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2024 Hyundai Santa Fe First Drive for Canada: Fortune Favours the Brave

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe | Photo: B.Charette
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Benoit Charette
The revised SUV offers three rows of standard seats ... and an audacious new design

Rock Water Secret Cove, BC - When Hyundai wants to shake things up, it’s not afraid to go all the way. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Santa Fe, Hyundai has come up with a revised SUV that stands in stark contrast to all its predecessors. In the past, this strategy has served the Korean automaker well. The Sonata, the Elantra, the Tucson – all have had the magic wand waved at them.

The all-new 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
The all-new 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe | Photo: B.Charette

Design of the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during the Hyundai design meetings when the conception of the new Santa Fe was happening. Some would say they'd smoked some good stuff. Others will simply trot out the truism that fortune favours the brave. 

In any event, the new SUV’s box-like exterior is inspired by Land Rover and surrounds a more modern interior. Sharp angles, straight lines and a floating roof give it a rugged yet modern look, and the "H" motif of the light signature is unique to the Santa Fe. 

The SUV retains its place in the Hyundai range between the compact Tucson and the larger Palisade, but with three rows of seats as standard. The tailgate is impressively large, offering a wider opening, leading to what Hyundai calls a terrace-like interior space. 

Hyundai is also targeting adventure enthusiasts with the XRT version, which comes with a roof rail, off-road tires and higher ground clearance for playing in the wild. You can even fit a tent on the roof. 

Interior of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
Interior of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe | Photo: B.Charette
Seating of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
Seating of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe | Photo: B.Charette

Larger exterior dimensions translate into a more spacious interior, with those three rows of seats. You'll be impressed by the features, space and design of the new model. A rotating column gearshift on the steering wheel frees up the centre console.

The 2024 Santa Fe even offers a first-of-its-kind UV-C sterilization tray located on top of the glovebox, an idea a little late for the pandemic but still. 

The interior is packed with other high-end touches, such as a power-adjustable steering column. Materials are of impressive quality, and there's plenty of space in the second and even third rows to accommodate adults. You can choose between a six- or seven-passenger configuration. 

Cargo capacity in the back is truly impressive. The second and third rows fold virtually flat, and the huge tailgate is designed for maximum opening, with hydraulic arms on the outside to maximize space.

Multimedia screen of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
Multimedia screen of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe | Photo: B.Charette

Technology and safety
The dashboard is dominated by two 12.3-inch screens, one serving as the driver's gauge cluster and the other as an infotainment touchscreen. Despite half the space being taken up by screens, Hyundai has had the good sense to leave physical buttons for items such as climate control and audio volume for ease of use. 

A dual wireless charger is optional, but there are also USB-C ports for wired charging. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard features. 

The Santa Fe comes with a ton of driver assistance technology as standard, including adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. 

Glimpse of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
Glimpse of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe | Photo: B.Charette

Versions of the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai will eventually offer five versions of the new Santa Fe. The entry-level model is the Preferred, which comes with the 1.6L hybrid engine, 12.3-inch touchscreen, Bluelink Connected Car, wireless Android Auto/Apple Carplay and numerous SmartSense safety features. 

The XRT version gets the more powerful 2.5L engine and offers additional performance thanks to exterior and interior differentiation, exclusive 18-inch XRT wheels with off-road tires and increased ground clearance. 

The Luxury variant is equipped with top-of-the-range features such as leather seats, ventilated front seats, IMS driver's seat, 12.3-inch infotainment system with navigation, panoramic and blind vision monitor, etc., etc. 

The Ultimate Calligraphy version is fully equipped with top-of-the-range features such as second-row captain's chairs, massaging driver's seat, charging for two wireless devices, UV disinfectant tray and a top-of-the-range Bose audio system. 

Hyundai has also announced an NHL version with equipment comparable to the Ultimate model, but with the 1.6-liter engine, to come a little later on.

See : Montreal 2024: Hyundai Santa Fe gets Canada-Only NHL Edition

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe, profile
2024 Hyundai Santa Fe, profile | Photo: B.Charette

Powertrains of the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe

Preferred versions offer a 1.6-liter turbo hybrid engine with 231 hp and 271 lb-ft of torque and a 6-speed automatic transmission. The others come with a 2.5L turbocharged inline-4 generating 277 hp, complemented by an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. 

It should be noted that later this year, an NHL version, which will be the most expensive model, will complete the range with a hybrid powertrain.

Exterior design of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
Exterior design of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe | Photo: B.Charette

Driving the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe

Driving comfort remains the top priority for the new Santa Fe. While the power of the 2.5L engine is good, we didn't appreciate the hesitant, erratic throttle. Handling isn't athletic, but most SUV buyers have never put driving at the top of their priorities. 

If you're looking for a more dynamic driving experience, we suggest the Mazda CX-90 or, as a plan B, a Kia Sorento. 

Wheel of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
Wheel of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe | Photo: B.Charette

Driving silence is good, overall comfort appreciable and in the end, you get a lot of SUV for your money. 

Hyundai claims fuel consumption of 10.8L/100 km for its 2.5L version. Our test drive produced results of around 12.2L/100 km on secondary roads, usually at speeds under 80 km/h. Unconvincing results. 

At launch, the 1.6L engine was not available.

The final word
The Hyundai Santa Fe 2024 promises a new chapter in the history of this popular SUV. With its bold design, refined performance and versatile features, it promises to be a must-have choice for those seeking the perfect balance of style, comfort and adventure. With a realistic price and a first-rate warranty, this Sante Fe is destined for a bright future. 

Questions we’re asking
As Hyundai redefines its mid-size SUV model, we have to ask ourselves what the Korean brand is going to do with its Palisade model. Will it go in the same direction as the Santa Fe, or keep a more conservative clientele? We'll soon find out.

Strong points

  • Unique styling
  • Appreciable overall comfort
  • Well-designed interior

Weak points

  • DCT transmission needs rethinking (with 2.5L engine)
  • Disappointing fuel consumption
Glimpse of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe from rear
Glimpse of 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe from rear | Photo: B.Charette

Competitors of the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe

  • - Chevrolet Traverse
  • - GMC Acadia
  • - Honda Pilot
  • - Kia Sorento
  • - Mazda CX-90
  • - Volkswagen Tiguan
Benoit Charette
Benoit Charette
Automotive expert
  • More than 30 years of experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 65 test drives last year
  • Attended more than 200 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists