Hyundai gave the Santa Fe mid-size SUV some polarizing front styling as part of its 2019 redesign, but did it change the Santa Fe’s fundamental nature as a solid value pick among its competitors?
Cars.com reviewer Mike Hanley took on the task of finding that out as part of his full review of the 2019 Santa Fe, which you can read on our model page, where you can also find the Santa Fe’s specs, pricing details and much more. Check out some of the Santa Fe’s hits and misses below to find out what we think of the family hauler.
Things We Like
We’ll answer this one right off the bat: The redesign did not diminish the Santa Fe’s value proposition. “Hyundai has long been known for giving shoppers a lot for their money,” Hanley wrote, “and the redesigned Santa Fe reinforces that reputation with its long list of standard active-safety and technology features at a starting price thousands of dollars less than some competitors.”
2. Ride Quality
It seems that part of Hyundai’s focus was on making the Santa Fe’s ride as comfortable as possible, and that pays off. Hanley also praised the Korean automaker for doing so without making the SUV feel like it’s floating along above the road.
3. Interior Quality
The materials used inside the Santa Fe’s cabin, while not luxurious, are good for its class, particularly on the top Ultimate trim level. Outward visibility and backseat room are also high points, and the controls layout is intuitive for ease of use.
4. Standard and Optional Tech
Standard tech features include a 7-inch multimedia display, with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included along with Bluetooth streaming. An optional 8-inch screen is available, as are things like a head-up display, 360-degree camera system and wireless device charging.
The 2019 Santa Fe was awarded a 2019 Top Safety Pick Plus designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, although it only qualified in Limited and Ultimate trims with optional headlights. The Santa Fe has standard forward collision warning and emergency braking, adaptive cruise control that works to a full stop, blind spot warning, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert and a system to monitor driver drowsiness.
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Things We Don’t
1. Passing Power
The 2019 Santa Fe is available with either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. While the turbo 2.0-liter makes more adequate power, both engines struggle to provide passing power, although Hanley found the transmission’s unwillingness to downshift as low as needed partly to blame, as well.
2. Gas Pedal Response
A twitchy gas pedal also makes driving the Santa Fe less enjoyable, as it can prevent smooth acceleration. While gradual response in the non-turbo engine takes some getting used to in Comfort mode, the pedal can be extremely sensitive in Sport mode. With the turbo engine, there’s some accelerator lag in either driving mode, and the same sort of sensitivity present in the 2.4-liter’s Sport mode is present in both of the turbo’s driving modes.
Hanley complained of a numb and isolating steering feel that can allow for challenging roads to overwhelm the Santa Fe. No, the steering feel of a mid-size SUV shouldn’t necessarily match that of a dedicated sports car; we just want a better feel for what the Santa Fe is doing.
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