Home » Here’s What Makes The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Surprisingly Clever

Here’s What Makes The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Surprisingly Clever

Hyundai Santa Fe Ts
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The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe has struck a nerve, hasn’t it? While other automakers have been busy fussing around with compound curves, Hyundai broke out a ruler and styled the toughest-looking crossover since the Matra Rancho. By now, we’ve detailed those retro-Disco looks, but we recently got our hands on this new CUV in Los Angeles and are blown away by how clever it is.

First, a bit of U.S.-market exposition. The standard engine is a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-banger putting out 277 horsepower and 311 lb.-ft. of torque. Hitched to the same eight-speed wet-clutch dual-clutch transmission found in the Santa Cruz, it should prove reasonably lively. If you want more economy, a 1.6-liter turbo hybrid powertrain is available, which is quite like the one found in the outgoing Santa Fe. If you’re especially outdoorsy, there’s an XRT trim with 30-inch all terrain tires and a 1.5-inch suspension lift, and it can tow 4,500 pounds when properly-equipped. Right, boilerplate stuff out of the way, let’s get into the details.

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The smart touches start on the outside with two squares on each C-pillar. They’re odd styling elements, but they actually serve a functional purpose. Open the rear door, and you’ll find a little lock in the jamb. Turn it, and now you can depress the upper C-pillar square into the body to reveal a grip for roof rack access. Since anyone who hasn’t hooped in the D-league can attest that getting up to a roof rack on a tall vehicle is a proper pain in the ass, this little touch makes expanding the Santa Fe’s practicality a whole lot easier.

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Moving inside, you’ll immediately notice not one, but two wireless chargers in the center console. Using an electronic column-mounted shifter has freed up a ton of real estate, and Hyundai has put that to good use with phone heaters for both the driver and the front passenger. It’s a little bit of luxury you wouldn’t expect, and rather pragmatic luxury at that.

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Speaking of carving out space, the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe features two gloveboxes and a shelf, good enough for seven pairs of gloves. The glorious upper glovebox is sorely missed in many modern crossovers, so to see Hyundai bringing it back gives me joy. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good cubby.

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Speaking of cubbies, let’s talk about the armrest cubby. Hyundai, in a moment of clarity, decided to make the center console lid open both ways. For most manufacturers, this means hinging the lid on either side to permit easy access for the driver and front passenger. For Hyundai, this means hinging the lid on the leading and rearward edges, allowing everyone in the first two rows use of the armrest storage compartment. In all my years in the industry, I’ve never seen a lid like this before, and it’s about damn time someone made one.

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Moving into the second row, it’s hard to not notice that the seatback pockets are made of plastic. In fact, they’re just plastic panels held in with massive elastic bands, a move that sounds relatively cheap but will immediately make sense to parents. If children aren’t shoving things under the seats, they’re shoving things into the seatback pockets. Fabric and elastic mesh both stretch out and get fugly over time, and any soft material is susceptible to wear from kicking. Hard plastic? Well, it’s hardwearing and doesn’t stretch. Another bright idea from Hyundai.

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If there’s one sacrifice on the Santa Fe, it’s cargo space behind the third row, because there just isn’t any. Floor space is only about deep enough for a few exceptionally slim backpacks, and the tilt of the seatbacks limits vertical space. Still, if you need all three rows all the time, you’d probably lean more towards the Hyundai Palisade, as it’s genuinely much bigger.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe

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With a whizz-bang 2.5-liter turbocharged four-banger or a 1.6-liter turbocharged hybrid setup, a roomy three-row form, and rugged good looks, the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe could be a real winner. Needless to say, I can’t wait to drive it next year, given its on-sale date in March.

(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal)

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BobWellington
BobWellington
6 months ago

It’s ugly as sin, but the dual-hinged center console is cool.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
6 months ago

Definitely a bot. At least a car related bot though.

Leonardo Bacigalupe
Leonardo Bacigalupe
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

Lol, I gave it like because I thought it was just someone being ironic, but I don’t think I’ve seen my man Mudassar around here before

Last edited 6 months ago by Leonardo Bacigalupe
Ed Friese
Ed Friese
6 months ago

A 3-row Santa Fe… so basically, a Kia Sorento

And plastic seatback compartments – my ’22 EV6 has them

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
6 months ago
Reply to  Ed Friese

Depending how you look at it, aside from the 2nd gen Santa Fe and the XL version from the 3rd gen, the Sorento has always been like a 3-row Santa Fe (although the SF continued to offer 3 rows in other markets. Chicken or egg, etc.

Goblin
Goblin
6 months ago
Reply to  Ed Friese

The Sorento is a shorter and more cramped Santa Fe XL (which incidentally is as underrated as it is good).

Last edited 6 months ago by Goblin
Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
6 months ago

Honestly, I love it. And this is a segment I typically have nothing but scorn for. I know some will complain about the third row, but if you have to occasionally throw someone else’s kids in your car, this is sort of a right-sized solution if you don’t want to own a van but you occasionally need the extra seats. If you need that third row or cargo space, get a damn van.

Otherwise, it’s thoughtful design touches that make me excited about cars in general and this seems to have a bunch. And you’re damn right about the seatback pockets; I currently have nylon “bibs” that cover my seatbacks to keep the kids from wiping their shoes all over the backs of the seats. I’d be less likely to bother with those if the surface was easy to wipe down.

And finally, yes, built in solutions to get to that roof rack need to become more common. Getting a kayak, roof box, or whatever off the top of a modern van/SUV is not easy unless you’re pretty damn tall (this is where wagons excel btw, never is the roof rack of a vehicle as useful as it is on a wagon). Sometimes I throw a step stool into the back of the van just to get up there. Would be nice to not have to do that.

Usernametaken
Usernametaken
6 months ago

For comparison, the Toyota Highlander L (the 3 row one) and the Toyota Sienna are near as makes no difference the same price and the van is larger, yes…by 2.4″ in length, and basically nothing else.

I tried to use these facts to convince some friends to get the van instead of the Highlander L because “they needed a new family car”. Part of my sell involved highlighting that they could much more easily access the interior inside their garage with sliding doors.

Long story short, the arguments did not work on ‘normies’ so, I guess this is what people buy now

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
6 months ago
Reply to  Usernametaken

I’ll never understand it. Vans rule. I’ve never seen a 3-row SUV and thought the occupants inside must be real cool adventurous types, and totally not parents of children spewing goldfish dust everywhere.

I can understand the cramped 3-row concept like this though, vans are huge now and I get that some people want a smaller vehicle with 6+ seat belts. Would it be nicer to have smaller vans back? Yes. But that seems unlikely to ever happen.

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
6 months ago

Agreed. This would be a nice replacement for my wife’s CX-5 (if it was going to get replaced anytime soon, which it isn’t). It would be nice to have a 3rd row to toss some friends’ kids in the back every now and again. We don’t want a van, acknowledging that they are the practicality king, simply because we hate the way they look. We don’t want to spend money on something we don’t like the way it looks. I think this new Santa Fe looks good. Kinda reminds me of the Ford Flex. Which we considered buying instead of the CX-5, but my wife decided she didn’t want to drive anything that big.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
6 months ago

Or don’t.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
6 months ago

> phone heaters for both the driver and the front passenger

Phone heaters? Is that what today’s youths call those things?

AC2DE
AC2DE
6 months ago

[spoken in a nasally old man voice] Back in my day, during the war, we didn’t have cell phones. You had one man stand on a hilltop and wave flags at another man, who would pass the message. And we liked it! None of this darned convoluted technology that only exists to confuse a feller! /s

That’s what my wife says I’m turning into…

Ecsta C3PO
Ecsta C3PO
6 months ago

It’s a joke about how many wireless phone chargers in cars are heating up phones to sometimes alarming temperatures, often barely charging at all

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
6 months ago
Reply to  Ecsta C3PO

Thank you for that. I disliked the idea of wireless charging when I first heard of it simply because you lose -at best- around 1/5 of the power. If the coils aren’t well-aligned, it can be up to 1/2 of the power. Pointless waste.

So I didn’t know that sometimes the wasted power is just heating them up.

Don’t use wireless charging, people: it’s a silly thing we can easily do without in a world where we’re straining our resources already. Sorry to preach there—it’s the Midwesterner in me.

SkyRise
SkyRise
6 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Counterpoint from someone who worked in renewable energy for 15 years:

Don’t worry about phone charging. It is an infinitesimal fraction of the energy you use.

Travel and home HVAC are by far the biggest energy users for the average person.

If you want to worry about things small but important, keep your tires inflated and your door insulation in good repair.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
6 months ago
Reply to  SkyRise

I work in commercial & industrial HVAC, and don’t mind fiberglass as much as many people, so do a fair bit of our insulating as a result. I’m replacing windows where I live with more efficient ones, and keep the temps up in the summer & down in the winter(concentrating on humidity), so do work at doing as I preach.

And, you’re certainly right about tires. As I don’t have monitors, I just aired-up the winter beater Monday. Charging may be only a small fraction of the energy I use, but wireless charging is not necessary: it’s just a cool techy thing people do. It’s inherently wasteful, and there’s no need for it.

I enjoy cruising mountain backroads: finding new ones is almost my hobby, so I quell that Midwestern guilt by conserving everywhere else I can

Mike Farrell
Mike Farrell
6 months ago

a lovely bit of snark from the author of the article. Edmunds reported back in August that Hyundai stated there were built in fans to the wireless charger to cool the phones as they charged. less snark, more facts. do automotive journalists ask questions anymore or do they just regurgitate what’s in the press release and add some spice? lowest hanging fruit I guess.

Space
Space
6 months ago

What no v8 option?

Internal Error
Internal Error
6 months ago

phone heaters”? I’m in the desert, we don’t need those.

Parsko
Parsko
6 months ago

Someone stole the shifter knob.

Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
6 months ago

If there’s one sacrifice on the Santa Fe, it’s cargo space behind the third row, because there just isn’t any. Floor space is only about deep enough for a few exceptionally slim backpacks, and the tilt of the seatbacks limits vertical space. Still, if you need all three rows all the time, you’d probably lean more towards the Hyundai Palisade, as it’s genuinely much bigger.

Oh good, we’re playing the name-and-size shuffle again.

Both of the previous 3-row generations (2nd and 3rd) had very little room behind the rear seat, so exactly zero surprise to see that playing out here again. A little surprised to see the 2-row variant is gone, but I guess the Tucson keeps slowly growing in size, so that fills (sort of) that role in the lineup now. It’s about the size of a first gen Santa Fe now.

Andrew Bugenis
Andrew Bugenis
6 months ago

Yeah, disappointed that the Santa Fe is gaining a third row again. I guess model bloat makes it unavoidable, but the lines are blurry between so many models right now.

Dangerous_Daveo
Dangerous_Daveo
6 months ago

Raise up the rear lights and make sure the indicators are in those rear lights, I’m on board.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
6 months ago

I saw a video when this was first announced that looked like the indicators were on the main unit, and switched to the bumpers only when the tailgate was open (which makes sense). Still would like them higher like you said but that’s better than all bumper all the time signals like they love to do.

Fenton Canaby
Fenton Canaby
6 months ago

Dear lord that’s an ugly rear end. I was all on board up until I saw how low those taillights are. Yikes.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
6 months ago

I’ve always gotten the feeling that Hyundai/Kia loos to competitors design from past and present to base their new designs off. This is a what a gen 3rd gen Isuzu Axiom would look like.

Drew
Drew
6 months ago

I get why they added the third row, but I liked that the Santa Fe was a holdout two-row. I don’t get why they are taking away the PHEV, except that they already limit it to a few states.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
6 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I wonder if they’ll bring back the PHEV at a later date. It seems like any model with a PHEV option always debuts a year or two later

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
6 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Same here on the 2- vs. 3-row. It looks like most trims have a 3-seat middle row in the Santa Fe until the top Calligraphy per early specs on the Hyundai site, so that’s at least better than the Sorento, where you’re forced into captain’s chairs in the 2nd row at the same time as the 3rd row.

Abraham Smith
Abraham Smith
6 months ago

my main complaint with Hyundai Kia is that these huge vehicles have tiny windows. I feel like I am in a submarine.

Sadly, they didn’t take the opportunity to lower the beltline.

Last edited 6 months ago by Abraham Smith
RKranc
RKranc
6 months ago
Reply to  Abraham Smith

Unfortunately, I suspect lowering the beltline would severely compromise side-impact safety. I don’t like the armored vehicle-style windows either, but being broadsided by a modern pickup and having its bumper come through the window glass is not a great option.

Last edited 6 months ago by RKranc
D-dub
D-dub
6 months ago
Reply to  RKranc

It’s a “We have to make our vehicles bigger because everyone else’s vehicles are bigger” feedback loop.

Jim Zavist
Jim Zavist
6 months ago
Reply to  D-dub

All manufacturers try to make what sells. Buyers are actively seeking out and buying bigger, so why not take their money?!

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Zavist

Because there are some things that shouldn’t be available to the general public, else you’d see a lot more poorly driven main battle tanks and APCs impatiently elbowing their way through your morning commute.

RKranc
RKranc
6 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

When I was daily driving a low sports car, too often it already felt like being surrounded by military hardware. At least now that I’m in something bigger, I feel like I have a chance of survival. It’s not really by choice mind you, but my anxiety (and survival instinct) finally got the better of me. Just too much stupid and insane on the road I guess.

Last edited 6 months ago by RKranc
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
6 months ago
Reply to  RKranc

I used to daily drive a TR-3 in a sea of Canyoneros I do understand the fear but I don’t agree that makes buying such a behemoth OK. Modern small cars can be shockingly competent at protecting their occupants:

https://www.motorbiscuit.com/nissan-altima-driver-miraculously-survives-worst-crash-weve-ever-seen/

Last edited 6 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
6 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Why am I not surprised that accident happened on the I-5 bridge over the Skagit? That area is not just dangerous, it’s downright cursed.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
6 months ago

Eh, just drive it in an Altima, you’ll be fine 😉

Last edited 6 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Geoffrey Reuther
Geoffrey Reuther
6 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Sorry, I just don’t have the Big Altima Energy for that.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
6 months ago

There’s a Maxima for that.

Fenton Canaby
Fenton Canaby
6 months ago
Reply to  RKranc

Land Rovers and Subaru Foresters have that “glass house” effect. Since this is mimicking the design of a Defender, it should have good glass coverage.

Turkina
Turkina
6 months ago
Reply to  RKranc

S-u-b-a-r-u.
But the normies like living in a WW2 pillbox, so… *shrug*

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