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With room for five adults, the new 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe gives the automaker a viable competitor agains the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe has lots of things going for it including a huge “likeability” factor.

After all, there is a lot to like about the vehicle. It’s handsome on the outside, spacious and comfortable on the inside, delivers and smooth and efficient ride and has ample power in segment where horsepower seems to have become a major consideration for manufacturers if not for consumers.

Hyundai, in my estimation, has actually solved one of the riddles of the contemporary car business by figuring out the placement of the center stack screen that carries information for the navigation system and entertainment system with a horizontal screen mounted just above the dashboard.

The wide screen displays both the navigation and entertainment information, coming from the Hyundai’s own system or from Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Naturally, the Santa Fe is also equipped with Bluetooth and Hyundai also has a series of phone apps designed to aid the driving experience.

(Hyundai Venue completes Korean carmaker’s SUV roll-out. Click Here for the story.)

The new Santa Fe offers plenty of power with a turbocharged four-cylinder putting out 235 horsepower.

I thought it was a clever solution and one that was easy to digest and cleaner than solutions offered by other manufacturers, who have to wrestle with the interior bits and components from a multitude of suppliers into a coherent presentation.

Beyond the clever solution to the center-stack screen, the interior is cleanly laid out with an emphasis on function and an easy-to-read instrument cluster, which is augmented by a head-up display, which also is easy to read. The steering wheel has a nice feel, while the driver’s seat is comfortable even on longer drives and a blend of materials and textures has soft material at key points and helps make the driving experience interesting.

The entire cabin has the feel of luxury car as one of my passengers observed during my test drive as Hyundai further separated the five passenger Santa Fe that I tested from its slightly larger three-row Santa Fe for 2019.

Across the industry clarity has never been the strong suit of the committees that name and rename and reposition vehicles so for 2019 Santa Fe Sport was renamed the Santa Fe. The current long wheelbase three-row, seven-passenger model called Santa Fe has been renamed Santa Fe XL for the 2019 model year. The Ultimate designation on the model I drove was the trim level. The all-new three-row, eight-passenger SUV mercifully carries a completely new name: Palisade.

But the changes to the new 2019 Santa Fe are substantial. The cabin is well insulated and quiet. The night-time lighting scheme throughout the Santa Fe’s cabin isn’t obtrusive and nor does it interfere with the driving effort but makes the information easy to absorb in the darkened cabin.

The driver in the new Santa Fe has easy-to-read gauges and screens while accessing the controls is simple.

The exterior of the new Santa Fe also is well designed. One of the things I liked about the it is it didn’t appear so tall standing still that you instantly thought it was too big for maneuvering on city streets.

(Click Here for details about the new Hyundai Sonata.)

At the same time, the Santa Fe I tested has plenty of interior space, including passengers and cargo, adding the vehicle’s overall utility. In fact, it has 2.7 more cubic feet of space for passengers, slightly more head room and rides on a wheelbase that is 2.3 inches longer.

The overall exterior package is sleek and sporty but the overall design also should age well since it’s hardly extreme.

The 2019 Santa Fe equipped with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine putting out 235 horsepower and 289 foot-pounds of torque had plenty kick. In addition, the eight-speed transmission functions smoothly and unobtrusively. The powertrain in the 2019 Santa Fe also is equipped with all-wheel-drive and mode selector switch that gives the driver even more control over the vehicle’s performance.

The driving dynamics were neither too harsh nor too soft and this “Goldilocks-style” performance extended to the steering while the brakes were quite adequate. Going through a curve or around a corner at speed the vehicle handled quite nicely as it did going around other vehicles on the freeway.

The 8-inch touchscreen in the Santa Fe provides a variety of information for the driver and passenger.

The 2019 Santa Fe was a top-of-the-line model priced at $39,905, which included the $980 destination charge and special features such as a heated steering wheel, 19-inch wheels and wireless device charging. However, pricing for the Santa Fe starts at $25,750 plus the destination charge.

Hyundai Smart Sense technology is also available on Santa Fe, including high-beam assist, forward collision avoidance assistance, blind spot collision avoidance assistance, lane-keeping assistance, driver attention warning, smart cruise control and rear-view monitor and parking assistance are all standard.

(To see more about the Hyundai, Kia app that allows the owner to control EV settings, Click Here.)

A surround-view monitor, which is very useful and parking distance warning are optional on the 2019 Santa Fe. Overall, the Santa Fe with well-honed blend of style technology and very capable powertrain is, a well-equipped challenger to vehicles such as the Honda CRV or Toyota RAV4.

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