It's been over a week since Hyundai unveiled the totally redesigned Santa Fe and now the "Asian Defender" has been spotted in its domestic market. South Korean car paparazzi stumbled upon this production-ready prototype that thankfully didn't have any camouflage whatsoever. This test vehicle is a bit different since it's the PHEV that wasn't mentioned in the initial press release. In fact, technical specifications are still shrouded in mystery.
Riding on 20-inch wheels with 255/45 tires, the 2024 Santa Fe in PHEV flavor has a "plug-in" badge on its massive tailgate while the charging port is located on the right-side rear fender, with the fuel cap for the gas tank located on the driver's side. Hyundai has made generous use of glossy black exterior trim and darkened the headlights as well as all the badging. We're still captivated by how wildly different the design is compared to the outgoing model.
In the video below, a different prototype shows the fifth-generation midsize SUV in all-black attire. It's presumably a different trim level judging by the different front grille with silver squares instead of the black honeycomb pattern of the PHEV variant. Both have the exhaust tip tucked away underneath the bumper, but the official images attached at the bottom show the new Santa Fe with the exhaust featuring an angular finisher sticking out from the bumper.
The black prototype sits on smaller 18-inch wheels with a two-tone look and gets a silver "Santa Fe" trim piece on the front fender whereas on the other prototype, it's finished in black. The man with the camera couldn't peek inside, but Hyundai has already revealed the interior and it too represents a massive departure from the old model. It's going to be roomier since the wheelbase has been stretched, and it's easy to see the next-gen vehicle is large. In fact, we're wondering whether it's any smaller than the fullsize Palisade.
Mind you, this isn't the first time we’re seeing the new Santa Fe out in the open considering a couple of prototypes were spotted days after the official debut. We'll have to wait until sometime in August for Hyundai to release full details about the boxy SUV. From the official pics, we noticed a "2.5T" badge alongside an "HTRAC" logo, so we know at least one configuration that will be available. Make that two now that a PHEV has been caught.