I’ll freely admit that I sometimes get vehicle names confused. Covering the automotive industry, that’s not a good thing to admit. I know I’m in the minority with this opinion, but I like the car companies that use numbers and letters as their vehicle names. For me, it’s easy to understand that a Mazda CX-5 is bigger than the CX-3. This week, I’m driving the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, which comes in both five and seven passenger capacity to further confuse me. I will have to re-read this review a couple times to make sure I don’t call my tester the Tucson (which is the compact SUV version). They’re all named after southwestern cities. Are you confused yet?

Further confounding things further is the change for 2019 model year. The previous two-row Santa Fe Sport drops the Sport name while the third-row Santa Fe gets the name XL with it. Clear as mud? My tester this week is the five-passenger, two-row Santa Fe. Shew! I’ve already gone off the rails here, let’s get back on track and talk about this mid-size SUV as it has many nice things to discuss.

EXTERIOR

For 2019 the Santa Fe has all-new looks with a more modern appearance. The squinty horizontal LED head lights sit atop the honey-comb like grille. Hood indentations are a bold and attractive aesthetic. The C-pillar is more upright and gives a higher stance to this SUV. As such, the back end has more of a true SUV appearance. The rear spoiler offers a hint of the old Santa Fe “Sport” look.

PERFORMANCE

The Santa Fe, past or present, has not been known as an enthusiast’s vehicle. The performance has always been adequate. There is nothing to this model year that changes that opinion either. The base engine, which is what was in my tester, is a 2.4-liter, 185-horsepower 4-cylinder ho hum performer. It serves its purpose of getting this vehicle around, but off the line it lacks the oomph and even with the well-done 8-speed transmission, there’s little excitement behind the wheel of the Santa Fe. There’s an optional turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes for 235 horses that seems to be a little more exciting. Likewise, the newly named XL Santa Fe has a 3.3-liter V6. Both engines seem more inspiring than the base one.

INTERIOR

Hyundai has always excelled at making a quality, comfortable interior. Hyundai helped improve their market share with such nice interiors. With the 2019 Santa Fe, they continue this trend with the use of high-quality materials and a spacious cabin. My tester was the Ultimate trim which had heated front and rear seats and cooled front seats. Legroom was fantastic for three adults and with the new exterior design and the upright C-Pillar, headroom is ample. There is 35.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row and a combined 71.3 cubic feet with the seats folded. The Hyundai infotainment system is better than most in the segment with an intuitive system on an 8-inch color screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make interaction with smart phones easy.

TRIMS/PRICING

There are four trims for the five-passenger Santa Fe. My tester was the top-of-the-line Ultimate. This trim has advanced safety features like collision avoidance, lane assist, smart cruise control and parking assistance. The panoramic sunroof makes the interior feel even more spacious. My tester, the Ultimate 2.4 with all-wheel drive had an MSRP of $38,255. The base trim SE with front-wheel drive has a starting price of under $25,000.

FUEL ECONOMY

The Santa Fe has a curb weight of just over 4,000 pounds and has an EPA rating of 21 mpg/city and 27 mpg/highway. The FWD version gets slightly better fuel economy. In a week’s worth of driving, I averaged almost 24 mpg on snow-covered, slick roads. The Santa Fe handled itself well in these less-than-ideal driving conditions.

Hyundai continues to offer a product line that offers something for everyone. They’ve even split the midsize Santa Fe into two different offerings based upon the number of passengers. With the new style and a well-planned interior, Hyundai shows they’re in tune with the American consumer with the 2019 Santa Fe.

SPECS

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate

Price/As tested price……………………. $38,255/$38,255

Mileage…………………………………… 21 mpg/city; 27 mpg/hwy

Engine……………………………………… 2.4-liter 4-cylinder

Horsepower…………………………… 185 hp/178 lbs./ft.

Transmission…………………………… 8-speed automatic transmission

Drive Wheels………………………….. All-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point…………………. Montgomery, Alabama

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Jimmy Dinsmore

For several years Jimmy Dinsmore has reviewed new vehicles, offering up a unique look and an interesting voice in his weekly column. Jimmy looks at vehicles from the consumer’s point of view. Light on the technical jargon, and lacking the cynicism that pervades many other auto reviews, Driver’s Side treats each vehicle fairly, offering a light-hearted take. Email him at - jimmydinsmore@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @driversside.

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