The Hyundai Santa Fe has never been much of a looker—or much of anything, really. But Hyundai took the scalpel to its mid-size three-row for 2024 and redesigned it from the ground up. Now the SUV has a bolder, boxier design that actually makes it stand out in a crowded parking lot. It also has premium features that tick nearly every box for buyers in this segment.

I spent the holiday weekend behind the wheel of a 2024 Calligraphy model, the fanciest and priciest Santa Fe of the bunch. It feels every bit as good as its $50,905 asking price suggests; The seats are sumptuous, the cabin is loaded with features, and it's kind of fun to drive with the bigger engine in our tester.

I was already a fan of the Santa Fe’s bold styling from the jump—especially this one with its Earthy Brass matte finish. But it only took a few minutes behind the wheel for me to really like everything else about this new Hyundai SUV. I still need more time with the Santa Fe to get a better idea of what it’s like to live with, but so far so good.

What’s Good So Far?

  • Awesome design. Like I said, not everyone will be enamored with the styling of the Santa Fe—but I love it. Even with so many SUVs going for the boxy aesthetic these days, the Santa Fe still feels like a fresh take. It has a nearly flat rear, eight-bit light fixtures, and a glass greenhouse that connects the font and rear almost seamlessly.
  • Lovely cabin. Being the top-of-the-line Calligraphy model, the interior is properly premium. But even the basic shape and layout—which extends to lesser mid-range and base models—works exceptionally well. The dash has a nice flat design, the front compartment is extra roomy, and you still get a huge center storage compartment with dual wireless charging.
  • Fun powertrain. The turbocharged 2.5-liter engine standard on the Calligraphy model delivers a healthy 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. It’s actually pretty punchy. What’s interesting, though, is that the Santa Fe has a dual-clutch transmission instead of a normal automatic. That means you can rip off snappy shifts.

What’s Bad So Far?

  • Slightly Clunky Powertrain. A turbocharged 2.5-liter engine and a dual-clutch gearbox are a fun combo that would be perfect in something like a hot hatchback. But for a family SUV, it feels a little clunky. Gear changes aren’t totally smooth, especially at low speeds, and the engine is a bit harsh.
  • ???. Beyond some powertrain issues, I’m struggling to find things to hate about the new Santa Fe. The design definitely won’t win everyone over, but beyond that, this is easily one of Hyundai’s best SUVs.
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