Hyundai has been on a styling tear over the past few years, and it continues with the 2024 Santa Fe.
After the automaker showed off its design last month, it brought a group of journalists including TFL Studios to get hands-on with the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe in (where else?) Santa Fe, New Mexico.
By and large, the fifth-generation Santa Fe is like no other model that’s come before. It takes on bold and boxy new styling that’s in vogue for chunky, lifestyle SUVs. The design team took it further than that, though, incorporating nice attention-to-detail touches that really make this car stand out from your ordinary midsize family hauler — more on that in a moment.
When it does arrive here in the first half of 2024, the new Santa Fe will still rock two familiar powertrains for the North American market. We’ll still get a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four powering the gas models, putting out the same 277 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque through an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. The Santa Fe Hybrid, shown here, gets a 1.6-liter turbo engine coupled with an electric motor, putting out 177 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque through a 6-speed automatic. Front- and all-wheel drive will be available across the lineup, though we’ll get more information on the trim walk and pricing closer to launch.
European buyers will get a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter option as well as a plug-in hybrid version, but the automaker did not announce immediate plans to bring either of those powertrains into the new-generation Santa Fe in North America or Korea.
Styling: Head-turning, or a bit much?
Of course, the bulk of Hyundai’s changes to the Santa Fe center around the dramatic styling changes, inside and out. The exterior sports a few remarkable touches, apart from simply talking about the boxy shape. The front and rear fascia get H-shaped running lights connected by a horizontal light bar.
Another distinctive piece of the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe is the rear tailgate design. Chief designer SangYup Lee mentioned his team actually designed it from the rear end forward, with a hallmark feature being the nearly full-width tailgate. The rear gate (shown in our longer-form video below) uses long struts on the outer edges, making use of a “gray zone” design area that would otherwise restrict the available loading width to actually get items in the back.
Overall, the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe rides on a 110.8-inch wheelbase and measures out to 190.2 inches long, 74.8 inches wide and 68.1 inches tall (or 70.1 inches, with the roof rack). Those figures translate to a new model that’s about 1.8 inches longer on a 1.9-inch longer wheelbase. Since the new model is physically larger than the old car (though still about 6.5 inches shorter than the Palisade), both legroom and headroom have improved by anywhere from 0.6 inches to 2.7 inches in terms of legroom and headroom across the second and third rows.
Hyundai integrated one more unique feature into the C-pillar on each side of the new Santa Fe.
There’s a rectangular, inward-folding door that actually works as a grab handle to make it easier to get to the roof rack, should you mount a rooftop box, bicycles or whatever else atop the car. Rather than having to grab the roof rack itself or perch yourself with a hand on the door while standing on the rear sills, the handle is a neat idea to make loading and unloading in that space easier. And if you don’t want random folks to be able to easily reach your stuff, Hyundai thought of that by putting a hidden key lock just in front of the handle itself, hidden by the rear doors.
Looking inside the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
Move beyond the exterior styling and large 20-inch wheels (21-inchers are available in this generation, because who doesn’t love large wheels?), we get to the interior.
If you’ve seen the brand-new Kona or the overseas Grandeur sedan, then you have some idea of what to expect in terms of design language. You get a pair of 12.3-inch screens for your instrument cluster and infotainment displays, as well as revamped climate controls and dual wireless charging pads on higher-end models. You also get USB ports aplenty and a plethora of driver assistance technology. Foreward Collision-Avoidance Assist 2 (automatic braking), Lane Following Assist Two, Driver Attention Warning, navigation-based adaptive cruise control, Safe Exit Assist, Remote Smart Parking Assist (or ‘Smaht Pahk’, if you remember that shtick) — it’s all here.
The “Panoramic Curved Display” is obviously front and center, but Hyundai also incorporated a few subtler touches on the interior, much the same as they did with the exterior. Hyundai’s Digital Key 2 will let you get into and start the car with the phone in your pocket the entire time, rather than having to still take it out as you did with the earlier iteration. The glovebox actually has a UV-C sterilization tray for your smartphone or anything else you drop into it, too.
The return of the third row
The added size in this new generation also prompted Hyundai to reintroduce the third row seating to the Santa Fe. You’ll be able to get either a second-row bench or the captain’s chairs shown above, opening up seating for up to seven people. While you still probably wouldn’t want to put adults on that third row for longer trips, the scalloped roof offers up that extra headroom so it’s a bit more bearable for short to moderate trips.
For the 2024 Santa Fe, Hyundai is also offering its “Relaxation Seating” for the first and second rows. Basically, that lets you lay almost fully reclined to rest like you can in the front of the Ioniq 5, without interfering too much with the next row back.
Will there be a more rugged model?
While the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe should get a familiar trim walk and will include the luxurious Calligraphy trim, there’s one area into which we haven’t delved yet: off-roading. That’s where this XRT Concept may come in, as it brings a ton of goodies to make the Santa Fe a more appealing prospect off the beaten track.
That said, Hyundai didn’t actually share any specific details about this car at the moment, and we could only take a look at it from the outside. Hyundai says it’s meant to “handle challenging terrains with confidence and ease”, though it’s not clear how much engineering will go toward backing up those claims when you’re actually out on some trails. At any rate, it looks like this possible Santa Fe XRT will be more than just an appearance package. So, expect it to be less of a soft-roader than the current car, but perhaps still not as truck-like and “I’ll go anywhere I damn well please” off-road capable as, say, a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk.
While it won’t go on sale for a few more months, you will get an opportunity to see it at this year’s LA Auto Show. Stay tuned for more details by then, since we’ll probably have concrete trim and pricing information in our hands.
In the meantime, check out the video below to see more (the XRT Concept video will publish on TFLnow tomorrow morning, August 11)!