The poor Santa Fe XL. Despite a new name for 2019, it is indeed the old version of the Hyundai crossover Santa Fe. Its five-piece counterpart has been completely redesigned this year, and the XL will be replaced later this year with the brand new 2020 Hyundai Palisade.
Despite the loan period and the quite long time this story has a silver frame. For people who need a three-row SUV, the Santa Fe XL is still remarkable.
Touching First Impressions
The Santa Fe XL is powered by a 3.3-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 252 pounds – torque via a six-speed automatic transmission. My Limited Ultimate Tester with top-trim function gives strength to its front wheels, but it has four-wheel drive available.
Actually, all-wheel drive is the setup I'd prefer. The V6 engine offers high torque at the bottom and in conjunction with a sensitive throttle it is easy to chirp the tires that come off a brake light. Better distribution of power could provide smoother off-the-line starts.
But with a careful right foot, the Santa Fe XL looks like a smooth operator. The big Santa Fe, with its well-stocked suspension, feels more like a luxury luxury sedan than a big crossover. The ride quality of the Hyundai comes close to the Lexus ES 300h.
But smooth driving, the way it is, the Santa Fe XL feels unprepared when I increase the pace. The body roll stands out, a reminder of the size of this thing. The Honda Pilot is more compact when driven in a hurry, yet offers a pleasing ride.
Everything else about the Santa Fe XL driving experience is fine. The steering is well weighted while the response is reasonably direct and precise. The brake pedal is also well modulated. Motorway performing force is respectable. The six-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly and desperately wants to fall off the highway, but dips into the background if I just drive on.
Fresh outside, dated inside
Even though the Santa Fe XL has been in progress for a long time, I still find it quite attractive. Inside, it's a different story, though I can not say the cabin is poorly designed. The material quality is suitable for a medium sized SUV and there is enough space in the first and second row. The third row, however, is tight, and the story only gets worse if you venture into the cargo hold and only look for 13.5 cubic meters of space with all the seats.
So, yes, you can take up to seven people in the Santa Fe XL, but good luck if you find room for all your belongings. Competitors such as the Chevy Traverse, Ford Explorer and Volkswagen Atlas offer more than 20 cubic feet behind the third row and more cargo space behind the first and second series. At least the Santa Fe can drag as the other SUVs up to 5,000 pounds.
Folding the rear seats of the Hyundai is child's play. The third row disappears in a jiffy after a few straps have been pulled, and the middle row can also be easily leveled by simply pulling a lever on the side of each captain's chair. The folding rear seats are nice, but nothing beats the simplicity and speed of conventional folding.
Modern technology baked
The Santa Fe XL SE base station comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on a 7-inch touchscreen. HD and satellite radio are standard equipped with a stereo with six speakers. This is much more standard equipment than many Santa Fe XL competitors.
Conversely, Hyundai is quite stingy with the driver assistance technician. If you want pedestrian detection braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and adaptive headlights with automatic high beam, you not only need to step up to the $ 39,550 limited Ultimate trim, but also opt for the $ 2,100 tech package.
How I Want It
The Santa Fe XL starts at $ 30,850, but even when it's out, the Santa Fe XL falls on the cheaper side of the three-row crossover segment. In the back of my head I would give everything and start with the Top Limited Ultimate fairing, which is equipped with 19-inch wheels and keyless entry. Inside, there's a push-button start, a panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, a memory driver's seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second captain's chairs, an enhanced 8-inch touchscreen with embedded navigation, Infinityand a handsfree tailgate to the rear.
The upper bezel also has standard blind spot monitoring, a rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, and a 360-degree camera. Of course, I would add the aforementioned tech package and all-wheel drive for $ 1,750. When all the boxes are checked, we see $ 44,445 out the door.
Not to be missed
The Hyundai Santa Fe XL is a kind of lame duck crossover at this point. Soon we will have the brand new palisade for American three-row crossover consumers.
But despite this inherent obsolescence, the Santa Fe XL is still pretty good. It is nicely decorated and pleasant to drive. And with a base price that undercuts many of its toughest competitors, it's still a great way to get a three-tier utility in 2019.