2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Review: Boxy rebrand is a style and utility winner


Pros: Design is upscale and eye-catching; interior space is spectacular; it’s a tech powerhouse

Cons: Transmission can be unsmooth at times; no sporty intentions; meager cargo space when using third row

The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe is a legitimately cool vehicle. That isn’t something we’ve been able to say about any Santa Fe up until now, and it’s all thanks to the Hyundai design department putting in some astounding work with this latest iteration of the three-row SUV. Its resemblance to Land Rovers of years past is uncanny, but even though it reminds of other SUVs, the box-like design is still plenty personal to and fitting with Hyundai. From the funky rear end to the massive windows and pixel lights, this Santa Fe is undoubtedly going to turn heads.

Its hybrid powertrain gives folks looking for efficiency a great option, maxing out at 36 mpg combined, and the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine is a torque monster that can tow up to 4,500 pounds in the off-road-centric XRT trim. Speaking of, the added lift and all-terrain tires on this model make it a nice option for those hoping to hit some rougher roads on their way to the campsite. Hyundai’s made the Santa Fe’s interior a lovely spot for all seven passengers, too, provided those in the third row are children or smaller adults. Its square shape gives it spectacular utility, though you won’t be fitting much behind the third row. If you want a more usable third row and space behind it, the Hyundai Palisade is lying in wait, but as it stands, the Santa Fe is a stylish and utilitarian three-row with a solid value argument to boot.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it’s like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What’s new for 2024?

The Santa Fe is a totally new, redesigned model for 2024. It’s vastly different than the outgoing Santa Fe, as the SUV takes on a whole new character for this generation.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe LimitedIMG 38872

What are the Santa Fe’s interior and in-car technology like?

The Santa Fe’s Land Rover-like boxy design on the outside translates to the inside, as huge windows make for excellent visibility in all directions. It’s far classier inside than you’d expect for its price, made all the better when you select the two-tone green and cream or Pecan Brown (above, bottom left) interior options on upper trims.

The steering wheel also looks like it was ripped right out of a Land Rover, as do the squared-off air vents (that mimic the headlight design) and angled climate control screen flanked by temperature dials for the driver and passenger. The large center console area – provided you spec a higher trim – has two dedicated wireless charging pads for a pair of smartphones (a rarity, and some of the best wireless phone chargers we’ve ever used), and the cubby under the armrest opens from either the front or back.

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A curved display houses a pair of 12.3-inch screens, one for the gauges and another for the Hyundai Group’s latest multimedia system that gets wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. To the right, there are two gloveboxes: a top one behind the dash panel with an optional UV-C sterilization compartment (it uses UV light to sterilize small items) and a more traditional one by the passenger’s knees. This is in addition to deep door pockets that’ll hold huge water bottles and storage space under the center console.

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How big is the Santa Fe?

The Santa Fe is another three-row Hyundai SUV (like the Palisade), but it’s notably smaller with the big restrictions being third-row space and cargo capacity, particularly when the third row is raised.

That said, you’ll find generous accommodations for first- and second-row passengers, with that boxy design lending itself to mega headroom. Getting into the third row is kind of a hassle, since the seats don’t slide forward enough, but once you manage to wedge yourself back there, the amount of space is just a touch less than what you’ll find in a Palisade. Your biggest annoyance in the way-back may well be the height of the seats that leave your knees pointing upwards. The remaining cargo space behind that third row is just plain tiny, much like the mechanically related Kia Sorento that has similar exterior dimensions. If that’s a problem, loading extra stuff on the raised roof rails is uniquely aided by grab handles in the C pillars that help you hoist yourself up while standing on the rear tire.

IMG 390322022 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV Limited 031

Put the third row down, and you’ll enjoy plentiful space at 40.5 cubic feet. Drop the second row, and that expands to a cavernous 79.6 cubic feet. Loading items into the Santa Fe’s cargo area is uniquely pleasant, too, because Hyundai specifically set out to design a hatch with as wide an opening as possible by installing the hatch struts low on the body where you’d normally find taillights. Look at the extra load width utility on offer side-by-side with the previous-gen Santa Fe (comparison above), and you’ll start to understand why this new one has such a funky rear-end design.

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What are the Santa Fe’s fuel economy and performance specs?

There are two powertrain options for the Santa Fe, with the standard model being equipped with a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that shifts via an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Output from the engine is rated at 277 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional on every trim level except for the XRT, where AWD is standard. Fuel economy for the FWD model is listed at 20 miles per gallon city, 29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. That drops to 20/28/23 mpg with AWD. Meanwhile, the XRT trim takes an efficiency hit thanks to its all-terrain tires and lifted stance, down to 19/26/22 mpg.

As for the hybrid, that powertrain consists of a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, single electric motor and six-speed automatic transmission. Combined output is rated at 231 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque, and you can choose either front- or all-wheel drive. Of course, the “upgrade” here is all about fuel economy, as the hybrid is rated at 36 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 36 mpg combined. Opting for AWD drops those down to 35/34/34 mpg.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe XRT

What’s the Santa Fe like to drive?

Both powertrain options offer smooth power delivery and enough oomph to get the Santa Fe out of its own way. But at higher speeds – or if you find a winding side road – the less-powerful hybrid setup can feel anemic, especially during mid-range acceleration. The more powerful 2.5-liter turbo setup really feels like the best option, able to move the large Santa Fe with greater confidence. It doesn’t sound half bad either, with a respectable growl.

The Santa Fe is plenty nice to drive, with decent steering and controlled body manners, but there’s nothing sporty about it. You sit high behind the steering wheel, and there’s a commanding view down the long, flat hood that – yep – kind of has a Land Rover vibe. Fitted with 21-inch wheels, the Santa Fe transmits some of the bigger bumps and blemishes through to the cabin, but the smaller 18-inch wheels and higher-sidewall tires smooth things out beautifully.

As for the off-road-leaning XRT, we’re pleased to report that the extra height and the chunkier all-terrain tires don’t really change the pavement experience, at least not in any significant way. On the gravel and dirt roads, what is pretty impressive is how comfortable and stable the Santa Fe feels. For the hills, the Santa Fe cruises up easily, with the all-wheel-drive lock adding some extra traction. With that said, things could get jerky on the 1-2 upshift. Between being a dual-clutch transmission that has to balance clutch slipping and the turbocharged powertrain, it’s not the smoothest to change.

What other Hyundai Santa Fe reviews can I read?

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe XRT First Drive Review: Sweet spot off the beaten path

We spend a day both on- and off-road in the rugged XRT trim of the Santa Fe lineup.

 

What is the 2024 Santa Fe’s price?

The 2024 Santa Fe starts at $35,345 for its base SE trim with the 2.5-turbo and front-wheel drive. We’d recommend stepping up to at least the $37,845 SEL model that adds nice-to-haves like a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and roof rails. If you want the aforementioned (and highly recommended) green interior, though, you’ll need to step up to the Limited or Calligraphy trims.

The XRT model is an interesting proposition at $41,995 with its 1.5 inches of extra ground clearance, all-terrain tires, standard AWD, extra 1,000 pounds of towing capacity (4,500-pound max) and unique exterior appearance.

If you’re going for maximum efficiency, the Hybrid starts at $38,345 for the SEL model, which makes it only a smidge more expensive than the gas-only model. The most expensive version you can opt for is a Calligraphy Hybrid with AWD for $50,195 before options/accessories.

We’ve listed all the versions and their base prices below. Add $1,800 to any of the following to get the price with AWD.

  • SE: $35,345
  • SEL: $37,845
  • XRT: $41,995
  • Limited: $44,745
  • Calligraphy: $47,895
  • SEL Hybrid: $38,345
  • Limited Hybrid: $45,245
  • Calligraphy Hybrid: $48,395

What are the Santa Fe’s safety ratings and driver assistance features?

The Santa Fe comes with a huge number of standard driver assistance features including forward collision avoidance assist (pedestrian, cyclist and junction turning detection), blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, lane-following assist, front and rear parking sensors, rear occupant alert and safe exit alert. Step up to higher trims and even more features come into the fold, like Hyundai’s Blind View Monitor, blind spot collision avoidance assist, forward attention warning, navigation-based adaptive cruise, Hyundai’s Highway Driving Assist 2, 360-degree camera, side parking sensors and Remote Smart Parking Assist.

The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe received a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, scoring Good ratings on every crash test except the moderate overlap front test, where it scored a Moderate rating. The only available headlights scored an Acceptable rating. The NHTSA has not yet tested a 2024 Santa Fe.

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