5 things to know about the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

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2019 Hyundai Santa Fe (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

For the 2019 model year, the Hyundai Santa Fe gets a redesign. In addition to a bolder and more upright stance, the midsize SUV gets new interior materials, a quieter ride and a lot of standard safety technology.

We really enjoyed our brief time with the 2019 Santa Fe, and if you want a more detailed look at what’s new, be sure to check out our First Look review. But in the meantime, here are five things you should now about the all-new SUV.

Hyundai SmartSense is standard

This is huge. In a previous safety push with the Sonata, Hyundai was proud of having standard blind spot monitoring. But, frankly, I didn’t think this was enough – especially with Toyota’s push to include autonomous emergency braking as standard fare in its most basic models.

SmartSense includes forward collision avoidance, blind spot collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic avoidance, driver attention warning, high beam assist and safe exit assist. Where you see the word “avoidance,” expect some kind of automatic steering or braking assist to keep you from hitting another vehicle or a pedestrian.

One of the more interesting items included on this standard list of features is the safe exit assist. When child locks are engaged, it won’t let the driver disengage them if it detects another vehicle approaching on either side of the Santa Fe. When child locks are not engaged, it will issue an alert to help prevent a door being opened into traffic when another vehicle is approaching.

Santa Fe offers more than a rear-seat reminder

So far in 2018, 48 kids have died of heatstroke by being left unattended in a hot vehicle. Several automakers have started to a rear-seat reminder, which shows a visible alert on the behind-the-wheel gauges to remind a driver to check the back seat before leaving the vehicle.

However, over time, one might get used to this alert and overlook it. To combat this, Hyundai takes the rear-seat reminder one step further: It adds motion sensors to the interior of the vehicle, and if it detects movement in the back seat, the horn will start honking. If this is ignored, the vehicle will proceed to send a text message and email to the owner.

There are no packages

One of the best things about Hyundai is that it includes a lot of up-level features for a reasonable amount of money. Unlike some of the European automakers where everything is an option, Hyundai seeks to simplify its pricing structure.

So, instead of having package options, Hyundai simply includes more content as you level up through the trims. The only options available are all-wheel drive ($1,700 and the up-level 2.0L engine ($1,600 Limited, $1,650 Ultimate).

The 2.0L engine is only available on the Limited & Ultimate

The base engine for the 2019 Santa Fe is a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine, which is perfectly fine. It delivers 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. I found that it was fine for city driving, but it struggled in hard acceleration and steep upward climbs. It’s also a bit loud.

The good news is if you want a little extra power, there is an available up-level 2.0-liter, which delivers 235 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The bad news is it’s only available on the top-two trims, so the starting price for a vehicle with this engine will be $34,200.

Yes, this is $9K more than the base price, but I think it’s worth it. In addition to the extra power, you’ll add features such as heated front seats, push-button start, proximity key, leather seats, premium audio and the smart hands-free liftgate.

The 2019 Santa Fe XL is really the 2018 Santa Fe

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is a two-row vehicle, and the vehicle formerly known as the Santa Fe Sport ceases to exist. OK. Got it.

But to make things a tad confusing, the three-row vehicle formerly known as Santa Fe returns for the 2019 model year as the Santa Fe XL. It does not receive a refresh or redesign; it is basically a carryover from the 2018 model year with only a name change.

The confusion will only last for one model year, however, as this awkward transition is paving the way for an all-new, as-yet-unannounced three-row vehicle that will not belong to the Santa Fe family.

The Bottom Line:

The redesigned 2019 Santa Fe is a really nice vehicle. From the interior materials to the ride and handling, Hyundai has done a great job with this vehicle. I really like the bolder styling, and the interior is both attractive and functional.

Plus, with the addition of Hyundai’s standard SmartSense, the Santa Fe makes a lot of sense as a family hauler. So, if you’re also looking at vehicles such as the Ford Edge, Subaru Outback, Jeep Cherokee, Kia Sorento and Nissan Murano, you should probably stop by the Hyundai dealer, too.

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is now on sale.