Hyundai Santa Fe’s Makeover Radical, Captivating

A 2024 10 Best Interiors & UX winner, the CUV’s rugged, chiseled exterior carries over inside the cabin, where Hyundai’s H-shaped design theme creates the aura of an interior carved from granite.

David Zoia, Senior Director-Content

June 3, 2024

3 Min Read
2024 Hyundai Santa Fe
Santa Fe’s cockpit not only looks great, it’s chock-full of features.Christie Schweinsberg

Transformative.

That’s the word that immediately leaps to mind when encountering the new Hyundai Santa Fe, named one of the 2024 Wards 10 Best Interiors & UX winners.

In revamping the Santa Fe for the 2024 model year, Hyundai designers reversed course from previous generations of the midsize CUV, creating an entirely new, distinctive look, backed by outstanding functionality and intriguing materials and features that simply wowed our judges.

“Hyundai has basically ripped up the playbook for this vehicle,” notes one judge on their 10 Best scoresheet. “This interior is very strong aesthetically.”

Hyunai Santa Fe screen at night.jpeg

The Sante Fe’s rugged, chiseled exterior carries over inside the cabin, where a linear instrument panel; rectangular vents; large, curved, horizontal screen; and more-vertical, sharp lines and edges – a design theme Hyundai describes as H-shaped – create the aura of an interior carved from granite.

The cabin of our top-of-the-line, all-wheel-drive Calligraphy-trim model, $50,905 as tested, came decked out in a striking pale beige and green color scheme, accented with brushed aluminum and birch-tree-like trim that further brighten the cabin. The uniquely H-patterned Nappa leather-trimmed seats and Eco-Suede microfiber headliner added to the vehicle’s luxurious appearance.

But the Santa Fe not only looks great, it functions well too. The infotainment system is easy to connect with and operates quickly and intuitively. Its crisp display screen features large, easily accessed buttons and menus. The head-up display and 12.3-in. (31-cm) instrument cluster supply the critical information to the driver, as well as contribute to the cabin’s overall premium ambience.

Doors can be unlocked and the vehicle started via a smartphone digital key and – in what may be an industry first – there’s a UV-C sterilizer glove compartment that uses ultraviolet light to sanitize frequently handled items such as phones, wallets and eyeglasses.

Hyundai Santa Fe UV sanitizer.jpeg

With a dual charger in the center console for use by both the driver and passenger, USB ports scattered throughout the cabin and access to a 110V outlet in the back, “if you can’t keep your phone charged in the Santa Fe, you need a new phone,” one tester points out. 

There’s a long list of driver-assistance equipment, including adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping technology that together work as confidently as any Level 2 automated-driving system we’ve tested.

There also are a number of comfort and convenience touches. The roughly 2 ins. (5 cm) added to the vehicle’s wheelbase allows for a third-row jump seat for passenger-carrying flexibility. A power-operated second row, controlled at the seat or through the infotainment screen, provides for easier entree to the vehicle’s third row or to maximize cargo capacity at the touch of a button. A “relax mode” button deploys a power-operated, extendable leg rest and reclines the seat, increasing comfort for the driver when the vehicle is parked.

And there are clever extras, as well, like the dual-opening center console box that easily can be accessed from the first and second rows and storage shelves under the center console and above the glove compartment.

When it comes to interior/UX makeovers, it would be hard to point to one more dramatic – or as successfully executed – as the Santa Fe.

Hyundai Santa Fe Exterior.jpeg

About the Author(s)

David Zoia

Senior Director-Content, WardsAuto

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