Hyundai Motor Group is clearly feeling the rugged off-roader trend. Not so long after the introduction of the boxed-out Kia EV9, Hyundai has dramatically reworked its Santa Fe midsize SUV into a more rugged, adventure-focused all-wheeler. Santa Fe’s fifth generation was unveiled on Thursday. It featured hard squared panels with a stretched-out wheelbase. The vehicle also had a determined H bar glare and bulging fenders. Concept accessories were included to transform the Santa Fe into an adventure-ready machine. Hyundai also promises a roomy „terrace-like living space“ inspired by camping.
For comparison, take a look below at the previous 2023 Santa Fe. It’s an incredibly rounded and soft-edged SUV that would disappear in a parking lot filled with mom-mobiles. Santa Fe’s all-new design is a stark contrast, with a bolder, stronger design. The first look we saw brought to mind Toyota’s refocused Land Cruiser 250, while the photo at the top reminds us more of a Land Rover Defender decked out with full-length roof rack and accessory side pod.
That top photo is actually what Hyundai is calling the Santa Fe XRT Concept, and sadly it says there’s no plans for mass production. The XRT is currently the most rugged, outdoorsy Santa Fe trim, and if we use the concept as even a loose guide, the gen-5 Santa Fe XRT trim should prove more rugged than ever.
Hyundai began the Santa Fe’s dramatic redesign in an unlikely way, starting at the oft-overlooked rear-end rather than inside or up front. It widened out the tailgate area with the goal of making it more friendly to outdoor adventurer types, a strategy that results in a flat, roomy floor that feels inspired by a camper van, something Hyundai has some experience with outside North America.
The new Santa Fe follows the boxy shape of its rear end, which is dominated by the flat roofline that slopes ever so slightly downward. The rest of it continues along the level windshield to the hood and then over the vertical front. On the sides, the powerful fender flares are joined by strong, straight belt and character lines. The 190. 2-in (483-cm) SUV should be a welcome sight for anyone missing the upright strength of old-school midsize utility vehicles.
Along with a creating a tailgate area good for enjoying a morning cup within one’s natural surrounds, Hyundai’s lengthening and widening create what the company calls class-leading interior space. Both the second and third rows offer more legroom than the outgoing Santa Fe, and the reclining third row gains 2. 7 inches (6. 9 cm) of additional headroom courtesy of the higher, straight-shooting roof. Second row seats can be equipped with power-reclining armrests and independent seats. The front passenger seat is also available with a leg rest.
„The all-new Santa Fe is an SUV that finds a perfect balance between city life and the great outdoors, handling everything from busy family itineraries to camping adventures,“ said SangYup Lee, Hyundai executive VP and global design center chief. The new Santa Fe, with its larger wheelbase, spacious interior, and terrace-like reargate, leans on its SUV strengths in order to provide a more premium experience for customers. „
In North America (and South Korea), Hyundai will offer the Santa Fe with buyer’s choice of 277-hp 2. 5-liter turbo or 178-hp 1. 6-liter hybrid powertrain. A plug-in hybrid will join the 1. 6-liter hybrid as the European options. The driver-assistance technology will include forward collision prevention, lane-following assist, navigation-based smart cruise controls, rear-passenger reminder, and more.
Sales of the all-new Santa Fe will start first in South Korea this month, expanding to North America and Europe in the first half of 2024.