Fleet managers looking for a safety-oriented compact SUV should consider Hyundai's 2019 Santa Fe, which enters its fourth generation with an array of driver-assisting and safety features as standard equipment even on the base model. Company executives say they'd like to increase sales of their vehicles to commercial fleets, and the company appears poised to do so.
Hyundai has dropped the "sport" verbiage for its five-passenger model. The earlier smaller Santa Fe Sport goes away and the former three-row Santa Fe midsize SUV becomes the Santa Fe XL. Hyundai is developing a new three-row utility potentially for 2020 with a new name that would carry up to eight passengers.
Automotive Fleet joined other journalists in Park City, Utah, to drive the new vehicle at higher elevation on twisty Wasatch mountain roads, as well as several dirt-and-gravel roads and a short, steep-climbing dirt track.
Santa Fe Puts Safety First
The Santa Fe is adding eight standard safety features that are now packaged as SmartSense and include forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian detection; blind-spot assist; lane keeping assist; rear cross-traffic assist; safe exit assist; high beam assist; smart cruise control with stop and go; and driver attention warning.
The automatic emergency braking system has been improved for 2019 from the version Hyundai offered on higher trims of the 2018 three-row model. Additional sensors have improved the stopping distances, Hyundai product specialists said.
We tested the vehicle's lane keeping assist system, which gives the driver four intervention options from off up to the vehicle using steering-wheel correction. Level two that provides a visual indicator when the vehicle veers toward the marker and unobtrusive chirps works well to inform rather than annoy.
Transmission, All-Wheel Drive Upgraded
A new eight-speed transmission replaces a six-speed gearbox for the carryover engines that include a 2.0-liter turbocharged GDI four-cylinder as well as the 2.4-liter GDI four-cylinder engine. At some point, Hyundai has said it will introduce a 2.2-liter turbodiesel that has seen extensive testing in South Korea.
On earlier Santa Fe SUVs, all-wheel drive has been badged as "AWD." The new model adds the Htrac branding for the improved system with torque vectoring that's available as a $1,700 add-on for any trim grade. Hyundai is streamlining ordering for its Santa Fe by adding options into the five trims rather than selling them separately. Trims include the SE base model, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, and Ultimate. The turbo engine is available on Limited and Ultimate.
Pricing has been set at $26,480 for the SE, which includes a $980 delivery charge.
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Specs:
- Engines: 2.0L turbo inline-four (235 hp, 260 lb.-ft.) or 2.4L inline-four (185 hp, 178 lb.-ft.)
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- All-wheel drive: Optional Htrac
- Cargo space: 71.5 cu.-ft. and 36 cu.-ft. with second row seating
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