2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Review

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Road Test Review

Hyundai Santa Fe front

Hyundai Santa Fe has long been a favourite with the family market and for good reason. The fourth generation Santa Fe takes what was already a great vehicle and makes it substantially better.

This SUV is now a more luxurious family chariot with the benefit of AWD.

Hyundai continues a tradition of adding yet more standard features and safety to compete in a competitive segment.


Showing a radical departure from the previous model, yet still displaying familial lines, the all new Santa Fe is a bold statement.

While the Santa Fe looks sleek from the side and rear, the bonnet looks disproportionally long with a bulging grill. The Santa Fe looks long and sleek from the side and tall with the roof rails.

The Highlander illuminates with LED headlights (Bi-function) with dynamic bending, LED DRL’s, LED taillights and LED Front fog lights.

I like the Dark Hyper Silver 10-spoke 19” alloy wheels. These run Continental tyres, 235/55 R19 101V with a full size alloy spare.

Hyundai Santa Fe dash


First thoughts are spacious and comfortable. Front leather seats are really comfortable as well as being electronically adjustable, and are air-conditioned.

There are soft touch points and I love the heated steering wheel, just the right size and frames the dash perfectly.

A 7-inch colour TFT LCD supervision cluster displays a range of trip computer information – including a digital speedometer – as well as system status and visual alerts from SmartSense and other safety systems.

Visibility from the driver’s seat is not bad, excellent forward, with ‘A’ pillars that don’t impede too much and large rear external mirrors.

I’m not a big fan of the ‘stuck on the dash’ look of the 8.0 inch infotainment display. However the graphics are clear and easy to use and read, which is more important.

The overall functionality for the driver is excellent.

Rear occupants are treated to outside heated seats, with pretty good knee and leg room.

There is an abundance of head room all round. The middle seat is OK for a passenger.

Third row seats are comfortable and suited for up to mid-teens I guess.

Access is assisted by the fold system for the middle row. The middle row of seats can slide up to 30cm allowing flexibility between the two rows.

Importantly though, the rear air conditioning works a treat for all two rows with good vents.

Luggage space is a reasonable 130 litres behind the third row seats, expanding to 547 litres behind the second row and to an impressive 1,625 litres with both rear rows folded.

Hyundai Santa Fe features


The Highlander is absolutely packed with bling and features.

So in order to keep this short I will highlight the key features only:-

  • Integrated memory system (IMS) for driver’s seat, mirror and HUD settings
  • 14 way power Driver’s seat with cushion extension
  • 10″ infotainment display.
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility
  • 10-speaker Infinity Premium Audio System
  • Electro-chromatic (auto-dimming) interior mirror
  • Hyundai Auto Link Premium makes its debut on Highlander model
  • Head-Up Display (HUD) adjustable
  • Wireless inductive smartphone charging
  • Park Assist (PA) – Parallel, Perpendicular and Reverse
  • A ‘Walk-in’ switch allows effort-free folding of the second row for easy third-row access,
  • Highlander’s Smart Power Tailgate opens automatically when it detects the Smart Key

Hyundai Santa Fe engine

Engine and Drive

Hyundai runs the 2.2-litre CRDi turbo-diesel engine that delivers 147kW/440Nm.

This runs through an eight-speed automatic transmission and Hyundai’s own HTRAC all-wheel drive system.

The HTRAC AWD system apportions drive based on wheel- and vehicle-speed inputs.

In combination with each of the three drive modes, HTRAC optimises traction to increase comfort, stability, acceleration and fuel efficiency.

Drive Mode Select lets drivers choose between Comfort, Eco, Sport and Smart modes.

A Rack-Mounted Motor-Driven Power Steering (R-MDPS) system gives reasonably direct, well-weighted feel with varied assistance depending on vehicle speed.

Being a family car the driving dynamics focus on comfort and quietness. With revised suspension, floorplan and chassis, the all new Santa Fe certainly provides a smooth, quiet ride.

I did feel however, the Lane Keep Assist was overly intrusive and found myself seemingly wrestling with it, even when in the middle of the lane.

Two other drivers felt the same.

Hyundai Santa Fe safety


Even though the Santa Fe hasn’t been tested by ANCAP yet it is loaded with both active and passive safety features.

Key safety features include:

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) including:

  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
  • Brake Assist System (BAS)
  • Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
  • Downhill Brake Control (DBC)
  • Hill-start Assist Control (HAC)
  • Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Vehicle Stability Management (VSM)

Hyundai SmartSense including;

  • Advanced Smart Parking Assist System (ASPAS)
  • Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist – Rear (BCA-R)
  • Driver Attention Warning (DAW)
  • Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) – Car, Pedestrian & Cyclist
  • High Beam Assist (HBA)
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) – Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Active LKA
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA)
  • Rear Occupant Alert (ROA)
  • Safe Exit Assist (SEA)
  • Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with Stop & Go
  • Surround View Monitor (SVM)


  • Front airbags – driver & front passenger
  • Side (thorax) airbags – driver & front passenger
  • Side curtain airbags – 1st & 2nd rows

Plus a host of other safety features other features

Good Bits:

  • Engine and Transmission
  • Family Practicality
  • Standard Features

Not so good Bits:

  • Dislike the dash style
  • LKA overactive
  • Looks awkward


The all new Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander certainly makes a statement. Some reviewers and people really liked the external design and the internal dash design, me not so much.

Hyundai Santa Fe sits firmly in the family market segment. It is designed for either a larger family with two or three kids that often takes others to school, sporting events etc.

Safety is a key feature as is comfort and keeping the kids occupied.

Mostly the driving will be around town and freeway driving.

There will be holidays and occasional forays along dirt roads, to the snow or towing a smaller camper trailer or sea doo etc.

With the new Santa Fe Highlander there is no doubt that the latest version is a marked improvement over an already excellent product and definitely worth the look if you are after a 7 seat family AWD SUV.

Hyundai Santa Fe rear

Also look at

Facts and Figures: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander

  • Engine: 2.2L four-cylinder diesel producing 147kW/440Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed sports automatic
  • Warranty: 5 years/unlimited km 1 Yr Roadside assist
  • Safety: TBA
  • Origin: South Korea
  • Priced from $60,500

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