P ARK CITY, Utah – Believe it or not, today we are running a 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T compact SUV. We glide and slide down a deserted country road somewhere near the Timber Lakes area in the Beehive state.
Thanks to the AWD clutch, steering braking and some nice torque voodoo, the Hyundai Traction (HTRAC) All Wheel Drive system corrects our weird driving antics. Despite the help, Santa Fe is a race to drive and impress for a small SUV.
It rains and it blinks in the distant mountains where Santa Fe's big clamshell-shaped hood points. The gray paint of the machine blends well with the big cloudy sky and the black on black interior matches our hearts.
The surrounding landscape is filled with birch and pine trees, and there is a flock of sheep on the surrounding hills. It's super quiet in the cabin thanks to new sound padding, better insulation materials and gobs of fancy glue. Out on the highway, it easily blames some expensive Lexus SUVs I have recently driven.
In fact, the cabin is so quiet I can not hear a big white bark dog hunting alongside us ̵
Underneath the hood is the 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivering 235 horsepower and 260 pounds of torque. There is plenty of boost to avoid a mad dog, other commuters and other colorful critics.
There is also a 2.4-liter four-cylinder available with 185 horsepower and 178 pound-meter torque, but we do not test it during our short run. Both engines are equipped with Hyundai's new eight-speed automatic transmission, performed admirably on mountain and valley roads.
Our Ultimate Trim SUV weighs 3,591 pounds and is lighter than all its competitors including the new Chevrolet Blazer, Jeep Cherokee, Subaru
Santa Fe has Idle Stop & Go technology that is standard on both engines to save fuel . Fortunately, you can disable it if you choose to do so, unlike the systems found in Chevy Equinox and Traverse. There are three driving modes to choose from: Comfort, Sport and Smart Comfort mode felt bouncy on the road, Sport tightened the steering wheel, and I did not notice any significant difference in smart mode – but it may be my own stupid happiness.
I have to get back to you at Santa Fes 0-60 mph time, but the rear hands-free Smart Liftgate opens in blowing 4.5 seconds. Trevor Lai, Hyundai Product Planning Manager, promises us that it will not break an ankle while opening it externally during a presentation at Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley.
Our five-passenger SUV has a panoramic roof, roof rails, sliding LED front lights like Kona, a buffalo lattice, heated side mirrors with swing signals, Satin Chrome door handles, and around the backside the rear turn signals are located under the tail lights.
Inside, there is a 7.0 "LCD instrument cluster that is a bit cramped but still easy to read and a pretty little shelf over the glove. It's perfect for holding a cell phone, knickknacks and a couple of Ray-Bans.
The other row seats fold flat 60/40 and offer 71.3 foot cargo volume. With the seats up, it's 35.9 feet volume behind the second line of your lap. Instead of an additional deck, there is a hidden area to keep valuables safe. Personally, I would rather have an option.
Hyundai SmartSense security features are standard at Santa Fe, and include: forward collision-avoids pedestrian disaster relief, blind spot collision failure assistance, track control, rear traffic collision failure, safe exit assistance, smart cruise control with stop and go, and driver alert alert.
Safe Termination Assistance is a system that detects rear-view vehicles. The driver receives an acoustic warning with a pop-up in the measurement cluster and the rear doors remain locked. Hyundai says that this prevents children or back passengers from opening a door without seeing first.
On the device there is an 8.0-inch navigation system that is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay friendly, Blue Link and an Infinity Premium stereo system with surround sound. Listen to Johnny Cash Cover Hank Snows "I've Been Everywhere" again and again it sounds good at it too.
There are five trimmer to choose from: SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, and our new favorite Ultimate. Sport has been dropped due to lack of sportsmanhood.
The base price starts at $ 26,480 for the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine SE trimmer and goes up to $ 36,430 for the top of the Ultimate trim plus $ 1700 for AWD models. It is available in nine exterior flavors and three interior color palettes. The new materials look good and they should at this price.
Not far out of town, we took Santa Fe up a muddy rock infested slope similar to roads I have driven in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Peru and New Jersey – and Santa Fe acted as a champion.
Imagine there is no Trail Rated Jeep Cherokee replacement, but it will be done easily. Be sure to rent one when traveling north or south of the border next summer.
2019 Santa Fe is assembled in Montgomery, Alabama along with Elantra and Sonata sedans. Hyundai has sold more than 1.6 million Santa Fes since it was introduced almost two decades ago. Now there are many likes.