(Images: TFL Studios courtesy of Yeng Lo)
I think the best expression here would be “big oof”.
There are times when you sort of venture into the unknown with prototype shots and have to make a judgment call on what a heavily camouflaged car could be based on some existing knowledge and what context you can actually see. A little over a week ago, I decided that this was an early prototype for the Hyundai Ioniq 7. That was based on what I knew at the time, and allow me this opportunity to say this: Holy crap, what I ever wrong in that impression.
What we are looking at, according to several Korean-focused car blogs that are far more in the know, appears to be the fifth-generation, 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe.
Based on some of the more recent spy photos we’ve seen, particularly showing the Kia EV9, I was under the mistaken impression that Hyundai was primarily focusing on the same sort of vehicle for its next imminent launch. Had I been more thorough in my due diligence, I would have landed upon this Korean Car Blog coverage, and several other outlets besides, noting the Santa Fe in transit from South Korea for testing.
Obviously, I missed that, and apologize for my massive error and will do my best to avoid making that mistake in the future. With all that out of the way, let’s home in on what Hyundai likely has in store for its updated midsize SUV below.
So, whoat information is out there on the new Hyundai Santa Fe?
The current, fourth-generation Hyundai Santa Fe made its appearance back in 2018, for the 2019 model year. Since then, we’ve seen a decently substantial facelift for the 2021 model year. That said, the car is still fundamentally the same, and 2024 will mark the sixth model year that we’ve had with the existing version (dubbed “TM” using Hyundai’s internal designation).
A four to six-year cycle more or less falls in line with the industry standard for redesigns, so it makes sense that we’d see a new Santa Fe emerge right about now. Hyundai revamped the first and second generations after five model years (2001-2006 and 2007-2012). The third generation stuck around a bit longer in its long-wheelbase form (2013-2020), but the short-wheelbase version went, once again, after five years (2013-2018). The automaker’s been remarkably consistent, not to mention this is a fiercely competitive segment. It makes sense for Hyundai to get this new Santa Fe out as soon as possible, especially with sister company Kia’s strides to update its lineup, including the all-new Sorento and, more recently, the smaller Sportage.
As for what powertrains to expect, we’ll have to wait and see. It’s likely the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe will maintain a similar lineup, as the fifth-generation model debuted with new “Smartstream” engines. In the US, we should see a hybrid and plug-in hybrid version, though we’ll see if Hyundai continues pure gasoline-powered options.
What’s happening on the inside?
One shot of the interior showed a Hyundai logo on the glass, so at least that part is correct from the earlier post. There’s not much we can see beyond that, unfortunately. However, what we can see seems to reveal some substantial changes from the dashboard down. The exterior shots reveal a far boxier shape than the current Santa Fe, so the upper A-pillars and the roof could be quite different from the fifth-generation model as well.
In short: It appears that the 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe will be a major overhaul, if not a complete clean-sheet redesign. The body will bear little if any resemblance to the current model (for better or worse, depending on who you ask). The interior may see a similarly radical treatment, though we’ll have to wait for less camouflaged prototypes to emerge.
I’m also excited to see what’s in store for the Hyundai Ioniq 7, since we once again have no official idea what that will entail beyond the Seven Concept’s cues.