It wasn’t that long ago that the South Korean manufacturer was considered to be a volume producer of budget and not overly reliable cars. Today, the Hyundai Motor Company stands out as the largest South Korean automaker with global sales amounting to almost 4.5 million units a year. What’s more, Hyundai’s image as a budget car maker is now mostly in the past as they now stand shoulder to shoulder with the most important automakers in the world. In other words, the 2019 Hyundai is something altogether different than the early 2000s Hyundai. Despite the apparent turn for the better, the last couple of years haven’t been very kind to the Korean manufacturer. Their total sales took a sharp decline during 2017 when they sold “only” 4,420,364 vehicles worldwide, compared to 4,842,962 units in 2016.
Percentage-wise, the losses amount to a whole 8.7 percent on a global level. On a more local level, it was the U.S. market that stood out as one of their two major disappointments. Not counting the much smaller North African and Gulf countries markets (which came short by 22.3 and 33.7 percent respectively), it was the North American market that came up short the most for the brand with as much as 12.3 percent fewer cars sold in 2017 than a year before. Translated to rough figures, that’s 794,744 Hyundai vehicles sold in 2017 compared to 906,126 cars marketed in 2016, including fleet sales. What’s more, the Asian market – Hyundai’s major bloodline – also failed to impress. The Koreans recorded a loss of 11.9 percent there, selling just north of 2 million units in 2017 compared to more than 2.3 million vehicles in 2016.
Meanwhile, the South Korean automaker’s struggles have carried over to Kia Motors as well, in which they hold an almost 34-percent stake. Kia’s global sales fell to around 2.75 million units in 2017 which was shy of their goal of 3.17 million units. You can find more on Kia in a separate article here. Last but not least, the up-and-coming Genesis brand doesn’t seem to be affected by this sales decline across the Hyundai board. Then again, their luxury division only entered the fray in 2016, so any genuine comparison is still inappropriate. Finally, here’s what to go for and what to potentially avoid when it comes to the upcoming Hyundai lineup for MY 2019.
What’s Hot In the New 2019 Hyundai Lineup
06. 2019 Santa Fe
The all-new Hyundai Santa Fe is ready to kickstart the next generation of the Korean automaker’s SUVs and crossovers. It effectively replaces the shorter-wheelbase Santa Fe Sport, whereas the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe carries over into 2019 without any changes, albeit with the new XL suffix. It, too, will be replaced by an all-new model which should bring the Hyundai crossover/SUV lineup up to six members by 2020. The new 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe doesn’t only look bigger and more mature, it actually offers a bit more space for both passengers and cargo. Speaking of looks, the fourth-generation model sports the company’s new cascading grille and thinner headlamps for a more menacing frontal appearance. The interior has also gone through a major visual overhaul but, overall, doesn’t offer any groundbreaking improvements.
The 2019 Santa Fe will start out with two gasoline engines before being joined by a diesel option later on. The 185-horsepower 2.4L inline-four and the 235-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder are already familiar to Hyundai owners, and they’ll both be tied to the company’s new 8-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile, both rear- and all-wheel drive will be offered across the range. The aforementioned turbodiesel 4-cylinder mill will sport a 2.2L displacement and 190 horsepower on tap. It’ll also offer up to 322 pound-feet of torque. Moreover, all diesel-equipped Santa Fe’s will come with a mandatory third row of seats, which is optional in other configurations. The Hyundai Santa Fe gets a $550-higher starting price in 2019 but adds more tech features into the mix. All contemporary connectivity options are now standard, and so are many advanced electronic safety systems. Hyundai sold 133,171 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport models in 2017 – a figure that’s bound to increase in the following years.
05. 2019 Tucson
True to their new strategy revolving around crossovers, the South Koreans have updated another of their offerings in the ever-growing segment. Unlike the all-new Santa Fe, the 2019 Hyundai Tucson has only gone through a mild mid-cycle refresh. Regardless, the South Korean automaker’s intent is clear. The compact had found 63,591, 89,713, and 114,735 new homes in the U.S. in 2015, 2016, and 2017 respectively, and that figure is poised to grow even further in the following years. Apart from new headlights, taillights, and foglights, the new Tucson also gets revised 16, 17, and 18-inch wheels depending on the chosen trim level. A more substantial revision inside means the compact crossover will now sport a floating touch-screen display, a completely revised dashboard, and a new seating layout.
The new Hyundai Tucson carries over its predecessor’s entry-level engine. The 2.0L inline-four unit will continue to offer 164 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque in the base SE models. Opt for the SEL, Sport, or Limited trim, and you’ll get a 2.4L inline-four engine capable of delivering up to 181 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of twist. Both engines are standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive, whereas all-wheel drive can be ordered as an option. This means that the 7-speed dual-clutch trans and 175-horsepower 1.6L turbocharged 4-cylinder are no longer available. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard from the get-go, and so is a 7-inch touchscreen display. An assortment of advanced safety features is also included, but in order to get the most of Tucson, you’ll have to go for the Limited trim. That way, you get adaptive cruise control, around-view monitor system, driver attention warning, and other nifty features like wireless phone charging, rain-sensing wipers, and a heated steering wheel.
04. 2019 Kona EV
After the conventional Kona debuted in time for MY 2018, the 2019 Hyundai Kona lineup is now getting a new addition. The all-new Kona Electric with a reported 250 miles of range and up to 117 MPGe according to the EPA, is supposed to become the new class-leading vehicle on the market in both of the reported parameters. All this is possible thanks to the compact’s 64 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack – the largest battery in any non-Tesla EV on the U.S. market. With the help of a 201-horsepower high-efficiency electric motor, which throws in 291 pound-feet of rotational force as a bonus, the EV Kona should be able to hit the 60 mph mark in some 7.5 seconds. Unlike the gasoline-powered models, though, every single Kona EV will be limited to front-wheel-drive only. Finally, the Koreans will also offer a more affordable 39 kWh version of the car with around 166 miles of range, but not in the states.
Apart from sporting the longest range in its class, the Hyundai Kona EV also boasts one of the quickest charging times among the non-Tesla electric cars. Although it’ll require up to standard 10 hours with the conventional Level 2 240-volt chargers, optional 50 kW and 100 kW Combined Charging System DC hardware will reduce the charging times to 75 or 54 minutes respectively (for 80 percent of the battery). Visually, the Hyundai Kona EV for 2019 differs up front from conventional models due to not sporting a conventional grille. Interior is slightly reworked on its own, but not beyond the regular EV unique gauge cluster and center console. The all-electric Kona should start from around $30,000 or thereabouts after the $7,500 tax credit has been accounted for.
03. 2019 Veloster N
The oddball kammback coupe was never one of Hyundai’s better-selling models, but it always had a certain appeal for the right buyer regardless. Now in its second generation, the new Hyundai Veloster for MY 2019 raises the bar in both the styling and performance categories. At the top of the ladder sits the all-new Veloster N performance version of the sport compact which is, incidentally, also the very first Hyundai’s N-branded car in the U.S. The up-and-coming N performance sub-badge will start emerging across the Hyundai lineup soon enough, but in 10, 20, or 30 years time, everyone will look back at the 2019 Veloster N hot hatch. Compared to the conventional Veloster, the N version boasts a unique red trim below the grille and on side skirts, as well as a unique set of colors including Performance Blue, Black, Red, and White. Ordered with the 18-wheel package, the Veloster N offers the Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber, whereas the optional 19-inch package warrants the wider Pirelli P Zero tires.
In a true hot hatch fashion, the 2019 Hyundai Veloster N cranks out as much as 275 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque thanks to a turbocharged 2.0L inline-four mill also found in the European-exclusive i30 N. It might be a front-wheel-drive only car, but at least it comes with a proper 6-speed manual gearbox. Not only that, it’s also fitted with an optional electronically controlled limited-slip differential. Adaptive dampers, a variable exhaust and launch control are also available as part of the optional Veloster N gear. Pricing still hasn’t been announced, but even the bare-bones Veloster N will hardly be available for any less than $30,000. Fully equipped units, on the other hand, will likely be pushing $40,000.
02. 2019 Sonata
It might not be the South Korean automaker’s best-selling vehicle, but it’s mighty close. The mid-size Sonata is also their oldest car currently in production, having spanned seven generations since 1985. The 2019 Sonata might build upon the recent early-mid-cycle refresh from 2018 by shuffling trim options and equipment, but any possible changes are expected to be minimal. The stylish, comfortable and spacious Sonata is now also more tech-savvy, but some shortcomings still haven’t been addressed. Interior materials, for example, feel somewhat better suited to affordable compacts while performance leaves something to be desired. Then again, the new Hyundai Sonata is still among the best cars in its class when everything is considered, and it comes with far more pros than cons in general.
The Hyundai Sonata for 2019 can be ordered with no less than three gasoline engines, not including the all-new plug-in hybrid option. The base engine is a 185-horsepower 2.4L 4-cylinder that’s standard across much of the board and tied to a 6-speed automatic transmission. High-end Sport and Limited models come with a 2.0L turbo four that’s capable of making 245 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, and mates to an 8-speed automatic unit. Last but not least, the Sonata Eco sports a 4-cylinder of its own. The 1.6L turbo four makes 178 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque and returns the best fuel economy among petrol models in the process (28/37 mpg). It’s offered with a 7-speed dual-clutch. Finally, the all-new Sonata hybrid and plug-in hybrid models combine a 2.0L internal combustion unit with an electric motor and a battery pack for a combined output of 193 horsepower and fuel economy of up to 45 mpg on the highway. A plug-in hybrid Sonata also offers 27 miles of all-electric range.
01. 2019 Elantra
The best-selling Hyundai model, with 198,210 units sold in the U.S. during 2017, is currently deep in its sixth-generation. The 2019 Elantra is about to undergo a mild mid-term revision which should see it receive new headlights and tail-lights as well as some other minor frontal fascia tweaks. Interior revisions are anyone’s guess at this point, but both Apple and Android car integration should be available from the entry-level from now on. Optional wireless charging and a new touchscreen display should become a part of the package as well. The entry-level Hyundai sedan starts from $14,500 and even the top Limited models fail to surpass the $20,000 mark. The compact sedan is, hence, one of the best value-for-money options out there, especially considering how the top tier trims offer more than a satisfying amount of convenience and tech gear.
As before, most Elantras will be ordered with a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine that’s good enough for 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of twist. The fuel-efficient Eco trim will be limited to a 1.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder with 128 hp and 156 pound-feet while the Sport grade gets a 1.6L turbo four mill good for 201 hp and 195 lb-ft. A 6-speed auto is standard across much of the board, minus the aforementioned Eco and Sport trims. The former of the two gets a 7-speed dual-clutch, while the latter sports a 6-speed stick instead. Although the Elantra fails to inspire as a car, no one can deny its practicality and affordability. Coupled with the already mentioned abundance of available gear at a more than reasonable price, the 2019 Hyundai Elantra will remain one of the best-buy packages out there, and one has to give it credit for that. Not to mention that one can be ordered as a hatchback too if you consider the Elantra GT a part of the Elantra lineup.
What’s Not In the New 2019 Hyundai Lineup
03. 2019 Nexo
The Hyundai Nexo crossover is an all-new Hyundai vehicle for MY 2019. As such, it’s definitely enticing, but we’ve still decided to file it under our “not” category. Why? The answer’s simple, really. The new car from Hyundai’s kitchen is an FCEV or fuel-cell electric vehicle. It’s not that we have anything against a car that’s using an alternative fuel source to what we’re accustomed to – quite the contrary! The problem is; the Nexo fails from a practicality standpoint. The hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure is still way underdeveloped and even the Nexo’s impressive 370-mile range won’t be enough for safe interstate travel. That’s why it’ll be offered exclusively in California before it expands to other states later on. If it does.
The 2019 Nexo is powered by a large 95 kW fuel-cell, an electric motor, and a 1.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack which together generate a total of 161 horses and 291 pound-feet of torque. As always, the air and hydrogen go in while the water goes out. Those would be the basics of it. The compact crossover is slow to accelerate since it requires no less than 9.5 seconds in order to hit 60 mph, but then again, it wasn’t built for speed. Taking the price of hydrogen into account, the Nexo is good enough for around 58 MPGe according to the EPA. It’s perfect as a commuter, but only if you have a fuel-cell station in a reasonable vicinity to your home. Otherwise, it’s easily beaten by any other EV, plug-in, or even conventional hybrid out there. Especially considering it’ll start from around $55,000 before the incentives.
02. 2019 Accent
Even with the starting price of $13,500, the subcompact Accent is still not among the best-selling Hyundai cars. Total U.S. sales for 2017 have fallen under the 60,000-unit mark. Meanwhile, the Accent has undergone a full makeover in 2018 which should make it much more appealing to the eye, but hardly that much better overall. What’s more, the all-new Accent is now offered exclusively as a 4-door sedan. Hatchbacks are now only available north and south of the border, in Canada and Mexico respectively. The 2019 Hyundai Accent is still poorly equipped and noisy on rough pavement, but its ride quality is decent. Maxing out the $19,000 Limited model should give you both a capable and well-equipped daily commuter but otherwise, you’ll feel like you’re still driving a 5-year-old car.
The new Accent is still powered by a 1.6L inline-four making 130 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque. It’s obviously underpowered and slow to accelerate, but then again, the subcompact was never built for speed. It was built for commuting and as such, the Accent returns 28/37 mpg with a 6-speed manual standard in entry-level models or 28/38 mpg with a 6-speed auto that’s standard across the rest of the range. There are otherwise precious few areas where this budget car excels. Especially when we take the level of available tech into consideration. Still, even the base Accent will offer you a standard rearview camera, cruise control, and Bluetooth connectivity.
01. 2019 Ioniq
The compact Ioniq is more than a mere fuel-saving economy liftback. It’s actually three cars in one shell and that’s probably its biggest advantage. Like before, the 2019 Hyundai Ioniq can be ordered either a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, or an all-electric vehicle. Contemporary as it may sound, the Ioniq fails to live up to its spectacular introduction. It’s lacking passenger space (especially around the back), the battery severely impacts cargo space, and ride quality leaves a lot to be desired. Despite sporting a number of plasticky bits inside, one can’t fault it given its starting price of some $22,000 for the conventional hybrid. The plug-in Ioniq is also rather affordable, starting from just under $25,000, whereas the Ioniq EV costs at least $29,500.
Both the Ioniq hybrid and plug-in hybrid are powered by the same 139-horsepower system consisting of a 1.6L 4-cylinder engine, a 43-horsepower electric motor (60-hp motor in a plug-in) and a battery pack. The battery pack in question differs between the two, however. The conventional Ioniq hybrid gets a smaller 1.56 kWh unit, whereas the plug-in version benefits from an 8.9 kWh pack. The former is good enough for up to 58 mpg combined, while the latter boasts a 24-mile all-electric range. Finally, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric sports a 118-horsepower electric motor and a 28-kWh lithium-polymer battery pack for the total range of up to 124 miles. A lower mileage than what its competitors offer to be sure, but at least the Ioniq’s energy consumption rates at 136 MPGe.