Hyundai Santa Fe Undergoes Serious Metamorphosis

Automakers love to say that a vehicle is “all new” every time they update the design. 

But there are varying degrees of change, and in some cases it seems too subtle to earn that distinction. 

Not so with the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe. This is one serious update, both inside and out. For starters, it comes with standard three-row seating and a standard 2.5L turbocharged powertrain.

With the addition of the third-row seat, the target customer is going to expand, says Michael Evanoff is a senior manager of product planning for Hyundai Motor North America.

“We saw a lot of popularity with Palisade in the three row, so I think it is going to attract a younger customer than what we see in Palisade,” Evanoff tells Drive Time. “We did research on the vehicle here in the states. It resonated very well with females as well. Also, because it is such a huge departure in styling, current Santa Fe owners liked it as much, if not a little bit more than the other respondents we had in the research. So, basic life stage, but I think a little bit younger than what we see in Palisade.”



Developed under the “open for more” development concept centered around its new, wider liftgate opening and spacious interior,  the Santa Fe aims to expand everyday experiences by connecting urban customer activities with natural environments.

The liftgate area, once exclusively a storage space, now expands its use to a terrace-like function to effortlessly enjoy the outdoor environment surrounding the vehicle. 

I recently had the chance to test-drive both the upscale Calligraphy edition with all-wheel drive and a standard 2.5L turbocharged powertrain, as well as the more off-road suitable XRT. 

One of the things I noticed was the third row folds perfectly flat, which is more unusual than you might think. I recently had the chance to do an extended test drive in the outgoing Santa Fe design during a cross-country rescue dog transport. I can say unequivocally this model is much better suited for hauling dog cages around.

Both of the new models that I test drove were comfortable and capable and had a lot of thoughtful interior design features, including room to wirelessly charge two cell phones. 

Rising vehicle prices are a hindrance for many potential consumers. But the new Santa Fe feels like a more-expensive vehicle than its actual price.

The entry price is $33,950 and goes up to $48,800 for the Calligraphy edition with AWD and a hybrid powertrain.  But the Santa Fe’s new boxy exterior could be mistaken for a much more expensive Rivian R1S SUV (which starts at $74,900) or Land Rover Defender (which starts at $56,400).

The competitive set for the compact SUV is the Honda Passport, Subaru Outback and Chevrolet  Blazer, Evanoff says. “Basically, the larger two row (SUVs). There are some in our segmentation, there are some with three rows, the Kia Sorento and the Mitsubishi Outlander,” he says. 

I feel like it's going to give those models and more a run for their money. It's really that good of an "all-new" vehicle. 

Previous generation Santa Fe compared with the updated model

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