Is the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy a Budget Luxury SUV, or Just Luxury?

Some of us love to have a luxury badge on our SUV that tells the neighbors that we spent some coin on our new ride. Some of us don’t care about what the badge says, but how comfortable we can be inside, and for those people the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy may be a surprise luxury SUV.

Don’t believe it? The new Calligraphy edition offers luxurious appointments and technology that rivals SUVs that cost $20,000 more, but with an understated Santa Fe badge outside.

What do you mean, a luxurious Hyundai Santa Fe?

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy edition
2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy | Hyundai

In the luxury SUV, there are some tenets, whether that’s Lexus, BMW, or Hyundai. Your SUV needs leather seats, chrome or black trim, large wheels, interior lighting that you can control, a heads-up display, and heated/ventilated seats. The Santa Fe can put a check next to each box in Calligraphy trim. The Limited trim also has many of those options, but not the soft-touch Nappa leather.

Sure, many of the basics of the base value-packed SE trim level model carry over through to the top-of-the-line Calligraphy version. But not many people complain about the eight-speed automatic or the 2.5-liter turbocharged gas engine that makes 277 horsepower. It also comes in Hybrid and PHEV trims, but we’re focusing on the gas-powered version here.

The inside of the Calligraphy is where it’s at

2023 Hyundai Calligraphy interior in black
2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy interior | Hyundai

Many luxury SUVs like to announce their presence with a giant shiny grille (ahem, Lexus), but Hyundai simply adds a few chrome bits outside. That’s fine because the premium-ness is apparent on the inside with the seats and doors covered in Nappa leather, a microfiber headliner, and a premium stereo.  

Sure, if you’re familiar with the $28,000 base version of the Santa Fe, you’ll see familiar trim bits. But, overall the Calligraphy does a good job of concealing its bargain roots and covering them in leather and cool diamond-pattern stitching and plastic. It’s also roomy, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Hyundai’s new tech helps, too

The Calligraphy comes with a giant 10.25-inch touchscreen as well as a large digital gauge cluster. It has eight-way driver and passenger seats that are, naturally, heated and cooled. Navigation-based cruise control is standard, as is Hyundai’s suite of driver’s aids and wireless charging. Hyundai also offers a phone app that lets you control many functions from outside the SUV, like a remote start.

What’s new for 2023?

2023 Calligraphy Santa Fe rear seats
The rear seats of the Calligraphy | Hyundai

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe is basically a carry-over model. There are a few changes, such as the availability of a black grille or silver grille on some trim levels, and new black door lower trim on the SEL model. The availability of the 12.3-digital instrument cluster and navigation-based smart cruise control has also expanded, as well as H-Tex Seating Surfaces in the base models.

The Santa Fe slots between the Tucson and the Palisade

A blue 2023 Hyundai Palisade midsize SUV is driving on the road.
The 2023 Hyundai Palisade | Hyundai

The Santa Fe is Hyundai’s mid-sized SUV, in that the Tucson is smaller and the Palisade is bigger. The Tucson and Santa Fe are strictly five-seat affairs, while the Palisade can seat up to eight.

How much is a fully-loaded Santa Fe?

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The Calligraphy trim adds every option except all-wheel drive, for a final price of $42,050. All-wheel drive adds $1,700 to any Santa Fe trim. Not everyone can fathom a $42,050 Hyundai, but, for the everything package, the Calligraphy seems to hold its own.