SEOUL — South Korea is many things; a driver’s paradise will not be one in every of them. The roads are mostly flat and straight, and their level of speed regulation is borderline draconian – like, to the purpose where a multi-hour drive on a freeway becomes a neverending slog to appease what appears like a billion speed cameras. On top of that, traffic is all the time congested. All the time. Hoot and a half, let me tell ya.
But behind the wheel of a 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe, none of these things matters. Hyundai’s redesigned midsize SUV is a quiet, comfortable and surprisingly luxurious steed that makes freeway crawls a non-issue. It’s not half bad on a backroad, too.
The brand new Santa Fe’s basic checklist hasn’t modified for this latest generation – seating for seven, all-wheel drive, a great deal of tech, optional hybrid power – but its overall shape is sort of different. Hyundai really butched this one up, to the purpose where Land Rover comparisons will not be unwarranted. Seriously, it looks more like a Land Rover Discovery than the actual Land Rover Discovery.
By the tape measure, the 2024 Santa Fe isn’t that much larger than its predecessor, only growing 1.8 inches in length and 1.4 inches in height (their widths are an identical). But goodness, does the brand new Santa Fe have a complete lot more curb appeal. You certainly need the larger 21-inch wheels to essentially fill out those generous wells, as the usual 18s can look slightly puny.
Don’t worry, U.S.-spec Santa Fes may have tinted rear windows, unlike the Korean-market tester pictured here – one other upgrade that not only improves things cosmetically but helps to maintain the cabin cool. Once inside, you’ll find generous accommodations for first- and second-row passengers, with that boxy design lending itself to mega headroom. Entering into the third row is sort of a hassle, because the seats don’t slide forward enough, but when you manage to wedge yourself back there, the quantity of space available seems comparable to what you’d find within the considerably larger Palisade (196.7 inches long versus the Santa Fe at 190.2). The remaining cargo space behind it’s one other story – it’s tiny with all seats raised, very like the mechanically related Kia Sorento that has similar exterior dimensions. If that is an issue, loading extra stuff on the raised roof rails is uniquely aided by grab handles within the C pillars that aid you hoist yourself up while standing on the rear tire.
If you happen to thought the Santa Fe’s exterior looked slightly Defender-y, the cockpit gives you the identical impression. The steering wheel looks prefer it was ripped right out of a Land Rover, as do the squared-off air vents and angled climate control screen flanked by temperature dials for the driving force and passenger. The massive center console area has two dedicated wireless charging pads for a pair of smartphones (an extreme rarity, in actual fact we’re struggling to think about one other), and the cubby under the armrest opens from either the front or back, which sounds cool and functional, but you have got to present the lid a superb hard pull to get it to unlatch. This isn’t a weird pre-production quirk, either.
A curved display houses a pair of 12.3-inch screens, one for the gauges and one other for the Hyundai Group’s latest multimedia system that gets wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto amongst other upgrades and updates. To the correct, there are two gloveboxes: a top one behind the dash panel and a more traditional one by the passenger’s knees. That is along with deep door pockets that’ll hold huge water bottles and space for storing under the middle console, as well.
While global markets will probably be treated to an array of powertrain options, including a diesel and a plug-in hybrid, we’ll only get two decisions in North America. First up is the two.5-liter turbocharged inline-four and eight-speed dual-clutch automatic combo that’s utilized in the Santa Cruz pickup as an upgrade, making 277 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. If you happen to’re in search of something more efficient, Hyundai will offer a hybrid powertrain consisting of a 1.6-liter turbo-four engine, small electric motor and six-speed automatic, putting out 232 hp and 271 lb-ft. That’s 6 hp and 13 lb-ft greater than the otherwise similar powertrain present in the one-size-down Hyundai Tucson Hybrid. Official fuel economy numbers won’t be available until closer to the Santa Fe’s on-sale date in March 2024, and no, Hyundai isn’t planning to switch the present Santa Fe PHEV for the US.
Slumming it in Seoul traffic, each engine options offer smooth power delivery and enough oomph to get the Santa Fe out of its own way. But at higher speeds – or when you discover a winding side-road – the less-powerful hybrid setup can occasionally feel anemic, especially during mid-range acceleration. The more powerful 2.5-liter turbo setup really appears like one of the best option, in a position to move the massive Santa Fe with greater confidence. It doesn’t sound half-bad, either.
Hyundai will offer front- and all-wheel-drive Santa Fe models in America. And while the SUV’s rugged attractiveness might offer you the impression that this thing can off-road like a Land Rover, don’t be fooled. Sure, there’ll be a rugged-ish Santa Fe XRT variant that gets 30-inch all-terrain tires and an extra 1.4 inches of ground clearance (the whole number has not been released, oddly). That’s quite a bit greater than other Hyundai XRTs, that are glorified appearance packages, but this unibody crossover still won’t have any sort of proper rock-crawling or mud-slinging chops. The Santa Fe has hill-descent control, but that’s it.
On paved roads, the Santa Fe is plenty nice to drive, with decent steering and controlled body manners. You sit high behind the steering wheel and there’s a commanding view down the long, flat hood that – yep – sort of has a Land Rover vibe. Fitted with 21-inch wheels, the Santa Fe translates every little bump and blemish through to the cabin, however the smaller 18-inch wheels and higher-sidewall tires smooth things out beautifully. This obviously presents a quandary on condition that whole “looks higher on 21s” thing. I didn’t get to drive the XRT, either, so we’ll must wait and see how much its all-terrain tires degrade the ride and handling.
Long stints of hella-dull Korean highway cruising mean Hyundai’s Smart Cruise Control 2 system has loads of time to shine, though this tech isn’t perfect. The lane-centering system has an inclination to ping-pong the SUV between either side of the chosen lane, and the lane-change assist isn’t proactive, like with General Motors’ Super Cruise. You continue to must signal to interact an auto lane change.
Small nitpicks aside, the brand new Santa Fe is a rattling tremendous SUV for every day driving, and comes with all of the technology and creature comforts buyers on this segment expect. Hyundai won’t release final pricing figures for a number of more months, but the brand new Santa Fe’s MSRP shouldn’t stray too removed from the present model’s range, starting around $30,000 and reaching as much as $45,000 for a totally loaded Calligraphy.
Beyond its inherent good graces and competitive pricing, nevertheless, the one biggest thing that’ll help the brand new Santa Fe stand out is its styling. Big and boxy are all the fashion once more, and this increased deal with visual punch definitely turns heads on the streets of Korea. I fully expect it to have the identical effect in SUV-hungry America.
This Article First Appeared At www.autoblog.com