2024 Hyundai Santa Fe – Heading in a New Direction

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

The reveal of the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe took us a bit by surprise a few weeks ago.

Apparently, details leaked onto the Internet so the company rushed up a press release that we dutifully covered.

Around that same time, I was booking flights to fly to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to see the completely transformed Santa Fe in person. Which I did during the waning days of July.

What I saw is a vehicle that really does look dramatically different than its predecessor – no mild styling updates here. We also learned that there’s still more information to come – Hyundai kept mum on key details, telling us to check back during the Los Angeles Auto Show so often that it became a running gag.

(Full disclosure: Hyundai flew me to Albuquerque and put me up in nice hotels both there and in Santa Fe. The company fed us as well.)

If you think the new Santa Fe looks like a Land Rover Defender, take heart, I did too. But Hyundai’s chief designer SangYup Lee swears it’s just a coincidence – in fact, he told us, he’d conceived of the Santa Fe’s design before he ever saw a Defender since Hyundai started its product planning before the Defender came to market.

He did, however, say Land Rover as a brand was part of his inspiration.

The fifth-generation Santa Fe now offers three rows of seating and, as you can see, a very boxy look. There are “H” patterns – for Hyundai, naturally – all over the place, most notably in the headlights. There are lots of little “h’s” in the cabin, too.

One neat touch – a handhold behind the rear doors makes it easier to access the roof.

As is often the case when a vehicle gets redesigned, the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe gets larger and heavier. It gains 1.8 inches of length to check in at 190 inches and change and is now almost 75 inches wide. The wheelbase is now 110.8 inches – a gain of 1.9 inches. Gains in height vary a bit based on trim and whether there’s a roof rack or not, but the base height is now over 67 inches.

This means gains in interior legroom – gas models now have 42.3 inches of second-row legroom. Hybrid models get 41.5 inches of second-row legroom. Third-row legroom is now 30 inches and third-row headroom is now almost 38 inches. The third-row seats recline.

Getting larger usually means getting heavier – and the 2024 Santa Fe gains some pounds. The gasser will weigh about 4,750 pounds and the hybrid will weigh about 4,900 pounds. That’s around 700 pounds over previous.

There will be four powertrains available globally – and unless Hyundai throws us a curveball in L.A., the North American mills will be familiar. There will be a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasser and a hybrid that pairs a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with an electric motor. The former’s numbers are 277 horsepower/311 lb-ft of torque and the latter’s are 178/195. That’s basically carryover in both cases.

There’s a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter and a plug-in hybrid that uses a 1.6-liter four-banger on offer as well, at least in other markets. Hyundai’s press materials only confirm the 2.5 turbo and the 1.6 hybrid for North America, at least at this point. We wouldn’t be shocked if the PHEV is shown in L.A. as a surprise. That’s just speculation on my part, to be clear, but it seems a safe bet.

Front- and all-wheel drive will be offered, and the transmission is an eight-speed automatic.

Other features Hyundai will be offering include 21-inch wheels, a 12.3-inch gauge/infotainment cluster, a leg rest for first-row passengers, a digital rearview mirror, dual-wireless charging for phones, a center console that opens in various directions to offer more convenience, a sterilization tray that can sterilize your small items using UV-C, a digital key, a column-shift that uses shift-by-wire, rear occupant alert, and the ability to get over-the-air updates.

Safety aids will include forward-collision assist, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, safe-exit assist, intelligent speed limit assist, driver-attention warning, blind-spot monitoring, high-beam assist, lane-following assist, navigation-based smart cruise control, highway-driving assist, rear-view monitor, surround-view monitor, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, front and rear park distance warning assist, remote smart parking assist, and a driver monitoring system.

Hyundai is touting that some of the Santa Fe’s interior bits are made from recycled materials and that the leather on the seats is either artificial leather made from recycled materials or natural leather that’s applied in an eco-friendly manner.

Our take, after seeing the Santa Fe in the flesh is that it all looks good, but looks only mean so much. The vehicles we were poking and prodding were all prototypes, so I can’t comment on fit and finish, but the interior looks good. As for the exterior, it’s not bad-looking, but it will be mistaken for the Defender, at least from a distance.

We’d be remiss without mentioning the XRT concept, an off-road version that has all-terrain tires, a plethora of off-road accessories, and a lifted suspension. It also has a roof rack that’s more off-road-oriented that contains a cargo carrier and a spare tire, cargo boxes, and a tailgate-mounted ladder. No word on whether an off-road-focused model like this would make production.

The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe will be built in Korea – with U.S. models being produced at Hyundai’s Alabama plant – and it will go on sale in Korea this month. It will arrive in North American and European showrooms in the first half of 2024.

[Images © 2023 Tim Healey/TTAC.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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3 of 52 comments
  • Bkojote Bkojote on Aug 11, 2023

    Remember the Kia Amanti and how it kind of ruined the Jaguar X-type?

    Same vibes here. Feels like it's cribbing the Defender and GX/LC- down to the fake trapezoid wheel arches. Of course, hyundai dressing this up for off road duty with their craptacular DCT is also laughable- you don't gotta search far to see the very low limits of their AWD system and subpar chassis engineering.

    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Aug 11, 2023

      The Jaguar X-type ruined itself... and the Amanti aped the styling of the DEW98 S-type, not the X-type.

  • NJRide NJRide on Aug 12, 2023

    This thing seems way too heavy for what it is. I don't see how it could possibly be a class leader on performance or fuel economy

  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.
  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys dudes off the rails on drugs and full of hate and retribution. so is musky.