The Fourth Generation Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is bigger and safer than ever with a new design, new driver assistance systems and a standard suite of safety technologies. It’s also no longer going to be called the Santa Fe Sport, but will be simply the Santa Fe.

The current long wheelbase three-row, seven-passenger model called Santa Fe has been renamed Santa Fe XL for 2019. An all-new three-row, eight-passenger SUV from Hyundai is currently under development and will carry a new name.

It may seem a little confusing, but Hyundai North America CEO and President William Lee believes car buyers will be on board with the new Santa Fe lineup.

With big changes occurring every year, Lee said the auto industry is on the cusp of a revolution. “We have ambitious goals,” Lee said in announcing the changes to the Santa Fe.

Built in Alabama, the Santa Fe is Hyundai’s best-selling SUV with more than 1.6 million sold, Brandon Ramirez, senior group manager for Hyundai’s product public relations, told auto journalists gathered for the launch of the 2019 Santa Fe.

Hyundai employs more than 25,000 workers at its plants and design facilities in the United States. After struggling with questionable products in its early years on U.S. shores, the South Korean automaker has grown to be the No. 4 import brand here. That’s primarily thanks to Hyundai’s vastly improved lineup.

The Santa Fe gets two capable engines for 2019, a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that develops 185 horsepower and 178 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that cranks out 235 horses and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The naturally aspirated engine promises 22 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, while the turbo is rated at 20 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the road. The transmission is an 8-speed automatic. Three drive modes include comfort, smart and sport.

Safety testing on the 2019 Santa Fe isn’t yet complete, but safety features and technology abound. Hyundai vehicles today are some of the safest on the market, with eight 2018 models listed as either “Top Safety Picks” or “Top Safety Pick Plus” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

New features in the Santa Fe include a dynamite head’s-up display system and a blind spot monitor that not only monitors your blind spot, but bumps the steering wheel if you try to change lanes with another vehicle in your way.

An optional rear seat alert is a first in the industry, reminding the driver to check the rear seat for infants or pets when getting out. There are other such reminders on the market, but Hyundai takes it a step further. Motion detectors in the headliner monitor the rear seat, and if motion is detected after the driver exits, the horn will sound and text messages will be sent to the driver’s mobile phone. It’s a great idea that could prevent tragic accidents.

The 2019 Santa Fe comes in SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and the top end Ultimate trims. Leather cabins start with the Limited trim, so it could be the best-seller.

On the road, the Santa Fe has a smooth, comfortable ride and stays flat in the corners. Front wheel drive is standard and AWD is available on every trim. Steering is linear and precise, and braking excellent.

The AWD system could wind up being one of the best on the market. Hyundai says the system the monitors the exact speed of each wheel, and when any difference is detected that means a skid is imminent. Thus, the system can act to prevent a slide even before one occurs.

The 3,591-pound Santa Fe is the lightest SUV in its segment. It’s also wider and longer than the outgoing model. Headroom in the front seat is 40 inches, and in the rear seat its 39.2 inches. Legroom in back is 40.9 inches. Cargo space behind the second row is 35.9 cubic feet. Fold that row down and you’ve got 71.3 cubic feet.

Connectivity and infotainment features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Qi wireless phone charging, surround sound with speed sensitive volume control and Blue Link services like remote start with climate control, remote door lock/unlock, car finder, enhanced roadside assist and stolen vehicle recovery.

So, don’t be confused by the new naming; it’s still a Santa Fe. Your search for a new compact SUV shouldn’t be complete until you test drive one.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate


2.4-liter 4-cylinder


185/178 lb.-ft.


8-speed automatic


$35,450 plus freight

EPA mileage estimates:

22 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined

Estimated highway range:

545 miles