The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has decided the "Sport" part can now speak for itself. With the debut of its all-new, fully redesigned 2019 iteration, this midsize crossover henceforth will simply be known as the Hyundai Santa Fe.
But, what then, you may ask, becomes of the long-wheelbase Hyundai crossover that heretofore was known simply as the Hyundai Santa Fe?
Its new business cards will read: "Hyundai Santa Fe XL."
Now that the place cards are sorted, let's delve into the changes.
Regarding the three-row, long-wheelbase, seven-passenger 2019 Santa Fe XL (nee 2018 Santa Fe) there really aren't any changes, save the name. Otherwise, it carries over unchanged while awaiting its in-the-wings future replacement.
The standard-wheelbase 2019 Santa Fe (nee, 2018 Santa Fe Sport) is, however, all-new, arriving for the new model year in its fourth generation.
Helping give it confidence that the "Sport" appellation is now self-evident is its aggressive new styling. The 2018's wide-eyed headlights and simple grille of horizontal bars give way to raptor-eye LED lighting and a chrome-mustachioed grille mouth filled with dental work of large mesh.
In profile are sharp character lines and a larger greenhouse while, out back, is a bold horizontal chrome strip and boomerang wraparound taillights.
Under the multi-plane hood can live any of three engines -- a carried-over 2.4-liter, 185-hp naturally aspirated I-4; a 2.0-liter, 235-hp turbocharged four; or a new 2.2-liter turbo diesel I-4 that makes 190 hp and a pavement-rippling 322 lb.-ft. of torque.
Regardless, every Santa Fe is equipped with a new eight-speed automatic that can send power -- again, regardless of engine -- to just the front wheels or, if the AWD option-box is checked, to all four.
Intriguingly, gas-engine Santa Fes are available only with two-row, five-passenger seating. The diesel, however, will boast a standard third row for seven-passenger seating, although that cozy third row is what is politely referred to as an "an occasional-use" seat. NBA prospects need not apply.
That third-row seat, by the way, is made possible by a wheelbase that, compared to the 2018 Santa Fe Sport, stretches 2.6 inches farther under a body that's 2.8 inches longer between its bumpers. The result, Hyundai says, is more interior leg room.
Of course, all the expected 21st century infotainment perks are offered, either standard or optional, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility on higher trims.
Safety nannies offered by Santa Fe include forward collision avoidance assist, blind spot detection and avoidance, lane keep assist, smart cruise, surround view monitor, cross-traffic alert and more.
Look for gasoline-powered 2019 Santa Fes to arrive in showrooms in September. The diesel is expected to debut in the first quarter of next year. No pricing yet.
Also, no word on the ETA of the next-generation, long-wheelbase Santa Fe, which is "currently under development." We are told, however, that it will seat eight and will boast a new name. For now, the carried-over three-row Santa Fe, under the moniker Santa Fe XL, soldiers on.
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