Thursday, September 6, 2018

First Drive: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 2WD


Hyundai is ambitious to say the least. Instead of going against the plebian Pick-up based Passenger Vehicle or PPV market as they did before, the 2019 Santa Fe is aiming squarely for the mid-sized luxury SUV crowd. It’s a move that may seem mad, but considering that there are far less competitors in this segment, the added breathing room has given Hyundai the chance to create an SUV that can wow the world. It’s a chance they haven’t squandered, giving birth to the fourth-generation Santa Fe; an SUV that successfully shifts the balance of power squarely in favor of Hyundai.

Styling may be subjective, but there’s no doubt that it gives the Santa Fe far more credence. The front and rear ends are far more upright, lending an unmistakably strong, tall stance. The fascia, with its chainmail-patterned grille and slim lighting units (they’re daytime running lights) make it look sinewy and menacing. The LED headlights (with active bending function) and signal lights have been split, pushed lower towards the bottom edge of the grille; something Hyundai opted to repeat at the back with the brake lights on top, and the signal lights and reverse lights at the bottom.




Dimensionally, the 2019 Santa Fe is longer, wider, and taller than its predecessor. Crucially, the wheelbase is longer by 66 millimeters, giving it more interior room than ever. Hyundai says passenger volume is up 3 percent, and while that may seem like a miniscule number on paper; in practice, they’ve certainly put all that percentage to good use. In particular, the third-row seat isn’t just habitable, but genuinely comfortable. Of course, in order to get that added headroom, something’s got to give. In this case, there are no ceiling-mounted air vents here. Instead, cool air’s blown through outlets located at the center console for the second row and side panels for the third row.

Inside, the Santa Fe impresses with its dash design. The horizontal layout, coupled with the nicely sculpted surfaces offer an airy, luxurious feel. Worthy of praise is Hyundai’s decision to fit a two-tone black and brown leather for the Philippine-spec model. Not only does it successfully cut the boredom associated with an all-black scheme, but it does so with class. It also serves to highlight the plush plastics and nicely-damped switchgear. There’s an obsessive level of detail here as well as even the mundane headliner is now covered in a suede-like finish. Still, given how much attention Hyundai’s poured to getting the cabin right, there are still some odd smattering of budget-minded plastics, particularly on the door panels.




Typically chastised for their stingy equipment, Hyundai has finally gotten the Santa Fe right straight out of the box this time. Aside from the leather seats with power adjustment and cooling function for the first row, it’s got a heads-up display, dual-zone climate control, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that incorporates both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Qi wireless charger, rain-sensing wipers, power tailgate, 6 SRS airbags, stability control, front and rear proximity sensors, and even a 360-degree camera.

In terms of drivetrain, the fourth-generation Santa Fe comes in just one variant: a front-wheel drive model equipped with Hyundai’s venerable 2.2-liter R CRDi e-VGT engine. With 200 horsepower and 442 Nm of torque on tap, it’s by no means short on power. Whenever the tachometer reaches 2,000 rpm, the surge comes in, and comes in strong. There’s certainly a lot of usable power, and this is quite beneficial especially when overtaking on tight, twisty mountain roads. More than just raw power though, what’s even more surprising is the drivetrain’s high level of refinement. There’s still a hint of diesel clatter at higher revs, but even then, it’s smooth enough to pass the ear of even the pickiest passenger.




New for 2019 is the 8-speed automatic. Enthusiasts may decry the lack of paddle shifters, but they’re unneeded here. Offering quick, transparent shifts, it prefers to work seamlessly in the background, letting the engine do all the talking. Yet, the wider spread of gears makes itself known at the fuel pump: 13.2 km/L despite a hard days’ worth of driving.

On the road, the Santa Fe is an assuring drive because of its stability and surefootedness. Hyundai’s changeable driving modes is still here, but aside from just tweaking the steering effort (ala Flex Steer), this one remaps the throttle and transmission response. Whatever the mode though, it doesn’t go full-blown sporty; preferring instead for a package that simply works. Keeping things in “Comfort” or “Smart” modes, it obliges with its precise, nicely-weighted steering and controlled movements. What’s more, the ride is extremely comfortable, and the cabin remarkably quiet. Well, except for some minor rattles at the back after some off-road excursions.




Some Santa Fe buyers may be put off by its P 2.338-million re-positioning, yet, it can’t be faulted for what it’s achieved especially after a day behind the wheel. Not only has the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe managed to combine a memorable-looking exterior package with a well-finished and nicely-appointed interior, but it’s done so with a convincing powertrain and suspension package. As such, it’s managed to shake off its confused identity by embracing a truly premium mindset. In doing so, it not only manages to fire a shot across the bow of its main competitors, the Mazda CX-9 and Ford Explorer, but it’s managed to score a direct hit.


17 comments:

  1. Why would some people be put off by the positioning of the price? It undercuts the Explorer, CX-9, and horrendously overpriced Pilot, and its features destroys the Sorento in every way (Safety, cameras - the Sorento doesn't even have an infotainment - LED lights, power seats, etc), and is waaaay better in terms of comfort and power compared to diesel-fed ladder-frame SUVs.

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    1. The current gen Kia Sorento is not a fair comparison, as had competed with the previous gen Santa Fe. Historically, a new Sorento is released a year or two later than its cousin, Santa Fe. And yes they share the same platform.

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    2. Did the comparison because it's still available here for the same price as the Sta Fe (At least the TotL AWD is). Actually, the current gen Explorer can be argued as an unfair comparison as well since a new one might soon be seen.

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    3. The Sorento has AWD and is 5 years older. Its not even a fair comparison, Sorento wins hands down for the same price (not to mention you can get discounts since its an older model)

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  2. They should offer all-wheel drive variant. Never mind the price, it wont be a volume seller anyway. Because, how can you even claim that you have a premium SUV when can't have 4 wheels turning?
    Another compromise made by Hyundai Philippines, tsk tsk.

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    1. 4 wheels turning is 4 wheel steering.
      all wheel drive is totally different.

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  3. For a Korean car the price is too high thats why the previous sta fe did not make very well in the market

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    1. For the people who knows how good this car is, price doesn't matter. The problem with the previous models is that, HARI stripped down the standard features of the car and yet sold it in its SRP. But this new model with its standard features intact, it actually justifies its price.

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  4. They should come out with a model just like the downpriced 4x2 sorento. There is a small market for 2.3m suvs but 1.8m is just right

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    1. That Sorento is waaay too stripped down, though. Add at least 4 more airbags, a decent infotainment system with a least a backup camera (even if its competitors have 360 already), and at least an option for leather, then it's a great vehicle.

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  5. Sometimes you have to own one to know one. Got a Gen2 Sta. Fe and I could hardly convince myself to even consider the new ladder-framed SUVs (if given the chance).😊

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  6. i think it comes with a Manu-matic (there's a +/- sign beside the D

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    1. oh the writer was referring to paddle shifters.

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  7. If you want full specs... forget hari, go for gray market... Pitstop in Quezon ave. Or Hancars

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    1. What's the difference if I get a Hyundai from Pitstop than the regular Hyundai dealership? Will I be able to get a Tucson with Sunroof at Pitstop?

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  8. I reckon that a/c will be an issue in the long run, which I think is usual for Korean cars.

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