both Bluetooth and Apple Carplay/Android Auto. Streaming and USB-based audio is there as well. One point, though, is the lack of USB ports in the lower-end models of the Santa Fe. These have three, one data port up front and two charge-only ports in the rear. The standard today has become at least four and the rear ports are slow charging plugs that barely keep up with an in-use phone. Upgrading trim levels improves the number of available ports, but not their power output.

Voice control in the Hyundai Santa Fe works well, but can be a bit limiting. It's best used with an attached smartphone for better integration and more natural-voice commands.

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Fuel Economy (9/10)

The base model engine has a good front-wheel drive rating from the EPA of 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. We didn't get to test this engine, but have heard that it has difficulty achieving those numbers in the real world.

The upgrade to a turbocharged four lowers fuel economy estimates to 20 in the city and 25 on the highway. Our real-world testing proved those out, though, and achieved 26 mpg on the highway in an all-wheel drive-equipped model, which is better than estimates.

The V6 XL model is EPA-rated at 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (10/10)

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is an all-new generation for the model, but still retains high reliability expectation. The J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study ranks the Santa Fe as "Among the Best" for reliability surveys.

Hyundai's 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is among the best in the business.

Safety (10/10)

The 2019 Santa Fe has received crash test ratings from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). With good results.

The NHTSA gives the 2019 Santa Fe 5 Stars overall (out of 5), with four stars each for frontal and rollover and five stars for side crash ratings.

The IIHS gives top scores of "Good" for all crash tests on the Santa Fe plus a score of "Good" for headlights and "Superior" for front crash prevention technologies.

Performance (8/10)

There are three engine options in the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, depending on its model and trim configuration. The standard Santa Fe comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that outputs 185 horsepower to a newly-added eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is default. This engine is slightly underpowered for the Santa Fe's size but capable enough for those who don't need speed in their diet.

The upgrade engine is a well-matched 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that outputs 235 horsepower to the same eight-speed auto. This, again, defaults to front-wheel drive but has AWD as an option. The turbo isn't exactly sport in the Santa Fe, but it's definitely confident.

The Santa Fe XL comes with a 3.3-liter V6 that pairs to a six-speed automatic transmission. This is right-sized for the XL with 290 horsepower in a broad powerband.

None of the Santa Fe's iterations are sporty, per se, or fun to drive, as it were. All are competent and quiet on the highway with good around-town maneuverability. The impediments to rear visibility via the thick roof pillars, however, can make the parking lot a guessing game. The Santa Fe's suspension is balanced and compliant, though, and steering feels good for natural driving.

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Pricing and Value (9/10)

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is well-priced for the size and amenities offered. The SEL Plus trim level seems to optimize things for convenience and safety, though, and is our recommended starting point for shoppers. This trim includes the hands-free liftgate, dual-zone climate, and better audio system without adding expensive upgrades.

We also like the Limited trim, which costs a bit more, but brings the 2.0L turbo for the standard model, which makes driveability more palatable.

Total Score and Competitive Comparison (73/80, 91%)

Comparables to the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe are plentiful as this two-row and three-row segment of midsize offerings is large. The Honda CR-V and Pilot, Kia Sorento, and Nissan Murano and Pathfinder are all competitors here. The Honda models offer more verve, the Kia has similar roominess and more budget appeal, while the Nissan models offer more upscale interiors.

The 2019 Santa Fe is an excellent choice in the midsize market, however, and is one of our top-ranked crossover-SUVs for this model year. It's a strong contender with a lot of value and excellence.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
SUV - AWD
SE SE 2.4L Auto AWD 4 Cylinder AWD 27450
SEL SEL 2.4L Auto AWD 4 Cylinder AWD 29300
SEL Plus SEL Plus 2.4L Auto AWD 4 Cylinder AWD 31500
Limited Limited 2.4L Auto AWD 4 Cylinder AWD 34300
Limited Limited 2.0T Auto AWD 4 Cylinder AWD 35900
Ultimate Ultimate 2.4L Auto AWD 4 Cylinder AWD 37150
Ultimate Ultimate 2.0T Auto AWD 4 Cylinder AWD 38800
SUV - FWD
SE SE 2.4L Auto FWD 4 Cylinder FWD 25750
SEL SEL 2.4L Auto FWD 4 Cylinder FWD 27600
SEL Plus SEL Plus 2.4L Auto FWD 4 Cylinder FWD 29800
Limited Limited 2.4L Auto FWD 4 Cylinder FWD 32600
Limited Limited 2.0T Auto FWD 4 Cylinder FWD 34200
Ultimate Ultimate 2.4L Auto FWD 4 Cylinder FWD 35450
Ultimate Ultimate 2.0T Auto FWD 4 Cylinder FWD 37100

Comparison of 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe with Similar Cars

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe MSRP Invoice
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe $25,750 $24,749
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2019 Nissan Rogue $25,020 $23,686 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe VS 2019 Nissan Rogue
2019 Honda CR-V $24,450 $22,963 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe VS 2019 Honda CR-V
2019 Toyota RAV4 $25,650 $23,983 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe VS 2019 Toyota RAV4
2019 Jeep Cherokee $25,045 $24,929 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe VS 2019 Jeep Cherokee
2019 Kia Sorento $26,290 $25,278 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe VS 2019 Kia Sorento

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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