Car Review: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate values luxury with its latest redesign

Hyundai has been making huge strides lately with value-packed small cars and sedans that have put other manufacturers on notice. Now Hyundai is getting serious with its five-seat crossover, remaking the Santa Fe.

Crossovers are all the rage and the new Hyundai Santa Fe is coming at the right time, especially the loaded $39,000 Ultimate 2.0T, which is a big step up in luxury for Hyundai.

The Hyundai Santa Fe comes in two power levels — one with about 189 horsepower or the optional, more powerful 2.0T engine with 235hp.

This larger engine only comes in pricier versions like the Ultimate trim level. It’s better at motivating this five seater. I had no problem keeping up with traffic with a punchy turbo engine and slick automatic transmission.

Fuel economy suffers with the more powerful engine. I managed just 22.5 mpg for my week of driving, but still beating the 21 mpg on the sticker.

The AWD system keeps you sure footed in wet conditions.

Not a big back road slayer, the Santa Fe is comfortable on long hauls or short commutes. The suspension gets a bit flustered on rougher roads, with bigger impacts being transmitted to the cabin at times.

The outside of the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate has a more expressive look. The last generation of Hyundai vehicles seem to go very conservative with styling, but the new versions are going back to more eye-catching designs.

Out front, the Santa Fe is more futuristic and modern. LED headlight clusters are slim and expressive and flow from the oversized grill. The oversized secondary light clusters are chunky and a little funky, but it really works well together.

Looking from the side, the Santa Fe reveals large 19-inch wheels that are a bit busy for some onlookers when I asked. No boring flat body here, cheat lines top and bottom add visual punch and hold your attention.

The Quartz White Pearl paint on the Hyundai looks sharp. There are just enough black lower body moldings and bright trim pieces to make the color pop.

The tail end isn’t as stylish as the rest, but a rooftop spoiler and taillights the wrap around toward the sides of the Santa Fe are more appealing than most crossovers today.

The leather covered, heated and ventilated seats are comfortable with plenty of power adjustments to get that perfect position.

Now that this 2019 Santa Fe is just a two-row crossover, the luggage space should please most buyers. Interior materials are upgraded with more soft touch and richer looking plastics, vinyl and leather.

The cabin has benefited from the use of more sound deadening and its road and wind noise has been greatly reduced from the previous Santa Fe.

Those in the back seat have good space and while two adults have no problem with space in the back, a third adult would wish for a bit more shoulder space.

The two-tone color scheme used throughout the interior adds a touch of class and the look of a pricey luxury brand.

The technology game is also updated for 2019. Wireless charging for all size phones is a bonus. The eight-inch touchscreen works the first time, plus knobs are still here for both volume and tuning. I’m not as crazy about the almost glued-on look of the large NAV screen on top of the dash, but it seems like others are doing it, so I should get used to it. No complaints about the premium sound system. It’s one of the better sounding in a Hyundai.

A large standard panoramic sunroof lets in a lot of light and air when open.

A few neat safety features include the Rear Seat Occupant warning, alerting you to check the back seat before you exit the driver’s seat. Another is the Safe Exit Assist, which refuses to open the door into oncoming traffic if detected, until the coast is clear.

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T is a game changer for Hyundai and those who compete against it. With more luxury, technology and that long powertrain warranty, the new Santa Fe is not just a value buy, but a good all-around vehicle that happens to still be competitively priced.


Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by DriveShop, FMI, NAVS DC or Motus One for the purpose of this review.

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