2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T Review

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T - Hyundai's new Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T becomes fully competitive

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Price: $37,100 with FWD.

Pros-Sporty look. Roomy. Comfortable. Upscale. Smooth ride. Good handling. Front- or All-wheel drive. Safety features.

Cons-Average handling around curves. Marginal rear visibility.

Bottom Line-Sporty styling, luxurious and practical.

Hyundai is squarely in a hot market with its redesigned 2019 Santa Fe for those wanting a sporty looking, upscale mid-size SUV.

The
redesigned Santa Fe Ultimate 2.0T, with its aggressive front end, lower
body cladding and bolder fenders may be just the ticket for those who
might otherwise need a roomy large sedan or an SUV such as the rival
Ford Edge, Nissan Murano or Subaru Outback.

One rather unusual
feature is the location of the slim, powerful headlights-under the large
running lights that look like headlights.

The solidly built
Santa Fe comes in various trim levels starting at $25,500 with
front-drive and a non-turbocharged engine and ending at $38,800 with a
turbocharged engine and AWD. Engines are a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with
185 horsepower and a turbo 2-liter four-cylinder with 235 horsepower and
considerably more torque. (260 foot-pounds versus 178 foot-pounds).
They come with front-drive or all-wheel drive. All have a new
eight-speed (up from six-speed) automatic transmission.

The
185-horsepower engine is just adequate because this Hyundai tops 4,000
pounds. And there's some brief off-the-line hesitation with the turbo
engine because of turbo lag. There's also momentary front-end "judder"
if a driver hits the gas pedal hard when starting off on wet roads.
However, acceleration is lively with the turbo four once it gets moving,
with good passing times on highways. The eight-speed automatic has an
easily used manual-shift feature that works smoothly and effectively
with either engine, although it sometimes got a bit confused during
certain maneuvers with the turbo engine.

A driver can push a
console button to select Normal, Smart or Sport driving modes. Normal is
best for regular driving, while Sport adjusts the steering effort and
engine and transmission control logic for enhanced driving performance.
Sport is best for quick rural driving, but hurts fuel economy a bit and
can be somewhat uncomfortable for urban drives.
 
Estimated fuel
economy ranges from 22 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on highways
with the base engine and front-drive to 19 and 24 with the turbo engine
and AWD. 
I tested the front-drive Santa Fe Ultimate with the 2.0T
engine, a combination that delivers an estimated 20 in the city and 25
on highways. Pop the hood and the compact turbo engine looks almost lost
in the nicely laid-out engine engine compartment.

My test Santa
FE was a great highway cruiser, with a very smooth ride, comfortable
driving position, extra-comfortable seats and an incredibly quiet
interior, despite being surrounded by a very noisy exterior.

The
steering is a bit heavy but it has nice feel and is accurate. The
brakes bite early with a linear acton, and the suspension has been
upgraded with such things as a faster steering ratio, stiffer torsion
bar and vertically oriented rear shock absorbers. The Santa Fe Ultimate
2.0T tracks nicely at high speeds with its 19-inch alloy wheels, but
it's no sports machine, exhibiting some sway when driven quickly through
expressway on-ramps.       

The Santa Fe is roomy. Unlike some
mid-size SUVs, it has especially good rear-seat space in comfortable
sliding and reclining rear seats, although the center of the back seat
is too hard for long-distance comfort and best left to the fold-down
armrest with cupholders. There's plenty of room for tall occupants, and
the Santa Fe's belt line has been lowered to prevent shorter occupants
from having a closed-in feel. The roofline gets the way of good rear
visibility, but large power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators
compensate.

The wide-opening doors have Satin Chrome handles and
large storage pockets. The backlit gauges can be easily read, and there
are clearly marked auxiliary manual dashboard controls for such things
as radio volume, temperature control, heated front seats and heated
leather-covered steering wheel.

The Ultimate has very
comfortable large front 8-way power seats, soft-touch surfaces and lots
of leather, although there's some hard but not cheap-looking plastic.
The infotainment system is easy to use, and the luxury loaded interior
has features including dual automatic temperature control, push-button
start, wireless device charging and a full-color heads-up display,
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, AM/FM/HD Infinity Premium Audio system
and a  panoramic sunroof.

There's plenty of storage areas. Even
the rear doors have large storage pockets.  The power hatch opens nicely
and reveals a large cargo area  (with a hidden shallow under-floor
area). Cargo room is 35.9 cubic feet versus 71.3 cubic feet with the
60/40 split rear seat backs folded forward. The larger seat back,
though, takes some muscle to flip forward.

Advanced safety
features include forward-collision assistance assist, blind-spot
collision avoidance assist, reverse camera, rear cross-traffic collision
avoidance assist. lane-keeping assist, smart cruise control with stop
& go, nifty surround view monitor, parking distance warning and a
rear occupant alert in case you accidentally leave, say, a kid or pet in
the back seat when you leave the Santa Fe.

Hyundais have a
strong reliability reputation and a seemingly mile-long warranty, so
that's just icing on the cake for the new Santa Fe.


Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

For more reviews from Dan, visit Facebook.