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During our week with the Hyundai Santa Fe, we’ve determined that it’s an excellent SUV for daily driving and road trips, but it could use some rugged upgrades. Only a few updates would enable the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe to tackle the wild. 

Can the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe go off-roading? 

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe could become a rugged adventurer
2023 Hyundai Santa Fe | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

Yes, technically, the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe can go off-roading, but it’s not ready to keep up with the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road or Subaru Forester Wilderness yet. Improving the Santa Fe for the wild wouldn’t take much. 

It has an 8.2-inch ground clearance, which is a great start. Taking it up to 8.5 inches would be better. The Hyundai Santa Fe XRT adds rugged appearance upgrades such as 18-inch wheels, a roof rack with cross rails, and side steps. 

While it looks adventure-ready, it’s mechanically identical to other models. Adding a suspension lift, protective skid plates, and all-terrain tires would beef things up. Recovery hooks would be ideal but may require upgraded bumpers. 

Because the roof rack has cross bars, the Santa Fe might be able to support a rooftop tent. Also, it can tow up to 3,500 lbs. It can pull smaller campers and recreational vehicles. 

How much power does the 2023 Santa Fe have?

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe has a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. Edmunds recommends avoiding this engine and upgrading to the available turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. 

It helps the Santa Fe accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 6.6 seconds. It has plenty of power for climbing slippery inclines. It could power through slick mud and ruts with ease. 

The available Hyundai HTRAC AWD system monitors 50 vehicle inputs over 100 times per second to calculate how much torque each wheel needs. If a slip is detected, the system reroutes power between the front and rear axles and applies subtle brake pressure to maintain traction. 

While driving in AWD auto mode, the system acts as a regular 2WD vehicle. But power is automatically sent to all four wheels as needed. 

You can use the AWD lock button to distribute power to all four wheels during slippery conditions or steep climbs. Use the downhill descent control to easily traverse steep grades. 

The Santa Fe also has a 360-degree surround view camera to assist with parking, and it could be beneficial as a trail camera to help drivers maneuver around tight obstacles. 

How much space does the Santa Fe have? 

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe cargo hold could hold a spare tire
2023 Hyundai Santa Fe cargo hold | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe is incredibly spacious. It provides 34.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat and up to 72.1 cubes in total. The seats fold flat to create a level loading floor or sleeping space. 

The cargo hold has four massive built-in bins that are easy to access. They’re great for storing tools and organizing cargo. However, these bins could be replaced by a full-size spare tire, which is beneficial for off-roading. 

Also, the interior features plush carpet with an upscale feeling. Removing the floor mats to clean them is easy, but we would love it if it featured rubberized all-weather mats instead. The XRT model should go beyond only appearances. 

The Hyundai Santa Fe is engaging, comfortable, and capable. It’s perfect for daily driving, but we want to take it on more adventures. Providing the Santa Fe with rugged upgrades to battle rivals wouldn’t take much.