Hyundai redesigned the SUV’s rear end for the Chinese market

You should know by now that many European or U.S. vehicles are launched with longer wheelbases in China. Sadly, most of them aren’t available outside this country. Hyundai recently jumped on the bandwagon with a slightly longer variant of the Santa Fe, but there’s more to this SUV than a few extra inches between the front and rear axles. Hyundai went wild and completely redesigned the rear end.

The Chinese Santa Fe Has a New Rear End

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Hyundai went with unique taillights that includes C-shaped lights at the corners and a full-width light bar at the bottom

It’s not uncommon for automakers to design unique features for vehicles sold in different markets, but the Santa Fe is a notable exception. Hyundai went pretty far with it and redesigned the rear fascia from top to bottom. The rear window and the tailgate spoiler are identical to the U.S. model, but the taillights are completely new. Instead of the rather traditional horizontal taillights that become narrower toward the tailgate, Hyundai went with a unique layout that includes C-shaped lights at the corners and a full-width light bar at the bottom. It looks as if the taillights were designed to frame the upper section of the tailgate.

This design is somewhat based on the Telluride. The big SUV also has C-shaped taillights, but the lower corners do not extend into the tailgate, and the lower light bar is missing. Inspired by the Telluride or not, these taillights look really cool and are a big improvement over the U.S. model. Would you like to see them on the U.S.-spec Santa Fe? Let me know in the comments section, because I sure would!

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Hyundai also altered the rear section of the cabin

But the big changes don’t stop to the taillights. The central fascia is much cleaner now, as the license plate recess was moved into the bumper. The tailgate is also taller, as it now it extends all the way down to the apron. The red lights in the bumper were also revised. The large U.S.-spec lights at the corners were replaced with slimmer units that extend toward the fenders. Likewise, the diffuser is much sportier with a pair of vents at the top and exhaust pipes at the lower corners.

More importantly, Hyundai also altered the rear section of the cabin. While the U.S. version has an aggressive kink in the quarter windows, the Chinese SUV features bigger windows and thinner D-pillars. This design gives the Santa Fe a more utilitarian look.

Why is it Different?

Hyundai Santa Fe U.S. vs China Comparison: Which Taillights Look Better?
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The China-spec Santa Fe wasn’t designed by Hyundai alone.

It's the result of a joint-venture between the Korean brand and Beijing Motor and the Chinese half of the business wanted to adapt the SUV to engage with the needs of Chinese consumers.

This is a common scenario for vehicles assembled in China, like all the foreign automakers that open factories there are bound to enter joint-ventures with local manufacturers. Some automakers, like BMW and Buick, designed models that are unique to this market. BMW, for instance, builds a sedan version of the 1 Series in China and it doesn’t offer it in other countries. Probably Beijing Motor simply believes that the U.S. version of the Santa Fe wouldn’t be as successful in China. And it’s not just about design, Hyundai also added fingerprint access and engine start feature. The wheelbase is also four inches longer of extra legroom.

A Preview of the Future?

Hyundai Santa Fe U.S. vs China Comparison: Which Taillights Look Better?
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While these taillights may be unique to the China-spec Santa Fe, they could be a preview of things to come. After all, they’re somewhat similar to the Telluride, so Hyundai may transfer this design to other vehicles in the near future. Several nameplates will be redesigned or facelifted soon, and the C-shaped lights with the horizontal bar may very well appear on other SUVs and hatchbacks.

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe - U.S. Drivetrain Dimensions

2.4L 2.0L 2.2L Diesel
Type Theta-II 2.4 GDI, 16-valve, DOHC, 4-cylinder in-line Theta-II 2.0 T-GDI, DOHC D-CVVT (Dual Continuously Variable Valve
Timing) 4-cylinder
R 2.2, 16-valve MLA, DOHC, 4-cylinder in-line
Turbo Type Twin Scroll
Materials Aluminum block and head Aluminum block and head
Bore & stroke (mm) 88 x 97 86 x 86 85.4 x 96
Compression ratio 11.3:1 10.0:1 16.0: 1
Displacement 2.4 liters / 2,359 cc 2.0 liters / 1,998 cc 2.2 liters
Horsepower 185 HP @ 6,000 RPM (est.) 235 HP @ 6,000 RPM 190 HP @ 3,800 RPM
Torque 178 LB-FT @ 4,000 RPM (est.) 260 LB-FT @ 1,450 3,500 RPM 322 LB-FT @ 1,750 - 2,500 RPM
Valves per cylinder 4 4 4

Further reading

Hyundai Santa Fe U.S. vs China Comparison: Which Taillights Look Better?
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Read our full review on the 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe.

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