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2024 Hyundai Santa Fe First Look: Form and Function United

An injection of style and substance rejuvenates Hyundai's other midsize SUV

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe front hero
  • The Santa Fe is fully redesigned for 2024.
  • Its rugged styling evokes the Land Rover Defender.
  • You can expect additional interior room and new technology.

The Hyundai Santa Fe three-row SUV used to be one of the more conservatively styled models in the brand's wide-ranging fleet of crossovers, content to slide under the radar. But the new 2024 Santa Fe will enjoy no such anonymity, with its redesign transforming the exterior with a boxy, extremely angular shape that makes it stand out. We think the aggressive new look bears a striking resemblance to the current Land Rover Defender.

That's no accident. Hyundai has said the car's design has been shaped around "the latest outdoor lifestyle trends." The Santa Fe is being positioned as a more rugged alternative to the Palisade that blurs the line between a city-dwelling SUV and one that can handle roads less traveled. There's no doubt the new Santa Fe is one of the most interesting-looking vehicles in its class, and though its showstopping exterior might be what draws people in at first, it's the improved interior packaging and new technology that will seal the deal.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe rear

What's under the Santa Fe's hood?  

Things are a little more familiar underhood. The Santa Fe's powertrain options have been condensed from four to two, though there is a PHEV-sized "for now" caveat (look for a plug-in hybrid to potentially reappear in the next couple of years). The old naturally aspirated four-cylinder has been gently sent to the retirement home, with the previously optional turbocharged 2.5-liter unit returning to provide power for most models. There's also a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine paired with a hybrid system, which also makes a comeback from the last-gen Santa Fe.

Finalized power figures for these powertrains were not available as of this writing, but Hyundai says to expect output to be roughly the same. Last year, the turbocharged 2.5-liter produced 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, while the Santa Fe Hybrid churned out 226 total horsepower between the engine and electric motor. It's safe to assume that front- and all-wheel-drive versions of the Santa Fe will be offered once again.

Though the ground clearance of the new Santa Fe hasn't changed much from the last generation's 8.2 inches, Hyundai says that the vehicle will feature suspension changes including updated dampers, hydro bushings, and a more rigid chassis for greater stability. There's also an improved air filtration system to keep dust out of the cabin.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe interior

How's the Santa Fe's interior? 

The newly styled exterior is grabbing the headlines, but we're even more excited about the changes to the interior. Though the Santa Fe is a bit longer, it's still half a foot shorter than the Palisade, Hyundai's other three-row midsize. But clever packaging and this new boxy shape mean that if you measure from the dashboard to the tailgate, the Santa Fe is just as long and it now has improved interior space. In a welcome change from the last generation, its third row can finally fit adults. Hyundai has significantly boosted the Santa Fe's third-row headroom, which makes its back seat feel less claustrophobic than the third rows of rivals. 

Hyundai hasn't announced the seating configurations for the U.S. market, but we did see Korean-spec vehicles with second-row captain's chairs or a bench, for six- or seven-passenger seating, respectively. We also see the return of the Relaxation Seat that debuted in the Ioniq 5, but this time it's available for both the first- and second-row seats (with captain's chairs) on the driver's side. This feature allows the seat to lean back into a nearly flat position with a leg rest that pops out as well, like a lie-flat seat on an airplane, making it an ideal spot for quick naps on the go.

The Santa Fe's rear cargo opening is massive. The taillights have been mounted low to allow the struts to move outward, so when the hatch lifts, it seems as though the entire rear of the car is opening up. We're also waiting for official cargo specs, but the second row also folds completely flat to create a large, flat cargo area that's perfect for squeezing in bulky items or an inflatable bed.


How's the Santa Fe's tech? 

The Santa Fe's in-cabin technology also takes a big leap forward in this redesign. There are dual 12.3-inch screens up front like you'll find in other Hyundais, but the multimedia system adds two crucial features: wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. These have been offered on lower-end Hyundai screens for years, but the upgraded larger screens curiously required a cord. No more. Keeping with the wireless smartphone theme are two wireless charging pads that can both charge at 15 kW and come with a fan underneath to keep the phones cool.

Improving rearward visibility is a digital rearview mirror so even if the cargo area is full of suitcases, you'll be able to see behind you. There's also a secondary glovebox that comes with a UV sanitizer that works for phones, masks, or anything else that needs disinfecting.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe XRT Concept

What's the XRT Concept?

It's Hyundai's answer to the questions about the Santa Fe's off-road capability not matching this new exterior styling. Outfitted with all-terrain tires, a suspension lift, and covered in overlanding features like a rear ladder, beefed-up roof rack, and camera mounts on the front fenders, the XRT Concept shows that Hyundai is at least considering creating beefier versions of the Santa Fe that will be better equipped to tackle tougher off-road challenges.

Edmunds says

The Santa Fe takes a back seat to the Palisade no more. With improved technology and interior space, along with that head-turning design, it appears that Hyundai will have a formidable duo in this midsize SUV segment for years to come.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe front