Whereas Hyundai was as soon as recognized for cheap, drab financial system automobiles, the Korean automaker’s lineup now options among the most distinctive designs in the marketplace. The shift, led by design chief SangYup Lee, is completely encapsulated by the 2024 Santa Fe. Just some years in the past, the Santa Fe was a fine-looking however unimaginative crossover, however a facelift for 2021 introduced an unorthodox, catfish-like face that helped it stand out. Now the 2024 Santa Fe distinguishes itself much more throughout the crowded mid-size-SUV section with a daring, boxy look that matches into Hyundai’s design language whereas nonetheless wanting totally different than the remainder of the lineup.
In contrast with the easily styled outgoing Santa Fe, the 2024 mannequin is all arduous edges and straight traces, with an oblong physique form and an assertive stance because of trapezoidal wheel arches. The 2024 Santa Fe’s size has grown by 1.8 inches, and the boxy profile helps it seem greater and extra imposing than earlier than. An almost 2.0-inch-longer wheelbase additionally provides it a extra planted look.
The sharper styling falls in step with many latest Hyundai merchandise, however the Korean automaker has impressively averted the Russian-nesting-doll technique employed by many different corporations. Mercedes-Benz, for instance, is especially egregious with its “similar sausage, totally different sizes” philosophy, with the CLA-, C-, and S-class sedans just about indistinguishable to the common particular person exterior of their general dimensions.
Hyundai, in the meantime, has managed to maintain a typical design theme whereas giving every automotive a novel look. The Santa Fe shares its razor-edged creases with the smaller Tucson crossover and electrical Ioniq 5 however retains the traces straight and horizontal. The opposite two automobiles create triangular indentations that give a extra dynamic, sporting look versus the butch, robust look of the Santa Fe. Even the Ioniq 6, with its curvier profile and smoother surfaces, appears to be like like it’s a part of the identical household because the Santa Fe because of its smooth, unorthodox design and expressive lighting and trim items.
It definitely seems that Hyundai cribbed some design options from different automakers, however the finish product nonetheless appears to be like distinct. The general boxy form and the body-colored trim on the rear facet home windows recall the present Land Rover Defender, however the entrance and rear fascias make it clear that this SUV hails from Seoul, South Korea, not Coventry, England. The squared-off physique additionally provides hints of the Ford Flex, though we doubt Hyundai seemed to that deceased crossover/station wagon mashup for inspiration.
Together with sharp floor therapies, Hyundai has set itself aside from different automakers with its hanging lighting components. The present Tucson, Santa Cruz pickup, and Palisade characteristic a shield-like array of lights that mix into the grille, whereas Hyundai’s Ioniq electrical autos have adopted an ’80s-themed pixel lighting type that recollects outdated 8-bit video video games. The Santa Fe straddles that boundary—the headlights are built-in into the grille with a skinny mild bar connecting the 2 most important items, which characteristic a blocky “H” graphic that appears just like the pixel lights on the Ioniq lineup. That “H” motif additionally seems within the entrance bumper and the taillights, that are notably uncommon for a way low they sit within the bumper.
Styling is, after all, subjective, and never everybody will love the look of the 2024 Santa Fe. However there isn’t a denying that Hyundai has created a distinctive-looking crossover and has crafted a household of autos that share widespread traits with out all wanting the identical. Even in the event you’re not a fan of the styling dangers the Korean automaker is taking, Hyundai has undoubtedly come a good distance because the days of bland, A-to-B transport within the early 2000s.
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Caleb Miller started running a blog about automobiles at 13 years outdated, and he realized his dream of writing for a automotive journal after graduating from Carnegie Mellon College and becoming a member of the Automobile and Driver crew. He loves quirky and obscure autos, aiming to sooner or later personal one thing weird like a Nissan S-Cargo, and is an avid motorsports fan.