As I write this review of the AWD 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, it was announced that the 2024 model will debut as a new larger, three-row, boxy look SUV that slots between the Hyundai’s compact Tucson and midsize Palisade SUVs. Personally, I like the current look and aside from the Hyundai Tucson, the carmaker’s top selling SUV and one of our favorites, Santa Fe was a close second in sales as it is a bit larger offering more interior space.
Offered in SE, SEL, XRT, Limited and top-shelf Calligraphy that we tested, Santa Fe is also available as a Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid.
Santa Fe was a popular choice among buyers as it was Kelly Blue Book’s Best Buy Award winner for 2023. So the new version will have to meet or beat the 2023 in these regards.
The 2023 Santa Fe has a futuristic look with its LED headlights and darkened grille, and in the rear, a single Ovid-shaped tailpipe and nicely rounded curves makes for an overall classy, sporty look.
Santa Fe’s interior in the Calligraphy was very classy and upscale. Its vertical stack resembles a control panel you’d see in a corporate jet. In place of a gear shift for the 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, Santa Fe uses large separate push buttons for Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive modes. This is supplemented with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. Next to the shifter is a rotary mode switch that offers Comfort, Smart, Sport and Snow modes. And in the center of the switch is a Lock function to lock the rear diff when traction gets extra tough.
Above it all is a vivid 10.25-inch touchscreen that serves a host of functions and features including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto connectivity, a rearview camera with overhead view plus a frontal camera.
A 12.3-inch configurable digital gauge cluster displays mode selections, driver information, left and right-side blind spot view cameras when activating either turn signal, and more. The latter cameras are built into the side of the side view cameras.
Heated/cooled Nappa leather front seats are supportive and comfy with under thigh support and an easy 20-inch step-in. Rear seats are also sofa soft and can accommodate two adults or three tweens as the transaxle hump is low allowing for middle seat leg room.
Back in the spacious cargo area that has a 31-inch lift-over, and with the second row upright, there’s 36.4 cubic feet of cargo space that measures 43 inches deep, 45 wide and 30 high. Flip the second row by pushing two buttons, and cargo capacity expands to 72.1 cubic feet for 74 inches of loading depth – a full six feet.
Below the cargo floor is a three-partition foam bin for stowing small items out of sight. There’s also tire inflator kit in lieu of a spare tire.
Santa Fe has a few other nifty features especially Remote Smart Parking Assist wherein the driver can use the key fob to parallel and perpendicular park the SUV from inside or outside of the vehicle.
Santa Fe Calligraphy was powered by a 2.5-liter, turbo 4-cylinder that generates 281-hp and 311 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 21 city, 28-highway mpg with auto start/stop engine technology. Coupled to the 8-speed transmission, Santa Fe offers a tow rating of 3,500 pounds with trailer brakes. With turbo boost, the 2.5L moves Santa Fe with potent quickness in standing stop or highway. passing acceleration. And especially so in Sport mode.
Ride wise, Santa Fe’s suspension is set up for Comfort mode and it does ride comfortably on Continental 20-inch tires. And it parks easily as it has a tight 37.4 foot turning diameter. For snowy conditions, Santa Fe has 8.2 inches of ground clearance that can handle modest snow depths and semi-harsh off-road conditions. But it’s not suited for rock hopping.
The Calligraphy trim version came with a long list of safety features such as forward collision assist, blind spot collision avoidance, rear cross traffic alert, parking collision avoidance assist, lane following assist, driver attention warning and engine immobilizer.
With these and a host of standard features such as wireless phone charging, Harmon Kardon premium audio, Bluelink, satellite radio and more. With all the aforementioned, Santa Fe carried a bottom line of $45,255 with a $210 delivery charge.
The Santa Fe came with very impressive government safety scores of a full five stars for an overall rating, five for driver/passenger frontal crash, five for front/rear side crash and four for rollover.
Lastly, and it should be well known by now that Hyundai vehicles offer the most generous warranties of 5 year/60K new vehicle warranty, 10/100K powertrain, 7/Unlimited anti-perforation, and 5/Unlimited roadside assistance.
Unless you have a large family and need three-row seating, the 2023 Santa Fe can be a compellingly complete SUV for a family of four. It offers ride, handling, utility and respectful fuel economy.