P ARK CITY, Utah – Believe it or not, we drive today in a 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T compact SUV. We slip and slide down a deserted highway somewhere near the Timber Lakes area of Beehive State.
Hyundai's Traction (HTRAC) four-wheel drive system corrects our wayward driving practices thanks to AWD clutch, controlled braking, and some fancy torque vectoring voodoo. Despite the help, the Santa Fe is a iota to driving and impressive for a small SUV.
It is raining and it is blazing in the distant mountains, where the large, half-shell-shaped hood of the Santa Fe stands. The Gray Color machine blends well into the large covered sky and the black on black interior suits our hearts.
The surrounding landscape is filled with birch and pine trees and there is a herd of sheep on the surrounding hills. It is super quiet in the cabin thanks to new sound padding, better insulation and drops of fancy adhesives. Out on the highway, they are easily ashamed of more expensive Lexus SUVs that I recently rode.
Actually, the cabin is so quiet that I do not hear a big white dog chasing next to us ̵
Under the bonnet of the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers 235 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. That's a lot of buoyancy to avoid a crazy dog, other commuters and other peculiar animals.
There is also a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 185 hp and 178 pound-foot of torque, but we have not tested our short run. Both engines feature Hyundai's new eight-speed automatic transmission, which excels at mountain and valley roads.
Our Ultimate Trim SUV weighs 3,591 pounds and is lighter than any of its competitors, including the new Chevrolet Blazer, Jeep Cherokee, Subaru Outback, Nissan Murano, Ford Edge and Kia Sorento
Santa Fe has an Idle Stop & Go technology that saves fuel on both engines as standard. Luckily you can disable it if you do, unlike the systems found in the Chevy Equinox and Traverse. There are three driving modes to choose from: Comfort, Sport and Smart Comfort mode feel springy on the road, Sport pulled the steering wheel, and I noticed no significant difference in Smart mode – but it could be my own fool's luck.
I have to come back to the 0-60 mph time of Santa Fe, but the rear-handed Smart Liftgate opens in a stunning 4.5 seconds. Trevor Lai, Product Planning Manager at Hyundai, promises us that he will not break his ankle during a presentation at the Stone Eriksen Lodge in the Deer Valley and open it from a distance.
Our five-passenger SUV features a panoramic roof, roof rails, LED headlights like the Kona, a thicker grille, heated side mirrors with turn signals, satin chrome door handles and rear rear turn signals are located far below the taillights.
Inside is a 7.0-inch LCD instrument cluster, which is a bit cramped, but still easy to read, and a nice little shelf above the glove box. It's perfect for holding a cell phone, bells and whistles and a pair of Ray-Bans.
The second-row seats fold flat 60/40 and provide 71.3 feet of cargo. With the seats up, there are 35.9 feet of volume behind the second row for your loot. Instead of a spare tire, there is a hidden compartment to keep valuables safe. Personally, I would rather have a reserve.
Hyundai SmartSense security features are standard on the Santa Fe and include: forward collision avoidance assistance with pedestrian detection, blind spot collision avoidance assistant, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic collision avoidance assistant, safe exit assistant, smart cruise control with stop-and-go and driver attention alert
safe -Exit Assist is a system that detects approaching vehicles from behind. The driver receives an audible warning with a pop-up in the instrument cluster and the rear doors remain locked. According to Hyundai, this prevents children or rear passengers from opening a door without first looking at it.
On the dashboard is an 8.0-inch navigation system equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Blue Link and an Infinity Premium stereo system with surround sound. Johnny Cash has heard Hank Snow's "I babe Everywhere" again and sounds great again.
There are five trims Choose between: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and our new favorite Ultimate. Sport was dropped because of lack of athleticism.
The base price starts at $ 26,480 for the 2.4-liter four-cylinder SE engine and extends up to $ 36,430 for the ultimate trim, plus $ 1,700 for AWD models. It is available in nine flavors and three color palettes. The new materials look and feel good, and they should do so at this price.
Not far from the city, we took the Santa Fe on a muddy, rocky slope similar to Bolivia, Costa Rica, Peru and New Jersey – and the Santa Fe played like a champion. Mind you, it's not a Trail Rated Jeep Cherokee replacement, but it does the job well. Be sure to rent one when you travel north or south of the border next summer.
The Santa Fe 2019 is assembled in Montgomery, Alabama along with the Elantra and Sonata sedans. Hyundai has sold more than 1.6 million Santa Fes since its launch nearly two decades ago. That's a lot of likes.
|2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T AWD Specifications|
|PRICE||$ 36,430 (Base) $ 39,905 (as tested)|
|ENGINE||2.0L DOHC 16 – Valve turbocharger inline four / 235 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 260 lb-ft @ 1,450-3,500; 2.4L DOHC 16-valve in-line four / 185hp @ 6,000rpm, 178 lb-ft @ 4,000rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front engine, AWD SUV|
|EPA KILOMETERS||19/24 mpg (city / hwy); 21/27 mpg (city / hwy)|
|L x W x H||187.8 x 74.4 x 67.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||9.5 seconds (est)|
|TIP TOP||110 mph (est)|