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Month: December 2018

2019 Subaru Ascent vs. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe: Compare Cars

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The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe and 2019 Subaru Ascent are two crossover SUVs with similar missions to be comfortable family haulers. They take two surprisingly different paths to get there, however.

On our scale, both crossover SUVs will likely rate 6.8 out of 10 points, with the caveat that we’re rounding up the Santa Fe’s score based on our projections for the NHTSA’s crash test scores. That may sound like a tie, but these crossover SUVs have some notable differences.

MORE: Read our 2019 Subaru Ascent and 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe reviews

The Santa Fe costs about $26,500 to start, but that’s for a front-wheel-drive version with a 185-horsepower inline-4. Add all-wheel drive and upgrade to the 235-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 and the Santa Fe’s price tag balloons to about $35,200 for the Limited trim level.

By contrast, the 2019 Ascent’s base price is about $33,000. All Ascents use a 2.4-liter turbo-4 rated at 260 hp and all-wheel drive is standard. Adding leather upholstery and a few other options that make it equipped similarly to the Santa Fe Limited trim level pushes it to about $40,000.

2019 Subaru Ascent first drive

2019 Subaru Ascent first drive

2019 Subaru Ascent first drive

2019 Subaru Ascent first drive

2019 Subaru Ascent

2019 Subaru Ascent

The Subaru’s price premium comes in part because it’s a considerably larger crossover SUV. In pictures, the Hyundai and Subaru don’t look that much different. However, the Ascent stretches almost 197 inches from bumper to bumper, about 9 inches longer than the Santa Fe. Its interior also houses a standard third row of seats, making it the default choice between the two for buyers interested in minivan-like utility with crossover SUV looks.

We like the way both crossover SUVs drive. The Ascent is considerably heavier, tipping the scales at around 4,400 pounds compared to about 4,000 pounds for a turbocharged Santa Fe. However, the Ascent’s extra power and its well-tuned continuously variable transmission (CVT) makes it feel faster off the line than the relatively slow-revving Hyundai’s engine and its upshift-eager 8-speed automatic transmission.

Quick steering makes the Ascent feel more nimble in town despite its larger size, but the Santa Fe’s slightly heftier steering settles in better for long highway slogs. In terms of their ride and handling, it’s basically a draw.

Neither is a serious off-roader, but the Ascent boasts 8.7 inches of ground clearance and a traction control mode tailored to slippery surfaces.

Comfort and features

Base Santa Fes are relatively spartan inside, but the Limited and Ultimate trim levels with the turbo-4 engine pile on more luxurious trim and attractive surface finishes. We’re especially fond of the warm hue to the headliner, which stands out in a sea of light gray used in nearly every other new car (including the Ascent).

Comfortable front seats wrapped in leather upholstery come on turbocharged Santa Fes. The rear seat has good head and leg room but can be tight for three abreast. Behind the rear seat, the Santa Fe has about 36 cubic feet of cargo space, which grows to 71 cubes with the second row folded.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

The Ascent has superior outward vision thanks to its relatively low window sills and narrower roof pillars. Its dashboard is a cacophony of angles and lines, but controls are arranged logically. Its front seats are comfortable and its third row offers superior leg and head room to the Santa Fe. On most trim levels, Subaru offers buyers a choice between a three-seat bench for the second row or two captain’s chairs with a narrow pass-through to the standard third row. The Ascent’s third row is easier accessed by scooting the second row forward at the tug of a couple of levers, however. Adults can sit in the third row for extended periods, which is something we can’t say about all three-row crossover SUVs.

Fold the Ascent’s third row of seats flat and it can swallow about 46 cubic feet of cargo. With the second and third rows flat, the Ascent holds an impressive 86 cubic feet.

The Santa Fe’s dashboard’s lines are elegant and simple. A 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is standard, while the Ultimate trim level includes an upsized screen with built-in navigation. All Santa Fes have four USB ports.

Subaru fits a 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple and Android compatibility  to the base Ascent, but all other trims use an 8.0-inch display. Subaru offers up to eight USB ports in the Ascent, including two in the third row.

Both crossover SUVs come well-equipped with active safety tech such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection as well as adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitors are standard on the Santa Fe and are included on all but the base Ascent.

If the Santa Fe and Ascent aren’t perfect matches for you, it may pay to linger aound the Subaru and Hyundai showrooms a little longer.

The Santa Fe is sized between Subaru’s smaller Forester and its larger Ascent. The new 2020 Hyundai Palisade three-row crossover SUV should square off well against the Ascent, although its V-6 engine is more powerful and it comes standard with front-wheel drive.

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Hyundai introduces fingerprint scanner to unlock cars in China

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Chinese drivers will be able to lock and unlock the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe just as they do their smartphones and laptop computers. 

Hyundai revealed the Chinese-market 2019 Santa Fe at the Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition last weekend and it also unveiled fingerprint-scanning technology to unlock and start the vehicle. The Korea Herald reported on the new technology and said the addition of the flashy system is an effort to change perceptions of the brand locally. Hyundai has struggled to gain traction in the world’s largest auto market against Chinese and European brands. 

CHECK OUT: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe first drive: Name a better deal

Hyundai added the system has a 1 in 50,000 chance of failure as it relies on human capacitance for clean reads of a fingerprint. In other words, the scanner reads electricity levels in other parts of the finger to ensure success and prevent forgery.

However, the move is still a risky one for the South Korean automaker. Other automakers have shied away from installing similar technology on door handles since the technology needs to work flawlessly in all weather conditions. The scanner must prove successful on hot days, in the rain, and in the cold or freezing temperatures. ZDNet reported these durability concerns have put fingerprint scanning technology on the backburner at many other automakers. But, with the launch, Hyundai will become the first brand to offer the technology.

When a driver scans their fingerprint to enter the car, the 2019 Santa Fe will automatically configure some settings to the driver. The crossover will adjust the driver’s seat position and exterior mirrors, for example, when it identifies a registered user.

The Car Connection reached out to Hyundai for more information on the technology and to learn if the system will be offered in North America. We’ll update this story if we hear back.

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2020 Hyundai Palisade Review, Ratings, Specs, Prices, and Photos

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The 2020 Hyundai Palisade is the automaker’s largest crossover and a three-row family hauler that replaces the Santa Fe XL.

The 2020 Palisade’s strength is its roominess. It has more than four times the small-item storage capacity than the Santa Fe XL—more pens, more soft drinks, more notepads for more kids.

Its bedrock is its perceived sturdiness through its blocky and upright design and active safety features, some of which are standard on every model.

Review continues below

When it’s released sometime around summer 2019, the Palisade likely to undercut rivals such as the Honda Pilot and Subaru Ascent by several hundred dollars in most of its configurations, although Hyundai hasn’t yet said how much it will cost.

The 2020 Palisade will be available in SEL, SEL Plus, Limited, and Ultimate trim levels with a few options scattered between them.

Design, performance, and comfort

The 2020 Palisade begins a new design era for Hyundai, migrating away from the sameness of their previous crossovers.

Up front, the Palisade’s unique face has a reptilian quality—and we don’t mean our deep-seated collective unconscious. The vertical, bracketed LED daytime headlights that push away from the grille are distinctive (perhaps divisive, too), and Hyundai designers call them the car’s “crocodile eyes.”

The Palisade’s grille is imposing and upright, a honeycomb pattern framed by silver-painted plastic that’s more durable than it sounds—engineers developed a “liquid silver” paint process that imparts the finish with a matte, durable look that’s supposedly resistant to chipping.

Spilt headlights, top to bottom, push the Palisade’s signature toward the corners. In the dark, it reads even wider than the crossover’s 77.8-inch width would indicate.

Along the body sides, chrome trim skips convention; instead of outlining the windows, the chrome trim dips sharply toward the rear wheel. Along with black plastic near the edges of the rear passenger doors, the chrome’s contribution is a visual trick meant to make the roof pillar look bigger and stronger. Hyundai’s designers, briefly: The Palisade is tough enough.

Around back, the same vertical elements from the front frame the rear taillights. A large, block “Palisade” badge spans the wide liftgate above a short rear bumper and exposed exhaust.

Inside, the Palisade’s shift-by-wire transmission afforded designers more room in the center armrest for storage and design. Four buttons for P, R, N, and D tuck nicely near the driver underneath climate control knobs and alongside a rotary terrain selector. The Palisade’s dashboard and trim layout is horizontal and largely unbroken—the Great Plains sans corn. The driver’s instruments (optionally a 12.3-inch digital display) flow neatly to the large 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment (optionally 10.3 inches).

Cloth upholstery is standard on most trims and tony leather treatment is reserved for top trims.

Most of our time was spent in a light beige leather-equipped Ultimate with a butter-soft headliner that punched higher than Hyundai’s traditional budget caste. Lighter shades feel brighter; darker shades will be popular picks for spill-heavy families, though. A deep red burgundy may be the Palisade’s #BestLife, but it’s not clear if that version will make it Stateside.

We’re sure that the 2.2-liter turbodiesel that we drove in South Korea definitely won’t make it to the U.S. The only engine we’ll get when the Palisade goes on sale is a 3.8-liter V-6 adapted from luxury-brand Genesis. In the Palisade, it’ll run on the more efficient Atkinson cycle and make 291 horsepower and 264 pound-feet of torque. It’s exclusively paired to an 8-speed automatic and drives the front wheels as standard, or all four wheels when optionally equipped with a automatic system that was developed in-house and different than the Santa Fe’s Haldex-sourced system. We haven’t yet driven gassers, but math leads us to a reasonable prediction: 291 hp for an eight-person crossover doesn’t equal quick.

Relative fuel efficiency is the Palisade’s game, anyhow. Hyundai isn’t making many predictions there, but combined fuel economy in the low-20s might be as good as it gets—good for three-row crossovers, but only average among new cars.

The Palisade will tow up to 5,000 pounds, according to the automaker.

The heavy crossover uses familiar suspension components to damp roads. MacPherson struts up front and a rear multi-link suspension in back tame the up-and-down undulations of the wheels, but side-to-side motions in the big crossover aren’t as contained: its mission is comfort and the Palisade nearly bursting from its bustle with cargo, people, tech, etc.

We’d take the long way in the Palisade anyway. All three rows are comfortable for adults and head room in the third row isn’t an issue. The front seats are all-day comfortable with plenty of thigh and side supports. Power-adjustable seats are optional, which speaks to the Palisade’s mission of value—not necessarily luxury—first.

The second row is a bench in most models, but captain’s chairs can sub in for older families. The second row slides fore or aft by several inches for easier entry/exit in the third row. Hyundai’s secret sauce for the Palisade is one-touch everything: the second row can tumble forward by pressing one button and the split-folding third row can stow out of the way just as easily. Hyundai boasts more than 42 inches of second row leg room, more than enough for our 6-foot-3 editor to sit behind someone of similar size.

Grab handles and a wide rear door opening make climbing into the third row easier than in some competitors such as the Mazda CX-9. Once in back, the third row doesn’t want for head room, our tall editor could sit fine there, too. It’s a knees-up sitting position, but not wholly uncomfortable. The third row reclines for more big-kid comfort.

Behind the third row, the Palisade boasts 18 cubic feet of storage space, slightly more than average among competitors. We tumbled forward the third row for even more room—46 cubic feet—and an extendable vinyl cargo mat saves the carpet on the rear seatbacks (even if it folds awkwardly with the seats up).

Safety, features, and fuel efficiency

The 2020 Hyundai Palisade isn’t yet on sale in the U.S. and hasn’t made a date with crash testers. The Palisade uses a new frame for Hyundai’s crossovers, one that’ll underpin the Kia Telluride and likely others. It’s full of high-strength steel (which Hyundai forges itself, a relative rarity in the automaking universe) and historical success with the Santa Fe and other crossover’s crashworthiness is encouraging.

Like the Santa Fe, the Palisade will be equipped with a raft of active safety features including automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and a driver-attention monitor that warns occupants to pull over if the Palisade has drifted between lanes too much.

Safety extras include a surround-view camera system and parking sensors to help negotiate svelte spots in crowded malls.

Hyundai hasn’t yet outlined what features will make it Stateside, but we know the basics. Every Palisade will be equipped with at least 18-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, seating for eight, LED daytime running lights, Bluetooth connectivity, and at least two USB charge ports. Top trims get up to six USB chargers, heated and cooled front seats, power-folding third row, second-row captain’s chairs that can be heated or cooled, leather upholstery, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 10.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment, wireless smartphone charger, a 110-volt power outlet in the second row, and a load-leveling rear suspension.

The EPA hasn’t yet rated the Palisade, but we expect it to manage combined mileage in the low-20s with front-wheel drive.

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