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2024 Hyundai Santa Fe: Dual Personality Experience

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe: Dual Personality Experience

Hyundai continues its string of hits with the all-new 2024 Santa Fe. Choose rugged trim with the XRT, or kick back in true luxury in top trim Calligraphy.

Pursuitist was invited to Franklin, Tennessee to drive the new Santa Fe, and we left the media drive incredibly impressed with the Sport-Ute.

The first Santa Fe bowed in 2000 and was a competent but fairly homely SUV. Well, things have changed in a big way. The new, three-row, fifth-generation model checks all of the boxes – style, comfort, convenience, and safety in a very affordable, six-or-seven-seat package. Oh, and it’s also a legit off-roader – more on that later.

“The original Santa Fe was our very first SUV in the U.S. more than two decades ago,” said José Muñoz, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor North America. “Today, we have a well-recognized and respected portfolio of 14 SUV models that include internal combustion engine, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, and hydrogen fuel cell electric models. With the 2024 Santa Fe, we continue our impressive transformation of the Hyundai brand and the broader SUV landscape. Our newest Santa Fe will attract even more customers with its bold, distinctive design identity, spacious interior design, and unique ability to fuse urban customer lifestyles with the natural outside environment.”

Santa Fe Styling

The new Santa Fe has a Land Rover Defender 110-like profile, and that’s a good thing.

Starting up front, H-shaped headlamps, connected with an LED grille light bar, along with a high hood and sharply defined fenders, make a strong statement.  Below the light matrix, a pair of active air flaps open and close based on aerodynamics and additional engine cooling needs.

The side profile is where Santa Fe really shines, as it’s longer and wider than the outgoing 2023 model.  A longer wheelbase contributes to a rugged look and features aggressive wheel arches and aerodynamics aids including underbody covers, and sleeker mirrors, and side glass. Santa Fe sports a low .29 coefficient of drag (CD) that’s 11 percent lower than the 2023 model. On the upper “C” pillar, a grab handle can be accessed by pressing a panel helping you safely gain access to the bridge-type roof rack.

Depending on trim, 18-inch, 20-inch, and 21-inch alloy wheels with Yokohama GEOLANDER or Pirelli Scorpion tires are available.

From the rear, the wider and taller liftgate maximizes access for cargo loading. The 2023 Santa Fe’s rear opening is 30-inches tall and 44.5-inches wide. The 2024 model measures in at 32-inches tall and 50.2-inches wide. That’s an impressive 5.7-inch width difference. As the new rear hatch is wider, taller and heavier, specially developed gas hatch struts were engineered to handle the load. The hatch raises so high that all 6’9” of me can stand underneath with my hair barely brushing the hatch glass. I have NEVER been able to do that in any hatchback vehicle!

H-shaped taillamps, like the headlamps, complete a cohesive design theme that’s attractive from all angles.

Interior Design

Santa Fe’s all-new interior continues the H-signature design via ambient lighting across the lower dash and on corner air vents, continuing a well-integrated design balance.

Eco-friendly materials are used throughout Santa Fe’s interior for soft surfaces, such as the headliner, seatbacks, and various covering materials; such as the instrument panel, door trim, and seats. The use of eco-friendly materials extends to the exterior as well as the glossy black paint applied to exterior trim panels uses recycled carbon. Among the interior colors, Ecotronic Gray uses a natural bamboo charcoal-coating method.

With the longer wheelbase, Santa Fe offers increased legroom, and third-row passengers get more shoulder space thanks to the wider interior. During the media presentation, Hyundai highlighted the versatility of the fully foldable second- and third-row seats through design concept images. When both rows are folded, it creates enough space for an inflatable mattress or cool lounging area during campground visits, tailgating events, or when you just want to chill out. Both rows feature cup holders and USB ports, and the third row has a 115-volt power outlet.

Hang some cool lights from the high lift hatch, and power up the available Bose 12-speaker premium sound system for an outdoor party. The design concept study used lifestyle data to identify consumer interest in the latest outdoor lifestyle trends, such as car camping and gear-intensive outdoor adventures.

Interior Comfort, Convenience, and Technology

Santa Fe’s interior was a very pleasant surprise. Blindfold someone who hasn’t seen Santa Fe in person or in photos, sit them behind the steering wheel, and remove their blindfold. They won’t believe they’re in a Hyundai!

Santa Fe’s interior, even in base trim, is pretty darn luxurious. Want even more luxury? Top Calligraphy trim offers a Relaxation Comfort driver’s seat with an airline business-class style leg rest, premium diamond-stitched Nappa Leather seats with power-adjustable second-row Captain’s Chairs (six-seat configuration- SE through Limited trims offer second-row bench seats), and a dual-panel glass sunroof.

In addition, a UV-C sterilization compartment is available in Santa Fe’s upper glove compartment; providing ultraviolet light-based sterilization of frequently-used items such as cell phones, wallets, glasses, and similarly sized items. They’ll also gaze at the available camera-based digital rearview mirror.

A Surround View monitor allows for multiple vehicle image view angles (example-overhead view). A cool fingerprint scanner is part of the Digital Key 2 portfolio which allows for vehicle access, startup, and remote control via the owners’ smartphone. Hyundai Pay, which enables paying for parking and fueling from inside the vehicle, is also available.

Available Over-The-Air (OTA) updates can update vehicle systems with the latest available software by wirelessly updating Santa Fe without a Hyundai service center visit.

The center console features a dual wireless charging tray. Space for the double-wide tray was created by moving the shift lever from the console to behind the steering wheel. The center console also features a standard dual-hinged opening mechanism that allows both front and rear passengers to access the front center console, making it easier for second-row occupants to also access what they need. Wired/wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard, while a 27-watt USB-C terminal and a third-row USB port are also available.

Drive Experience

Driving Santa Fe was a dual personality experience, with both personalities on point. On smooth roads, Santa Fe is quiet and comfortable. We only drove Calligraphy trims during our test drive, but there’s no reason to doubt that all Santa Fe’s exhibit the same smooth traits. Expect the rugged XRT trim to be a wee bit noisier, as it features standard 18-inch wheels and all-terrain Yokohama GEOLANDER tires. Our test rig also handled curvy roads with aplomb.

Until the hybrid model arrives, all trims are powered by a four-cylinder, turbocharged engine outputting 277 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, coupled to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Choose from Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) or HTRAC (Hyundai TRACtion All Wheel Drive-AWD) for all trims but XRT, which is available in AWD only. XRT models also feature an enhanced engine cooling system allowing for a 4,500-pound towing capacity versus 3,500 pounds for all other trims.

Our drive on a special trail course highlighted the impressive off-road capabilities Santa Fe possesses. HTRAC AWD monitors 50 vehicle inputs over 100 times per second to calculate the torque needed for each wheel. If it detects slippage, HTRAC reroutes power between the front and rear axles and applies subtle braking pressure to the left and right wheels to help you maintain traction. A new Terrain Mode Selector features settings for driving in snow, sand, and mud. The selector knob shares duties with the Drive Mode Selector – which offers Comfort, Sport, and Smart drive settings.

The HTRAC system works very well.

Steep muddy and rock-strewn inclines, side-to-side moguls, water ditches, and steep declines were all part of the course. Headed uphill, we chose “Mud” mode on the Terrain Mode Selector. We also selected Hill Descent Control (HDC) for the steep declines.

Fuel economy is decent in both drivelines with FWD models returning 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined. AWD models are just a tad thirstier with 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined.


Hyundai tossed in the proverbial “kitchen sink” with the new Santa Fe as it offers a host of driving assistance and safety features that can help reduce user fatigue and provide a comfortable, confident driving experience.

Available features such as Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist can help provide a warning and emergency braking if the preceding vehicle suddenly slows or if the risk of a forward collision is detected.

Lane Following Assist employs a windshield-mounted camera to help the vehicle maintain its position in the center of its lane. During our drive, the system was useful and unobtrusive.

The Driver Attention Warning system analyzes driving inputs and can help provide warnings to alert an inattentive driver.

Forward Attention Warning, a Hyundai first in North America, utilizes an infrared camera mounted on the steering column to help track a driver’s eye gaze and monitor attention levels to help ensure safe driving.

Available Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control helps maintain a safe speed while navigating various curves on the main section of a highway, while Highway Driving Assist helps maintain a select speed and distance from the vehicle ahead while assisting with lane changes on a highway and can further help center the vehicle in the lane while driving.

Additional Santa Fe driver assistance and safety features include Intelligent Speed Limit Assist, Rear View Monitor, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Front and Rear Parking Distance Warning, available Surround View Monitor, available Remote Smart Parking Assist, and Safe Exit Assist.

When you engage the turn signals, cameras on each side view mirror display the side view in the driver cluster display.

Very cool and useful safety tech!

Hyundai currently has seven Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) “Top Safety Pick” and “Top Safety Pick+” designations across its model lines. Expect the 2024 Santa Fe to also be a part of this impressive safety club.


The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe is the complete package. Hyundai is forecasting sales success with both the non-hybrid and hybrid models.

Starting MSRPs are as follows:

  • SE FWD $33,950 – AWD $35,750
  • SEL FWD $36,450 – AWD $38,250
  • XRT AWD $40,600
  • Limited FWD $43,350 – AWD $45,150
  • Calligraphy FWD $46.500 – AWD $48,300
  • Add a $1,395 Freight Charge to all trims

Based on how terrific this new SUV is, with these super-reasonable price points, we see no reason to question their forecast. Well done Hyundai!

All 2024 Santa Fe models are built in America at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama.