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Car Review: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe



It’s about time that the Hyundai Santa Fe had an overhaul. The fourth generation Santa Fe will bring the brand well on it’s way to relaunching the entire SUV lineup. The Kia Sportage has just had a minor revamp from it’s earlier model, this earlier model was already using a more modern platform than the current Santa Fe, putting Hyundai two iterations behind. As a bit of background, Hyundai Motor Group was established in 1998 when Hyundai purchased 51% of Kia’s shares in 1998, their holdings have since decreased, but Hyundai Motor Group is still the minority owner of Kia. So, for a while the companies have been sharing model platforms. When Kia started revamping their lineup a on new platform, the industry knew that Hyundai was to follow.

The Santa Fe will be replacing the five-seater Santa Fe Sport, and there will be a longer seven-seater called the Santa Fe XL which will be replacing the Santa Fe. The new Santa Fe will come in three variants, called the ‘Active’, ‘Elite’, and ‘Highlander’. In the range we have a choice of petrol and diesel, six and eight speed auto trans, and all wheel drive across all the models.


Where we see the biggest changes is at the front. Like the Hyundai Kona, it features split lights, with the LED daytime running lights positioned separately above the LED headlights. We have the brands distinctive new-look cascading grill, and 41% more glass to help attract consumers who are looking to move from a sedan up to a SUV. Overall the new Santa Fe looks larger, angular, taller and more SUV-like than the previous more streamlined version. If there was a slider scale for sedan and SUV, Hyundai has bumped the bar a good knock towards SUV on this popular cross-over. We love this change, what we can see in the market is that the demand for SUV’s is not slowing down, it’s increasing.



The interior has had a bit of a revamp incorporating design elements from the branded look of the Hyundai cascading grill. There’s a still a lot of plastic in the interior that takes away from the lux look, but it fits the price point for a Hyundai. It comes with a nice 7 to 8 inch touch-screen display (size depending on model) to control the usual features and functions. As far an in-car entertainment, it’s a good system. Though it’s been a complaint of ours that car manufacturers so far have just not got in-car systems right, at all. They are clunky, buggy and no where near an intuitive as they should be.  We are waiting for the manufacturer who takes the leap and builds a in car display with software focused on the user experience – and when it happens we will should their name from the rooftops. As for the Santa Fe, it’s good, better than most, those some reviewers have nit-picked on the font choice.

The interior of Santa Fe is a bit more spacious than its Sport predecessor, in front seat headroom, and in both rear seat leg and headroom. It’s a welcome addition, as the cross-over shifts towards being a bit more SUV, a more spacious interior is a win. Otherwise the interior hits expectations and fits the price-point perfectly.


Specs and Performance

We have two clear choices of drive drains in the entry level model, step up to Elite and Highlander and the drive-train locks into diesel only. The entry level option, Active, features a choice between a 2.4 litre petrol 6 speed trans or you can jump up to the 2.2 litre turbo charged diesel 8 speed trans that is standard across the Elite and Highlander variants. What about a V6? There is no news on an Australian release.

Hyundai has been putting a lot of effort into tweaking drive performance, the brand spends of $1m each year doing ride and handling tuning on all the cars coming into Australia. The base model performs well, but, the real measure of performance is when you jump up to the diesel with the new 8 speed gear box. It provides a large amount of torque for that ‘oomfph’ feeling, and corners well. This is a car that can handle rough country roads, suburban potholes & speed bumps, as well as the stop-start traffic of a city commute.

What we are impressed with is the safety features. Hyundai has a track record of high performance in ANCAP safety testing, with the vast majority of models tested after 2012 hitting a five star rating. The recently released Kona was also a high performer, and those safety features are in the Santa Fe. Hyundai SmartSense is a safety feature of note, and it’s standard on all models. Also a personal favorite, a rear view camera with dynamic guidelines is also available across all variants as standard – perfect for inner city parking!



Prices are set to start at $43,000 before on roads, with the priciest models exceeding $60,000. This is a good price for the market segment they are after, affordable but not the cheapest.


It’s a winner. It’s looks great. The performance is solid. The price is solid. The safety features are superb. Hyundai has a great ANCAP history. Overall when it comes to the three main criteria performance/price/safety – this is a car that we feel comfortable recommending.









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