Car Review: Hyundai continues its string of hits with the all-new 2024 Santa Fe

Not just comfortable on the paved road. Now the Santa Fe can tackle some off-roading with added ground clearance and AWD. (WTOP/Brian Armstead)

By Brian Armstead, special contributor

The first Santa Fe bowed in 2000 and was a competent, but fairly homely, SUV. Well, things have changed in a big way.

The new, three-row, fifth-generation model checks all of the boxes — style, comfort, convenience, and safety in a very affordable, six-or-seven-seat package. Oh, and it’s also a legit off-roader.

Santa Fe styling

Starting up front, H-shaped headlamps, connected with an LED grille light bar, along with a high hood and sharply defined fenders, make a strong statement. The side profile is where Santa Fe really shines, as it’s longer and wider than the outgoing 2023 model. A longer wheelbase contributes to a rugged look and features aggressive wheel arches and aerodynamics aids.

From the rear, the wider and taller liftgate maximizes access for cargo loading. The hatch raises so high that all 6-foot-9 of me can stand underneath with my hair barely brushing the hatch glass.

Interior design

Santa Fe’s all-new interior continues the H-signature design via ambient lighting across the lower dash and on corner air vents, continuing a well-integrated design balance.

With the longer wheelbase, the Santa Fe offers increased legroom, and third-row passengers get more shoulder space thanks to the wider interior. When both rows are folded, it creates enough space for an inflatable mattress or cool lounging area during campground visits, tailgating events or when you just want to chill out. The Santa Fe’s interior, even in base trim, is pretty darn luxurious.

Want even more luxury? Top Calligraphy trim offers a Relaxation Comfort driver’s seat with an airline business-class style leg rest, premium diamond-stitched Nappa Leather seats with power-adjustable second-row Captain’s Chairs (six-seat configuration — SE through Limited trims offer second-row bench seats), and a dual-panel glass sunroof.

Drive experience

On smooth roads, the Santa Fe is quiet and comfortable. We only drove Calligraphy trims during our test drive, but there’s no reason to doubt that all Santa Fes exhibit the same smooth traits.

Until the hybrid model arrives, all trims are powered by a four-cylinder, turbocharged engine outputting 277 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, coupled to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Choose from Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) or HTRAC (Hyundai TRACtion All Wheel Drive-AWD) for all trims but XRT, which is available in AWD only.

Our drive on a special trail course highlighted the impressive off-road capabilities Santa Fe possesses. Steep, muddy and rock-strewn inclines, side-to-side moguls, water ditches and steep declines were all part of the course.

MPG: 24 mpg combined FWD models. AWD models 23 mpg combined.

Safety: Hyundai currently has seven Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) “Top Safety Pick” and “Top Safety Pick+” designations across its model lines. Expect the 2024 Santa Fe to also be a part of this impressive safety club.

Pricing: Santa Fe MSRPs range from $33,900 for base SE FWD, to $48,300 for top trim Calligraphy AWD.

Things to Know: All 2024 Santa Fe models are built in America at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama. A super efficient Hybrid Santa Fe will hit dealerships soon.


  • Sophisticated styling belies its reasonable price points
  • Luxury interior on Calligraphy models
  • In AWD guise, very competent in all weather


  • No hybrid version just yet (coming by summer)
  • Calligraphy models will be harder to find than other trim levels

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