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The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe’s Boxy New Look Comes With Lots of Practical Upgrades

The new Santa Fe is coming with two powertrain options: a 2.5-liter turbo or a 1.6-liter hybrid.

When images of the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe first surfaced a few weeks back, the Internet rang out with cries of “This is the Land Rover Defender we have at home.” But after checking out the 2024 model in person, it’s clear that while the new Santa Fe’s boxy redesign is intended to catch the attention of the outdoorsy crowd, the once-again three-row SUV’s main focus is still on being a great family hauler and not necessarily a trail champion.

The Santa Fe is all-new for the first time since 2018, and it looks it inside and out. As Hyundai design chief SangYup Lee tells it, insights gleaned from “big data” during the Santa Fe’s design process pointed to an outdoor lifestyle boom not just in the U.S., but globally. So, Hyundai pivoted to a rectilinear design language and introduced clever features like C-pillar grab handles for easier roof rack access and an extra-wide tailgate opening to meet the market.

The Santa Fe’s length and wheelbase have both grown just under two inches, and a combination of shorter front and longer rear overhangs prioritizes cargo space and a usable third row of seating. For what it’s worth, I found the squared-off Hyundai’s proportions handsome and its low-mounted taillights less jarring in person.

Interior space was a priority in the redesign, with increased legroom in every row and best-in-class third-row headroom. At six-foot-two, I found the second row’s optional captain’s chairs downright comfy and the third row adequate for a short trip. With both rows folded, the Santa Fe’s cargo floor is nearly flat and remarkably low, with that trick tailgate increasing access width by almost six inches. While Hyundai’s press materials describe the cargo area as “terrace-like” and show it set up as a camping retreat, Lee boasts of the low, flat floor and wide opening’s ease of loading in a Costco parking lot—likely a far more common scenario for most buyers.

Up front, a column-mounted rotary shifter similar to those in Hyundai’s Ioniq models frees up space for dual wireless smartphone chargers. The driver and passenger also get useful storage cubbies between the seats and a Panoramic Curved Display which combines the 12.3-inch digital cluster and infotainment system into one long screen that curves toward the driver. Mercifully, there are still physical buttons for climate control and audio on the console and steering wheel—Lee is a noted big fan of tactile controls for safety reasons. Hyundai’s excellent Highway Driving Assist 2 ADAS is onboard, of course, but there’s also a new Driver Attention Warning system that uses cameras to monitor the driver and warn them if they begin to doze off behind the wheel.

The North American-spec Santa Fe will offer two powertrain options: a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 277 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, and a 1.6-liter turbocharged hybrid powertrain. Total powertrain figures for the hybrid system are not yet available, but for what it’s worth, the 1.6-liter gas engine puts out 177 hp and 195 lb-ft on its own. The 2.5-liter turbo is familiar to us from the Santa Cruz pickup, and it gets the same eight-speed dual-clutch transmission here while hybrid models use a six-speed automatic. Hyundai will apparently offer a plug-in hybrid variant of the 1.6-liter engine in other markets, but not in North America.

Off-road hardware upgrades on the launch cars are limited to new shocks with dual-frequency tuning and an advanced air analysis and filtration system, according to Hyundai’s technical team. It’s no Toyota Land Cruiser, but it should be enough to tackle a dirt road or light trail without issue. However, Hyundai expressed its intent to go more rugged with a Santa Fe XRT Concept on display at the launch event. Sporting BFGoodrich all-terrain tires, a metal roof rack, and side-mounted auxiliary storage, the XRT Concept gives off strong adventure vibes, but we’ll have to wait until November to learn more about its hardware.

The 2024 Santa Fe will go on sale in the U.S. during the first half of 2024. Hyundai has yet to announce pricing, but for reference, the Santa Fe’s bigger sibling, the Palisade, starts at $37,735.

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