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Talk about a transformation! You may not recognize the new Hyundai Santa Fe with its bold, boxy style, but you’ll want to get to know it. The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe is bigger, more capable, and more comfortable than ever before.

The 2025 Hyundai Santa Fe is dramatically improved

I recently had the honor of driving the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe around Frankin, Tennessee, both on and off the pavement. That’s right, the Santa Fe XRT trim is a stout off-roader that’s ready to challenge the Honda Pilot TrailSport and Subaru Ascent.

Before I gush over the things I liked there are three potential drawbacks to consider. First, the taillight design may be met with some resistance. Next, the hybrid engine isn’t available with the XRT trim. Also, captain’s chairs are only available with the top-spec Calligraphy trim.

The new Hyundai Santa Fe caters to people’s desires to escape the city and be surrounded by nature with comfort and capability. Hyundai listened to what drivers actually want and drew inspiration from boxy classics like the Hyundai Terracan and Galloper.

While I enjoyed driving the outgoing model, it had some significant body roll, limited space, and limited ground clearance for adventures.

Now the new Santa Fe has a unique style with H symbols in the headlights, rear end, and interior to provide a distinct Hyundai flavor.

The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine provides 277 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. It provides a smooth acceleration and precise shifting for an athletic experience. It’s not short on passing power.

The 1.6-liter hybrid engine will be available in April and generates 231 hp and 279 lb-ft of torque. I hope to see how this engine compares.

While the Santa Fe Calligraphy glides like a knife through butter, with a peaceful cabin, my biggest takeaway was the extra space.

The rear hatch is 32.0 inches tall and 50.2 inches wide. You can take shelter under the tailgate and the seats fold flat to create a level cargo floor. It’s designed for car camping. Plus, it has a low liftover height and the wide opening makes it easier to load bulky items.

Also, the traditional gear shifter was moved, creating a spacious gear tunnel in front of the center console. The center console is bidirectional with a sliding drawer too. The passenger benefits from two glove boxes and a spacious tray.

There are 14.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, 40.5 cubic feet behind the second row, and 79.6 cubes overall. The only small part of the Santa Fe is the third row, which is reserved for kids.

Also, don’t count the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe XRT out. It’s coming for the wild with impressive capabilities. I drove it through deep mud and ruts and even did a little axle hopping.

You typically don’t think about Hyundai when it comes to off-roading but the XRT is here to change things with a 1.8” suspension lift, 18-inch dark alloy wheels, 30-inch all-terrain tires, increased cooling, and an increased towing capacity to 4,500 lbs.

You won’t be using the Santa Fe to rock crawl with the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, but it will get you to your campsite. It had plenty of torque to venture up steep inclines from a complete stop and to avoid getting stuck in deep muck.

The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe XRT off-roading in mud
2024 Hyundai Santa Fe XRT | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

It has an 8.2-inch ground clearance, which is a good start for clearing obstacles. Also, the hill descent control promotes confidence and safety during steep declines.

Honestly, I need more time to explore the tech. The 12.3-inch touchscreen and head-up displays look great but didn’t seem very intuitive at first. Also, the wi-fi hotspot can connect up to five devices, digital kay is available, and the beloved remote park feature still exists.

The entry-level Santa Fe SE starts at $33,950, while the XRT takes the price up to $40,600, and the top-spec Calligraphy trim rings in at $46,500.

The SE model packs in the value with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and hands-free power tailgate. But the Calligraphy is hard to resist with its eco-friendly suede headliner, relaxation seat, and dual wireless charging pad.

While the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe is extremely impressive, I only had one day to play with the XRT and Calligraphy trims. Stay tuned for more thoughts after I spend a week with one.