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How Hyundai's Audacity Succeded With The 2024 Santa Fe: Review

To properly celebrate the 25th year of the Santa Fe, Hyundai has come up with an SUV that stands out from all its predecessors. In the past, this strategy has served the Korean company well — think of the Sonata, the Elantra, and the Tucson.

The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe ditches its familiar look for something completely unexpected. Gone are the smooth curves, replaced by a bold, boxy design that's sure to turn heads. This dramatic shift of the 2024 Santa Fe is more than just aesthetic; it reflects a new focus on functionality for the adventurous driver. The addition of a third-row seat, increased cargo space, and a wide tailgate all cater to those who crave exploration. In fact, the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe is one of the top 5 safest affordable hybrid SUVs.

With rooftop tents and bulky gear in mind, the 2024 Santa Fe is built to handle your outdoor excursions. Powering this transformation is a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine with plenty of muscle. We'll be focusing on this gasoline-powered Calligraphy trim, while the Santa Fe Hybrid offers a more fuel-efficient option.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe's Changes and Exterior

Let's start with the outside. The Santa Fe has a much bolder look now. The wheelbase is longer, giving the car a more stretched-out appearance. The front end sticks out less, making it look sleeker. Most importantly, there's a third row of seats now, perfect for families or road trips with extra passengers.

But the changes in the 2024 Santa Fe aren't just cosmetic. The interior has been completely revamped too. The cabin is much more spacious and comfortable, with high-quality materials throughout.

If you choose the Calligraphy trim, which I have been test-driving at Torque News for this review, you'll get the top-of-the-line features. The seats are wrapped in luxurious Nappa leather and have ample padding for long rides. The driver's seat even has a special "relaxation mode" with a retractable footrest – perfect for taking a break at a rest stop.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe, side exterior design

I think the 2024 Santa Fe's boxy exterior takes inspiration from Land Rover and wraps around a more modern cabin. Sharp angles, straight lines and a floating roof give the model a rugged yet modern look, and the “H” pattern of the lighting signature is unique to the Santa Fe. 

The SUV retains its place in the lineup between the Tucson (compact) and the Palisade (a slightly larger midsize), but it offers three rows of seats as standard. The hatch is impressively large, offering a larger opening, leading to what Hyundai calls a terrace-like interior space. 

Under the hood, the Calligraphy packs a punch with a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine. It delivers plenty of power for merging onto highways or tackling hills. All-wheel drive is standard, giving you extra confidence in bad weather or on slippery roads.

2024 Santa Fe's Trims and Pricing

The 2024 Santa Fe offers a range of trims to suit different needs and budgets. It comes in SE, SEL, XRT, Limited and Calligraphy trims. The base SE starts at $35,365, offering the essentials. Stepping up to the SEL for $37,865 brings additional comfort and convenience features. The XRT, priced at $42,015, caters to those who want a sportier look and feel. For luxury seekers, the Limited trim offers premium upgrades for $44,765. The top-of-the-line Calligraphy we're reviewing here comes in at $50,375, with all the options included and offering the most features and technology.

Engine, Transmission and Power

The 2024 Santa Fe ditches the need for multiple engine options.  From the previous generation, only two powertrains are retained for the 2024 Santa Fe. The base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and the plug-in hybrid powertrain are eliminated, with no plans for the automaker to bring them back for now.

Every non-hybrid trim gets a single, strong heart: a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 277 horsepower. This engine packs a punch, providing satisfying acceleration for merging or tackling hills – perfectly adequate for an SUV of this size. Power delivery is smooth; the turbo mostly stays quiet, only making its presence known when you push the Santa Fe hard.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe's engine

Hyundai prioritizes a comfortable ride over sporty handling. The Santa Fe absorbs bumps and road imperfections with ease, making it a great choice for long journeys. If you crave a more exciting driving experience with three rows of seats, then the Mazda CX-90 might be a better fit for you.

Hyundai says the new Santa Fe will be able to tow up to 4500 pounds.

Santa Fe 2024's Interior

The larger exterior dimensions of the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe translate into a more spacious interior and those three rows of seats. You'll be impressed by the new model's features, space and design. A rotary column shifter located on the steering wheel frees up space in the center console. 

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe's second row seating

The cabin is full of other premium touches such as a power-adjustable steering column. The materials are impressively high-quality and there is plenty of space in the second and even third rows, which are capable of accommodating adults. You have the choice of a six- or seven-seat configuration. 

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe's 3rd row seating

Behind, the cargo capacity is truly impressive. The second and third rows fold virtually flat and the huge tailgate is designed for maximum opening with its hydraulic arms arranged on the outside to maximize space. Unsurprisingly, the load volume increases. With all the bench seats up, 413 liters are available. With the third row folded down, the volume increases to 1148 liters, while with all the seats reclined, 2267 liters are available. Overall, this is better than the old model, which increased its volume from 1031 to 2041 liters with the bench seat lowered.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe's cargo space

However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The third-row seating isn't quite as roomy as some competitors. Also, while the engine is powerful, it can get a bit noisy when pushed hard.

Santa Fe's Infotainment

The 2024 Santa Fe throws you into the future with a dual-screen infotainment setup. Dominating the dashboard are two massive 12.3-inch displays. One acts as a digital gauge cluster, keeping you informed about speed, navigation, and other driving essentials.

The other is a touchscreen dedicated to infotainment, allowing you to control music, climate, and access all the Santa Fe's features. Thankfully, Hyundai hasn't ditched physical buttons entirely. Climate control and audio volume knobs remain, offering a familiar and easy-to-use way to adjust settings on the go.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe infotainment and interior

Keeping your devices juiced up is easy. The Santa Fe offers an optional dual wireless charging pad, perfect for keeping both your phone and passenger's phone powered. For wired connections, there are also USB-C ports. Connecting your phone is a breeze with standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Santa Fe even offerss a hidden gem – a UV-C sterilization compartment in the glovebox. This nifty feature eliminates germs from your phone, wallet, or other small items, keeping your travels hygienic.

The Calligraphy Trim That I Test-Drove For This Review

While all Santa Fe trims offer the same powerful engine, the Calligraphy sets itself apart with premium flourishes. Stepping up from the Limited trim, the Calligraphy pampers you with luxurious Nappa leather seats and a driver's seat with a special relaxation mode that includes a retractable footrest. The Calligraphy also offers a 12-inch head-up display and a camera-based rearview mirror, features not found on lower trims. These upgrades make the Calligraphy the most comfortable and tech-laden option in the Santa Fe lineup.

How the 2024 Santa Fe Calligraphy Stacks Up:

While the Santa Fe Calligraphy offers a compelling package, it's worth considering its strengths against top competitors in the mid-size SUV segment:

  1. Honda Pilot:
    • Advantage: More Spacious Third Row: If maximizing passenger space is crucial, the Pilot offers a roomier third row, particularly for adults.
  2. Toyota Highlander:
    • Advantage: Hybrid Option & Reliability Reputation: The Highlander offers a fuel-efficient hybrid option, appealing to eco-conscious buyers. Toyota's reputation for reliability might also sway some towards the Highlander.
  3. Kia Telluride:
    • Advantage: More Cargo Space & Standard V6 Engine: The Telluride, Hyundai's corporate cousin, offers more cargo space behind the third row, ideal for those who frequently pack a lot of gear. The Telluride also comes standard with a V6 engine, providing extra towing power for those who need it.

The 2024 Santa Fe Calligraphy gets an EPA-estimated combined fuel economy of 23 mpg, with 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. This falls in the middle of the pack compared to its competitors. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid offers a stellar 36 mpg combined, while the Honda Pilot and Kia Telluride offer a slightly better combined rating of 25 mpg.

The Drive

When it comes to driving and handling the roads the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe doesn't lack torque. 

Also, if the previous generation of Santa Fe was soft, the new one is better balanced. The suspension is firmer than before and the body movements are consequently better controlled. If you go with the XRT version, keep in mind that the tires of Santa FE's XRT version increase the vagueness in the steering and make this version noisier than the  Ultimate Calligraphy, in which everything is rather muffled. But, despite the additional firmness of the suspension, the vehicle has not lost its comfort, the holes are absorbed with aplomb. The driving pleasure remains behind, but that is not the primary purpose of such a vehicle.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe back design

In general, the 2024 Santa Fe prioritizes a smooth and comfortable ride over sharp handling. Reviewers found it absorbs bumps and imperfections with ease, making it ideal for long road trips and daily commutes. While the turbocharged engine delivers satisfying acceleration, reviewers noted that the steering feels a bit relaxed and isn't designed for sporty driving. If you crave a more engaging driving experience with sharp handling, then the Santa Fe might not be your top choice. However, for most families who prioritize comfort and a relaxing ride, the Santa Fe's confident handling and powerful engine should prove more than adequate.

The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe promises a new chapter in the history of this popular SUV. With its bold design, refined performance and versatile features, it promises to be a compelling choice for those seeking the perfect balance of style, comfort and adventure. With its third-row seating and powerful engine, it's a great choice for families who need a versatile and functional SUV. With a realistic price and a top-tier warranty, this Santa Fe has a bright future ahead of it. 

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe's front view and grille

How important is third-row space for you, and would a less spacious third row be a dealbreaker if the SUV excels in other areas? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Armen Hareyan is the founder and the Editor in Chief of Torque News. He founded in 2010, which since then has been publishing expert news and analysis about the automotive industry. He can be reached at Torque News TwitterFacebookLinkedin, and Youtube. He has more than a decade of expertise in the automotive industry with a special interest in Tesla and electric vehicles.

Reference and additional reading: Car and Driver, Le Progres.