Review: 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe marks impressive end to a generation
This fourth generation of the Hyundai Santa Fe entered the market in 2019 and was refreshed with some styling updates in 2021. Now, in 2023, it’s in its final year as a model before the new fifth-generation comes for 2024. And it’s very likable. Its replacement? Well, we’ll see.
At a Glance
- Great bang for the buck with its feature sets
- Infotainment is a bit clunky, especially with Auto/CarPlay
- Five drivetrain options
- Next generation will be ... different
The fifth-generation coming in 2024 has decidedly Land Rover looks and marks a complete design shift for Hyundai. One that will be polarizing for sure. Which means, if you’re not in the market for something like that, this is your last chance to get a Santa Fe with more contemporary styling for your driveway.
The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe comes in a bunch of flavors, all with five seats. There are five trim levels and four drivetrain choices to make. The base powertrain is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that outputs 191 hp (142 kW) to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional. The base SE model comes with LED headlamps, a 60/40 split-fold rear seat, 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and most of the expected advanced safety systems and driver’s aids (including adaptive cruise control). It only goes up from there.
Going up the ladder to the near-top Limited trim adds a turbo to the engine to boost horsepower to 281 (209 kW). And as would be expected when going this high up in the trim levels, the interior gets a lot more posh with this model. We drove this version and were amazed at how well outfitted it was with a price tag barely reaching over US$41,000, yet including things like semi-automated parking and rain-sensing wipers. In today’s market, that’s very cheap.
The other two powertrains for the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe include a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid model. The hybrid utilizes a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and electric motors with a six-speed automatic transmission with AWD. This outputs 226 combined horsepower (168 kW) and gets about 10% better highway fuel economy and over 30% better city mileage versus the non-turbo standard gasoline model. Our real-world use of the turbocharged standard gasoline model this year returned a 27.3 mpg (8.6 l/100km) average on our 42-mile (67.6-km) highway loop at high altitude. Very close to its 28 mpg (8.4 l/100km) rating. Our hybrid model test drive last year bested the 31 mpg (7.6 l/100km) highway expectation by 0.5 mpg.
The Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV has a similar setup to the hybrid model, but with a combined output of 261 hp (195 kW) and a larger battery. This battery is capable of about 30 miles (48 km) of driving per charge and is otherwise fairly close to the hybrid model’s mpg returns.
Inside, whatever version of the 2023 Santa Fe one climbs in, there is a lot of room. Front driver and passenger seating is good with plenty of adjustability and a lot of storage options. Infotainment is slow, however, and our use of Android Auto was hit-and-miss at best. Using the in-built system was faster for most things, especially navigation and streaming, which both work well via Bluetooth without using Auto. We did not test Apple CarPlay, but others reviewing this vehicle have found similar issues there.
Cargo space is very good in the Hyundai Santa Fe. It’s a nice, square-shaped SUV, so the back hatch and square opening are easy to utilize. The rear seats fold almost completely flat, giving a nice large space when needed. There is also space underneath the rear cover if things like bread need to be stored against crushing. But note that the hybrid and PHEV models don't have that same available added space.
That added rear storage space, separated into three bins with a removable or manipulate-able cover, is one of the smartest things we’ve seen in cargo spaces in a long time. It comes at the price of not having a spare tire, but an inflation kit sits in the space just ahead of those bins.
This last model of the fourth-generation Hyundai Santa Fe is a solid entry into the midsized two-row market. With a 10-year powertrain warranty and a lot of stuff for the price, it’s a great choice.
The 2023 Santa Fe has a starting price of about US$30,000 plus delivery.
Product Page: 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe