The familiar Santa Fe model grades of Active, Elite and Highlander remain, with HTRAC standard on all, as is Android Auto and Apple Car Play compatibility. A high level of active safety technologies is standard across the board, too, while a welcome feature is a full-size spare wheel for all grades.
Power and Spec. The Active is only MY19 Santa Fe offered with a choice of the 2.4-litre Theta II four-cylinder petrol engine or the 2.2-litre R series four-cylinder turbo diesel. The petrol four produces 138kW and 241Nm, with listed combined fuel economy of 9.3lt/100km. Outputs from the diesel are 147kW and 440Nm, with economy of 7.5lt/100km.
A 6-speed automatic transmission is paired with the petrol four, while an 8-speed auto is matched to the diesel.
Step up from the Active to either the Elite or Highlander and only the 2.2 turbo-diesel and 8-speed are available.
The entry-level Santa Fe Active gets 17-inch alloys, cloth seats, single-zone climate control air con and a 7.0-inch infotainment screen. The Elite adds 18-inch alloys, keyless entry, a power tailgate, leather seats (with heated fronts), a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen, factory sat nav and dual-zone air, amongst other features.
The premium Highlander takes the Elite spec and adds 19-inch alloys and a panoramic sunroof, with other upgrades including heating/ventilation on the front seats, wireless phone charging, a head-up display and LED interior lighting.
Introducing HTRAC. The new HTRAC system is the on-demand type and distributes drive between the driven front axle and rear axle based on vehicle speed, in combination with the selectable drive modes – ‘Eco’, ‘Comfort’ and ‘Sport’.
In Eco mode, the bulk of the torque goes to the driven front axle for improved fuel economy. In Comfort mode, 35 per cent of available torque goes to the back axle, increasing to 50 per cent in Sport mode to improve acceleration and sharpen cornering ability.
Beyond torque and accelerative performance, each mode also adjusts transmission response and steering feedback to suit.
A fourth ‘Smart’ mode “reads” your driving style and optimises engine, transmission and steering settings, combining elements from each of the other three modes as required. While HTRAC will handle muddy trails, gravel roads and light duty off-road work comfortably, its limits will be tested on tougher trails.
New Look. Compared to the third-gen Santa Fe, a distinctive front-end treatment is the major stylistic change on the new version.
At first glance, Hyundai looks to have adopted the industry-wide trend of headlights being reduced to the size of letterbox openings. However, those “headlights” are the DRLs. The actual headlights reside in the oversized lower openings: part of a treatment that’s coming to define Hyundai’s SUV family.
The grille is noticeably different, too, featuring two different fill patterns for the upper and lower openings, as well as a broad chrome upper strip.
In profile, styling is more conventional, with large wheelarch openings and abundant black plastic trim, but chrome framing of the glass area continues the theme started on the front, while Elite and Highlander grades add more chrome to the sills and door handles.
That treatment extends to the rear, too, with chrome strips on the lower edge of the reversing lights and between the tail lights. Those tail lights (LEDs in the Highlander) wrap around the rear corners and almost reach to the leading edge of the D-pillar.
More Space. Improvements in the packaging has increased space for second and third-row seat occupants, with a lower rear floor area, improved third-row access and headroom and more glass area at the third-row level. Standard luggage space is 130 litres with all seats occupied, 547 litres with the third-row folded and 1625 litres with both second and third rows folded.
Now available, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe is priced from $43,000 for the Active petrol with the diesel adding $3,000. The Elite starts at $54,000, while the Highlander is a pricey (for a Hyundai) $60,500 (all pricing excludes ORCs). A 5-year unlimited km warranty is standard, with complimentary Roadside Assist for the first 12 months.