2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy Review - SUV VEHICLE

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy Review

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Sechelt, BC Hyundai has done a heck of a job reinventing the look of its models, seemingly with every new generation. The 2024 Santa Fe represents a dramatic visual departure from last year’s model, gaining a far more rugged appearance, especially with the XRT trim.

But there’s a lot more to the Santa Fe than just its macho new visage. The range-topping Ultimate Calligraphy trim (known as just “Calligraphy” in the US), still gets the square-jawed exterior, but also an interior that’s decidedly premium in look and feel.

Interior: Calligraphy’s Captain’s Chairs and Abundant Tech

My first impressions of our Ultimate Calligraphy tester’s interior were rather jaw-dropping. Finished in decadent, perforated Nappa leather, the light beige seats and armrests may not be the wisest choice for a vehicle aimed at an adventurous customer base. Still, there’s no denying its swanky style, especially offset by the dark green accents throughout the cabin. 

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy interior front cabin2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy interior front cabin
There are plenty of USB plug-in points and wireless chargers up front. Photo: Jeff Wilson

This top trim is the only one that gets the second-row captain’s chairs, which offer abundant space and comfort and are sure to make anyone stuck in the relatively tight third-row bench seat somewhat envious. There’s plenty to celebrate throughout the cabin, like ample USB plug-in points and a pair of wireless chargers up front.

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy interior front seats2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy interior front seats
A more premium environment inside the top Ultimate Calligraphy grade. Photo: Jeff Wilson

The 12.3-inch touchscreen display provides slick and responsive interaction with the onboard navigation, Bose audio system, and wirelessly connected smartphones. Should you feel the need to sterilize your phone (or other similarly-sized items), this Santa Fe even has an ultraviolet sterilizer compartment in the dash.

Performance and Driving Impressions: The 277 Horsepower 2.5L Turbocharged Engine

Complementing the Ultimate Calligraphy’s posh cabin, the new Santa Fe’s on-pavement demeanour is top-shelf, too. Typically, large wheels with skinny sidewall tires like those found here result in a harsh ride, but Hyundai’s engineers have done an excellent job with the Santa Fe’s suspension tuning, meaning that regardless of which trim is chosen, it’s a smooth operator. Supple yet composed, the Santa Fe still manages to keep its handling in check when asked to hustle on the curvy BC coastal roads. 

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy white rear view2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy white rear view
Two engine choices: this model finds the 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers a very usable 277 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. Photo: Jeff Wilson

It’s impressively quiet, too, with wind and road noise hushed to levels usually reserved for very high-end machines, allowing for greater enjoyment of the premium sound system. The engine noise only becomes notable when a driver accelerates briskly but quiets down nicely when cruising, even at speed. Compared to other mid-size, mainstream SUVs in the segment and last year’s Santa Fe, the elevated refinement of the new model makes the Ultimate Calligraphy trim feel more like a luxury offering than a mainstream one. 

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy white top view2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy white top view
2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy. Photo: Jeff Wilson

The two entry-level trims for the Santa Fe set to arrive later this spring will come exclusively with a 1.6L hybrid powertrain. The models we drove, including the XRT and this Ultimate Calligraphy, are fitted with the 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers a very usable 277 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. It made around-town driving effortless and had plenty of motivation for energetic passing maneuvers on the back roads of our drive route.

Styling: Blocky, Wide-Body Vibes and Cool Colour Options

The new Santa Fe resembles a Land Rover more closely than any other Hyundai, both inside and out. We suppose if you’re going to crib the style of another machine, you could do worse than copy off one of the coolest off-roaders out there. Still, despite its derivative shape, Hyundai has tried to imbue the Santa Fe with enough unique elements to make it distinctly a Hyundai, not the least of which are a series of “H” elements throughout and the unique, low-and-wide treatment to the taillights at the rear. 

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy white model with black wheels2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate Calligraphy white model with black wheels
Our model here with the available 21-inch alloy
wheels. Photo: Jeff Wilson

Hyundai also deserves praise for the broad colour options available on the Santa Fe. Where most manufacturers seem to present a half-dozen variations of grey and silver, the new Santa Fe is offered in some stunning shades, including a deep green, a vibrant orange or blue, and the “earthy brass,” a unique matte-finished copper colour. We just wish the pecan brown leather from the Luxury trim was available in the top-spec Nappa leather, too. 

Takeaway

2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate lineup2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate lineup
The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe Ultimate lineup. Photo: Jeff Wilson

The Santa Fe is an important model for Hyundai, and the level of investment put into this latest generation shows they recognize it. Hyundai has done a fantastic job of broadening the Santa Fe’s appeal in seemingly divergent ways, luring in a more adventurous customer to the XRT models, while elevating the Ultimate Calligraphy to a properly premium position. With its distinctive styling, impressive equipment offerings, and broad model line-up, Hyundai is poised for the 2024 Santa Fe to become a big success. 

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