Hyundai’s 2019 Santa Fe is a family-friendly fashion statement

CASEY WILLIAMS | Auto Reviewer
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When my husband and I decided to adopt several years ago, we traded our Volkswagen Beetle for a Mini Countryman because we needed four doors and “more space.”

My parents laughed. Soon, we were crying because the little blonde-haired girl who followed does not pack lightly. We needed an even bigger car, but we had no plans of giving up style and panache just because we had a kid. A crossover like the new Hyundai Santa Fe would have been a righteous family-friendly fashion statement.

Designers clearly had a meeting of minds when they sculpted the Santa Fe and its more luxurious and larger sibling, the Palisade.

Both look like they should rest in Genesis showrooms with their LED exterior lighting, squinty headlamps, large grille, neat crease and liberal use of chrome. It’s all placed over 19-in. wheels in Ultimate trim.

Interiors are equally exquisite with brown quilted leather seats with copper stitching, perfectly-sized leather-wrapped steering wheel and roof upholstery that looks and feels like your favorite sweatshirt. The dash, doors and console are also lush with stitched brown coverings. Gray woodgrain sweeps from dash to doors as speaker grilles have a chiseled rock effect — all very chic.

There’s a wardrobe of comfort and technology, too. Heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel and panoramic sunroof elevate the passenger experience, as do dual-zone automatic climate control and thumping Infinity audio. A large intuitive touchscreen handles audio and navigation functions while a wireless charging pad and Bluetooth keeps devices humming. A full suite of safety tech includes adaptive cruise, forward collision avoidance, blind spot warning, lane-keep assist and rear cross path detection systems. A rear seat sensor alerts parents so kids aren’t left behind. Even better, the blind spot system warns you of approaching traffic as you depart the vehicle.

Beneath the crisp bodywork is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine conjuring up 235 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque — all routed to the wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is optional, but we skipped it; there’s little need in North Texas. Routing that much power to the front wheels won’t lay yards of rubber, but the torque gives the Santa Fe a peppy step off the line and keeps it dancing as speed rises. I wouldn’t write to my momma about fuel economy, because several mid-size crossovers achieve comfortably over 30-MPG highway Auto stop/start, which pauses the engine at rest, contributes to 20/25-MPG city/highway.

But it’s a pretty nice drive. The turbo is smooth, always streaming beneath your feet while the suspension and steering feel precise, able to absorb rough pavement without shaking teeth inside. Clip it through the twisties or a fast on-ramp, and you’ll be reminded the Santa Fe is a roomy crossover; but set it across wide prairie, and it is beyond pleasant.

The fact that Hyundai is delivering a worthy competitor to the Ford Edge, Jeep Compass, Chevy Blazer and Honda Passport is impressive — particularly when you consider how worthy all are. Especially with kids who cost a house payment for daycare, it’s nice that affordability and fashion can coexist. How does a base price of $24,250 or $38,205 as-tested sound? It seems like an incredibly good value to us. We should have bought one.