Hyundai Santa Fe: Comforting in a monotonous world
It seems unfair, but it’s true: weekends fly, and weekdays walk. For the most part, life is a day-to-day drill of monotony punctuated by a few moments of pleasure. This explains why comfort and convenience, not high horsepower thrills, is what most motorists prefer — especially those with families.
With that in mind, if you’re contemplating a new family sled, consider the new 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, a redesigned two-row crossover formerly known as the Santa Fe Sport. (The former three-row Santa Fe is renamed the Santa Fe XL for 2019.)
Offered in ascending SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited and Ultimate trim levels, each Santa Fe with an increasing number of standard convenience features and few options.
The new model’s styling trades the previous version’s soft shapes for a more broad-shouldered, masculine appearance, more reminiscent of an SUV.
The Santa Fe’s overall footprint remains much like last year’s Santa Fe Sport. All passengers enjoy chair high seats and good headroom, although the Santa Fe’s roofline slopes down noticeably to meet the top of the windshield, lending the front row a more claustrophobic feel for taller passengers. Cargo room is generous, and there’s a large under-floor space with a removable Styrofoam divider.
Ambience depends on trim level. Less expensive models feature attractively patterned cloth seats, while more expensive models feature leather trim and a more expressive headliner. The instrument panel features soft touch surfaces and stitched accents, although the door panels use hard, cheap plastics.
The Santa Fe comes standard with front-wheel drive and a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter double overhead-cam four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. A 235-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder is optional on Limited or Ultimate models. All-wheel drive is optional. Base prices range from $25,500 to $38,800.
Most drivers will likely choose the 2.4-liter engine, which has adequate power if you live in a place where the only hills are landfills. Once facing an incline, this engine gets easily winded. This makes the optional 2.0-liter four the ideal choice, providing enough power in any situation, especially when the vehicle is loaded with passengers and gear.
The cabin is astonishingly quiet with either engine, although the base engine does emit a continual hum, due to the need for the engine to keep the revs up.
Handling is compliant and agile, although it’s not sporty. Only the worst off-road bumps break through this car’s comfort barrier.
Given what most of us face on a daily basis, the Santa Fe proves to be is a spacious crossover with an amazing amount of cargo space. It’s an able assistant who is seen, not heard; a comforting, capable, compelling presence in a monotonous world.