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First drive: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe loads up on safety

KANANASKIS, Alta. — The 2019 Santa Fe is bigger, better, faster, stronger, safer and more fuel-efficient. Such improvement has become standard fare for Hyundai.

After several hundred kilometres at the wheel of two trim levels of the new fourth-generation Santa Fe, my driving partner and I could find little, actually nothing, to fault.

Built in Alabama, the new Santa Fe comes in Essential ($29,000), Preferred ($35,100), Ultimate ($41,900), and Luxury ($45,000) trim levels — designations that will henceforth be used throughout all Hyundai vehicles. The company expects the majority of customers to select the Preferred model.

Built on what Hyundai refers to as the SuperStructure platform, the 2019 Santa Fe is new from road to roof. It is 70 mm longer, 65-90 kilos lighter, 15 mm taller, 10 mm wider, and rides on a 65 mm longer wheelbase. As well as a stylish new look inside and out, it boasts a raft of new technologies and safety features.

Standard or available technologies include: heads-up display, heated front/rear seats, ventilated front seats with integrated memory, surround view monitor, rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights, panoramic sunroof, wireless device charging, rear window sunshades, hands-free smart liftgate, and side mirror approach lights

Hyundai executives here for the unveil of the new Santa Fe and restyled Elantra, said safety is rapidly moving up the list of “wants” for new vehicle buyers. Accordingly, it has equipped the new Santa Fe with a full array of them.

Standard or available safety features include: blind spot avoidance, surround view monitor, lane keep assist, forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, rear cross-traffic alert and avoidance, automatic high beams, park distance warning and adaptive cruise control.

The new stronger structure, combined with these active and passive safety features, should ensure the highest safety rating when the 2019 Santa Fe is subjected to NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) tests.

One unique new feature, standard on all trim levels, will be of interest to parents of youngsters. Safe Exit Assist prevents the rear doors from being opened when vehicles are approaching from the rear.

The system detects this motion, providing visible and audible warnings to the driver while activating the child locks on the rear doors.

The new Santa Fe also comes with a rear occupant alert, using pressure and motion detection to alert the driver if attempting to leave the vehicle with a child or pet in the rear.

The number of trim levels and packages make it impossible to describe which features are standard at each point of the price walk. Suffice it to say that in typical Hyundai fashion, the standard equipment list is extensive in relation to price.

For example, the least expensive model comes with the eight-speed automatic, power windows, locks and mirrors, a 17-cm colour touchscreen with Android Auto and Apply Car Play compatibility, tilt and telescope steering column, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

The Santa Fe also boasts five years of complimentary access to Hyundai’s BlueLink connected car system. This provides remote access, remote start with climate control, personalization and a number of other unique features through an app on your smartphone.

The 2019 Santa Fe comes in front- or all-wheel drive with a normally-aspirated, 185-horsepower, 2.4-litre or a 235-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines. Both are paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

All but the most basic models will come with a highly-sophisticated all-wheel-drive system that processes information from 50 sensors 100 times every second to calculate the amount of power going to individual wheels.

2019 Santa Fe
2019 Santa Fe

After some time in and on the road with the new Santa Fe, several things stood out:

  • This is a very quiet and refined vehicle.
  • This is a very quiet and refined vehicle.
  • This is a very quiet and refined vehicle.
  • The new turbocharged engine, eight-speed automatic and AWD system are delightfully programmed to work together.
  • The new suspension system is proof that whatever the company did to attract BMW’s top suspension engineer — paid off.
  • Hidden beneath a very spacious cargo area, are a number of sizable, partitioned storage spaces.

The 2019 Santa Fe replaces the current model in Hyundai’s crossover line alongside the Kona, Tucson and Santa Fe XL.

The latter will be replaced next spring by a new three-row vehicle on a different platform with a new name.

Hyundai plans six new or totally re-engineered utility vehicles for the Canadian market by 2020.

The specs

  • Model: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Luxury
  • Engine: turbocharged, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, 235 horsepower, 260 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel
  • Transmission: eight-speed automatic, AWDNRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 12.3 / 9.8
  • Length: 4,770 mm
  • Width: 1,890 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,765 mm
  • Weight: 1,790 kg
  • Price: $41,899 (luxury) as tested, plus freight
  • Competition: Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Edge, Honda CR-V, Nissan Murano, Subaru Outback, Toyota RAV-4
  • Options on test vehicle: none

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