It was somewhere in the hills of New Mexico, a few miles outside the state capital, that the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe was rather fittingly shown off for the first time.
The main message? This entirely redesigned SUV likes to get outside. Bigger than before, this fifth-generation Santa Fe is roomier than the outgoing model, with the express purpose of taking you and yours into the great outdoors.
Same Power, More Space
While it looks entirely different, the stuff that powers it is the same as before. There will be a 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder in gas-only trims, while a 1.6L turbo motor is paired with electric motors and batteries of varying sizes in the conventional and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions.
Overall, the 2024 Santa Fe is 45mm (1.8 in) longer than before, now totalling 4,830mm (190.2 in), and the wheelbase has been stretched to 2,815mm (110.8 in). It all adds up to a bigger and roomier five-seat sport utility.
With this new Santa Fe, Hyundai wanted to build a midsize SUV that links the city with the outdoors, with boxiness playing a central role in making that connection.
When asked where the ideas for the Santa Fe’s radical new look came from, SangYup Lee, head of Hyundai Global Design, raised a few eyebrows in his response.
“I get inspiration from everywhere,” he said, “including Costco.”
“Of course,” he explained. “You see all the different vehicle brands in the Costco parking lot. And you see how people shopping there interact with their (own) vehicle. I sit there and just watch. Hopefully, I get a lot of inspiration from how they load the car … how they park it … drive it out … how they put their babies in the seats.”
According to John Robb, President of the Hyundai America Technical Center, the typical Santa Fe owners can be segmented into clusters.
“The primary customer is still the city-dweller with a small growing family,” he said. “The secondary customer is the camper, someone who’s interested in ‘soft-off-roading.’”
It’s this secondary cluster that seems to have captivated the design team so much this time around. Noting a growing interest in outdoor lifestyles – camping, rock-climbing, and the like – the designers, engineers, and marketing folks took an increasingly common approach with the 2024 Santa Fe by offering a vehicle that caters to those shoppers.
That’s why Hyundai will eventually introduce a Santa Fe XRT, a rugged looking version akin to the TrailSport version of the Honda Passport or any of the umpteen others like it on the market at the moment.
Designed From the Inside Out
Prospective shoppers who just can’t wait for that rugged version will find the rest of the lineup has their hobbies in mind, too. For example, the flat floor throughout makes it a great space for car camping – that is, sleeping inside the vehicle. According to Hyundai’s reps, the tailgate opening is the largest in the class, which is perfect for popping a tent onto the back.
The tailgate makes up the entire rear end of the vehicle; the taillights are incorporated right into it. Moreover, the struts that lift it move almost fully up and down, not on an inward angle. So, you get the widest possible access from just above the floor all the way to the top.
There’s also a third row of seats, which means accommodations for more than five people this time. And there are more compartments and cubbies throughout the cabin, which enhances the Santa Fe’s overall practicality.
The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe will also introduce an industry first: a UV-C sterilization tray. It’s a space atop the glove compartment where phones, wallets, keys, and other small items are bathed in UV light, which sterilizes them.
The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe isn’t much like the one that came before it, which is pretty typical of this brand’s products. Adding size and space – that’s standard stuff across the auto industry. But it’s the way those new dimensions get used that makes this redesigned SUV so compelling.
Expecting pricing and other details closer to the on-sale date, which is likely sometime later this year.