Currently reading: 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe: new details revealed of extensive facelift
Large seven-seat SUV moves upmarket with fresh underpinnings, new hybrid powertrains and revamped styling
Felix Page Autocar writer
5 mins read
30 June 2020

Hyundai has confirmed new details of a significant update for its Santa Fe flagship SUV, which brings a bold styling overhaul, fresh hybrid powertrains and an all-new platform in a bid to enhance the model’s premium appeal. 

The seven-seater is the first model in Hyundai’s European line-up to move across to the ‘third-generation’ architecture, which already underpins the US-market Sonata saloon. The brand claims the new platform will offer “improved performance, efficiency and safety”. 

Headline features include a new ventilation system that improves air movement through the engine bay, allowing heat to dissipate and improving the Santa Fe’s stability. Heavy components are also located lower in the chassis for a lower centre of gravity. 

The SUV’s dynamic performance is also claimed to have been improved by relocating the steering arms, while reinforced sound- and vibration-absorption material throughout the chassis aids rolling refinement.

The 2020 Santa Fe will be available with hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrains for the first time. The hybrid is expected to be the most popular variant of the new Santa Fe and will be available from launch. It mates Hyundai's new Smartstream 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with a 59bhp electric motor and a 1.49kW lithium ion battery to produce 227bhp and 258lb ft. Both front- and four-wheel-drive configurations are available.

The four-wheel-drive-only PHEV option will arrive on the market next year. Already deployed in the Santa Fe's recently refreshed Kia Sorento sibling, it pairs the same 1.6-litre engine with a 90bhp electric motor for a combined output of 261bhp and 258lb ft. Hyundai is yet to confirm a WLTP-certified electric-only range figure, but the Santa Fe PHEV's 13.8kWh battery pack offers a claimed 40 miles per charge on the NEDC cycle.  

Hyundai claims neither hybrid option loses out on passenger or load space, with the battery packs for each located under the front seats. 

The new Smartstream petrol engine uses Hyundai's newly developed Continuously Variable Valve Duration (CVVD) technology, which is said to improve performance by 4%, fuel efficiency by 5% and emissions by 12% over the outgoing 1.6-litre motor by varying how long the inlet and outlet valves remain open according to the driving situation. Also featured is a low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation function, which sends burnt gas back to the combustion chamber to cool the engine and reduce CO2 emissions. 


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A pure-combustion option will also be offered in the form of an upgraded version of the current car's 2.2-litre diesel motor. Improvements include a reshaped camshaft, a higher-pressure injection system and a switch from a steel block to aluminum, resulting in a 19.5% weight loss. Power - sent to either the front axle or all four wheels through a newly developed eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox - is up slightly from 197bhp to 199bhp, but torque output is unchanged at 325lb ft.  

The Skoda Kodiaq rival has been completely overhauled visually as well, bearing a bold new design that, Hyundai says, combines “rugged presence and sophistication”. It's slightly larger all round than its predecessor, measuring 4785mm long, 1900mm wide and 1685mm tall. 

The front grille, which has been significantly enlarged to span the entire width of the car, features a new 3D mesh pattern and is flanked by a pair of distinctive T-shaped daytime running lights. The lower air intake sits within a new skid plate, while vertically orientated side vents aim to strengthen the car’s “upright and robust impression".

At the back, the Santa Fe has gained a new reflector bar that stretches between redesigned brake light clusters and a new lower bumper in the same style as the front end. The external redesign is finished off with wider wheel arches and new, aerodynamically optimised alloy wheel designs.

Inside, the new platform is said to allow for enhanced comfort and convenience over the outgoing car, with a focus on premium, soft-touch materials throughout. 

The dashboard and centre console have been redesigned, and the current car’s 7.0in infotainment touchscreen has been ditched for a 10.25in unit as standard, while the analogue gauge cluster makes way for a new 12.3in digital unit. 

The gear selector is gone, too, replaced by a shift-by-wire button arrangement on the new floating centre console and a rotary Terrain Mode selector, which sets the vehicle up for driving on surfaces such as sand, snow and mud. 

There has been a focus on connectivity with this facelift and the new Santa Fe is compatible with Hyundai's Bluelink software, which allows owners to locate their car, check its fuel level or unlock it remotely via a dedicated app. Smartphone mirroring is equipped as standard, as is an upgraded wireless phone charger, voice recognition functionality and Hyundai Live - which offers up-to-date traffic information, finds nearby fuel stations and can send sat-nav data to your phone to allow you to finish a journey on foot. 

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Safety features fitted as standard include adapative cruise control, blindspot collision warning, safe exit assist and lane-following assist. New for 2020 is a Highway Driving Assist function that uses sensors and map data to automatically adjust the car's speed in certain environments, and Remote Smart Parking Assist, which can be used to move the Santa Fe out of a parking space before climbing aboard.

Also new for 2020 is a top-rung Luxury trim aimed at "premium competitors", bringing bespoke 20in alloy wheels and colour-matching bumper and wheel-arch trim, rather than the black items found on lower-spec cars. Three different exterior colours are available, as is a choice of five interior colours. 

Andreas-Christoph Hoffman, vice-president of marketing and product at Hyundai Motor Europe, said: “With the range of new features, the new Santa Fe further progresses as a premium vehicle. It once again shows that we are listening to our customers and are constantly providing the latest features to serve their needs. 

“This is also the case regarding our powertrain line-up. With the introduction of the new Santa Fe, our whole SUV line-up will be available with electrified versions ranging from hybrid solutions to fuel cell.”

The new Santa Fe will go on sale in Europe from September, with prices to be confirmed nearer the time. 

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3 June 2020
... is it too much to ask for some technical analysis / explanation? For example, from where have the control arms been relocated, and why is their new location superior? What makes this location superior?

But yeah, overall, this defacates on VWs, and from a great height.

3 June 2020

I'd venture to suggest.


A View from Down Under

30 June 2020

Literally one of the finest production car interiors of all time

3 June 2020
It's odd but this car got very little attention when launched a few years ago apart from the fact many journalists thought it too expensive . Personally I think it looks far better than the kodiak/allspace/tarraco triplets and easily competes with the likes of an x3/glc/q5/disco sport but with additional space and a far better warranty .

3 June 2020

Lovely car, but how does dissipatring engine bay heat improve stability?

3 June 2020
Leslie Brook wrote:

Lovely car, but how does dissipatring engine bay heat improve stability?

Read the whole sentence, they have relocated heavy parts of the cooling system to lower the vehicles centre of gravity, that increases stability.. 

3 June 2020
Citytiger wrote:

Leslie Brook wrote:

Lovely car, but how does dissipatring engine bay heat improve stability?

Read the whole sentence, they have relocated heavy parts of the cooling system to lower the vehicles centre of gravity, that increases stability.. 

I have read the whole sentence, the remark about lowering heavier components comes after a full stop and is therefore a new sentence. The heavier parts do not necessarily have to be related to cooling, they could be the battery, alternator, engine, accessories etc.

3 June 2020

This looks good and it's far more desirable, expressive and premium looking than the dull and uninspired X3, GLC and VW Group offerings. And that interior knocks spots off them all, looking so much more expensive and premium. And more importanly the reliability of the Santa Fe will be light years ahead.

3 June 2020
2020 Will be remembered as,
The Year Of The Grill.
No grill for electric
Big grill for combustion.
Got it!

3 June 2020
Not a fan of the exterior. The front clip looks like a deformed sea creature. Just not cohesive


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