SEOUL — Hyundai says it made a special effort with the redesigned 2019 Santa Fe to satisfy crossover shoppers looking for a premium experience from mass-market brands.
Hak Soo Ha, director of interior design for Hyundai Motor Group, said designers paid attention to metallic finishes inside and moved the upper instrument panel away from passengers to create a sense of openness.
Other touches were added to appeal to both men and women, Ha told Automotive News.
He said men will appreciate the Santa Fe's more aggressive look and that subtle interior changes were made with women in mind. For instance, Ha said designers left enough space behind interior door handles to accommodate women with long fingernails.
The redesigned Santa Fe will include the brand's first diesel offering in the U.S.
This year's introductions of the Santa Fe, the brand's best-selling light truck, and the Kona compact crossover will bring Hyundai closer to matching consumer tastes, said Andrew DiFeo, chairman of the Hyundai National Dealer Council.
The five-passenger Santa Fe Sport will now be called Santa Fe. The three-row, seven-passenger model will be renamed the Santa Fe XL.
The Santa Fe and XL bring Hyundai halfway to its goal of eight new or revamped crossover debuts by 2020. The gasoline version is to hit U.S. showrooms in August while the diesel variant is due in 2019.
The diesel Santa Fe has a 2.2-liter CRDi turbodiesel that churns out nearly 200 hp. The other options are a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder GDI engine with an estimated 185 hp, and the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with an estimated 232 hp. Each is matched with a new eight-speed automatic transmission.
Hyundai is pushing the Santa Fe as a family vehicle, so a diesel option comes with several advantages: better fuel economy, towing capacity and torque.
The diesel version also comes with an occasional-use third-row seat with one-touch folding second-row seats that allow for easier entry into the third row. Other non-XL Santa Fe models won't have a third row. Other features include rear-seat occupant alert, which debuts with the Santa Fe.