Bigger is better. At least that’s the takeaway with the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, the 2-row SUV replacement for the previous Santa Fe Sport. The new Santa Fe is larger and straddles the space between conventional compact crossovers and their larger midsize siblings.

The redesigned 2019 Santa Fe has sharp, contemporary styling, with chiseled good looks that owe more to traditional SUVs with a more upright greenhouse than the swoopy crossovers that were once the hot ticket. In addition to delivering an air of capability, the more rugged look of the Santa Fe also has the added benefit of easier access and better visibility thanks to the larger glass area.

Two powertrains offered

Lower trim models are equipped with a normally aspirated 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine making 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque good for EPA city/highway fuel economy of 22/29 mpg. The other choice is a 235-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rated at 260 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for those models is rated at 20/25 mpg city/highway. Both engines are mated to 8-speed automatic transmissions, which is a nice upgrade for a vehicle in its price and class.

Like the competition, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe can be equipped with either front- or all-wheel drive. Hyundai’s AWD system, called HTRAC, utilizes a center electronic coupling that predictively varies engine torque distribution fore and aft to enhance vehicle stability. It also has the added benefit of delivering torque from side-to-side to deliver it to the wheels with the most grip.

Driving the Santa Fe

The 2019 Santa Fe’s driving experience is best described at highly competent. The electric power steering has good road feel, power from the base 2.4-liter engine is more than adequate, though the 2.0-liter turbo is superior to others in its class. The star here is the 8-speed automatic transmission that provides smooth, seamless shifts and the gas stop/start system is fairly unobtrusive.

But what sets the Santa Fe apart is the smooth ride and quiet cabin. Hyundai uses sound deadening that includes laminated side glass that keeps outside noises outside. Even the lane keeping assist program has three levels of intervention, including off, to make driving the Santa Fe less distracting.

Cabin comfort

The redesigned 2019 Santa Fe can also be recommended for its high level of cabin comfort. Hyundai has made tremendous strides in the quality and content of its interiors. There still are traces of hard plastic, found primarily on the lower reaches of the door panels and console, but for the most part there’s ample use of soft touch materials, controls are logically placed within easy reach and Hyundai’s use of touchscreen technology and conventional make operation of vehicle systems intuitive. 

Also adding to over user friendliness is the basic roominess of the package (particularly rear legroom) and seats that have additional foam padding in critical areas for support and comfort. In short, Hyundai has outfitted the Santa Fe with materials and features that are usually found on class above vehicles.

Safety first

Families looking for safety features will be pleased to discover that the Santa Fe offers a high level of standard features. Chief among them is SmartSense, which includes forward collision assist with pedestrian protection, blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross traffic alert, lane keeping assist and smart cruise control with a stop and go capability. The best feature for keeping kids safe is a system that will lock the doors to prevent people exiting the car if traffic coming up from behind is sensed.

While most models come with a long list of standard features, there are plenty of optional items you may want to consider including a huge panoramic sunroof, hands-free power rear liftgate, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a head-up display, an 8-inch upgrade over the standard 7-inch center touchscreen and a 12-speaker, 630-watt Infinity sound system.

Pricing, 5-year Cost to Own

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is offered in seven trim levels, starting with the entry-level SE starting at $25,550. Other models that come with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder include the SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and Ultimate packages, the latter priced from $35,450. The two 2.0-liter turbo models come in a Limited 2.0T and Ultimate 2.0T trim, with the top line version starting at $37,100. Prices exclude $1,045 delivery.

KBB’s 5-year Cost to Own calculation for the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe comes to 52 cents per mile including $14,204 depreciation over the five years. That's good enough to put the SUV at the top of its segment in the KBB 2019 Cost-to-Own Awards.

As Hyundai continues to update its products with contemporary styling and high levels of content, we expect resale values to be on an upswing. If a compact SUV that offers room and features closer to that of a midsize model appeals to you, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe would be a solid addition to your shopping list.

More 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

Build and price your own 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe to see this week's Fair Purchase Price, 5-year Cost to Own and more, or check out the Santa Fe models for sale today at dealers near you.

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