What's in a name? Hyundai's crossover SUV lineup shuffles names, seats

August 22, 2018

Getting the sizes right for Hyundai's range of crossover SUVs is hard enough, and its turntable of names isn't any easier.

This month and next month, Hyundai will begin selling the 2019 Santa Fe and 2019 Santa Fe XL at dealers across the country. Those names should sound vaguely familiar, even the cars they're applied to may not be. 

As part of its push to catch up with other utility vehicle makers, Hyundai will have at least seven names on dealer lots for shoppers to consider—and some of them have been used for smaller or other vehicles in the past.

Notably, the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe (née Santa Fe Sport) is the automaker's new, middle-of-the-road offering and its name has applied to several vehicles in the past. Starting at $26,480 for a base Santa Fe SE with front-wheel drive and a 2.4-liter inline-4, the Santa Fe seats five and is comparable in size to a Ford Edge. Fully equipped, the 2019 Santa Fe Ultimate costs $39,780 with a turbo-4, all-wheel drive, upgraded infotainment, leather, and panoramic sunroof, among other creature comforts.

Later this year, Hyundai will offer a three-row version of the Santa Fe equipped exclusively with a 2.2-liter turbodiesel but its dimensions will stay the same. 

DON'T MISS: 2019 Hyundai Elantra debuts: Compact car adds safety tech, gets edgier look

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe

That coming three-row Santa Fe isn't the same as the 2019 Santa Fe XL, which is a new name but not a new car. The 2019 Santa Fe XL is last year's Santa Fe (which can trace its roots to the Hyundai Veracruz), complete with last year's 3.3-liter V-6. The 2019 Santa Fe XL is comparably sized to a Chevy Traverse or Honda Pilot. Starting at $31,830 for a front-wheel drive base Santa Fe XL SE, the big family hauler isn't related under its sheet metal to the new Santa Fe, despite the name. Top-of-the-line (and superlative laden) 2019 Santa Fe XL Limited Ultimates with all-wheel drive cost $42,280 for all the goodies: upgraded infotainment, leather, heated and cooled seats, navigation, and more. 

Next year, the Santa Fe XL name will give way to another new name for Hyundai, reportedly "Palisade." The 2020 Hyundai Palisade will be a three-row crossover similar, or slightly larger, than the Santa Fe XL and will be equipped with a gas engine. A hybrid, or plug-in powertrain may be in the works for the Palisade as well. 

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

At the other end of the spectrum, the 2019 Hyundai Kona is the automaker's smallest crossover—for now. The Kona is roughly similar in size to the Subaru Crosstrek or Honda HR-V, and is available with a gas or all-electric powertrain.

A smaller crossover for Hyundai is due next year that will compete with a growing class that includes the Ford EcoSport and Toyota C-HR. Its name isn't yet clear.

The 2019 Hyundai Tucson is still the automaker's compact crossover, closest in size to the Ford Escape or Subaru Forester. A fuel-cell Hyundai Nexo crossover is due this year, available in limited locations, to replace the aged hydrogen-powered Tucson Fuel Cell model.

That's not all for the little, big utility lineup: A Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup is reportedly in the works for 2019.

For Hyundai's utility vehicles, what's in a name?

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