When it comes to choices for an overlanding vehicle, Hyundai’s Santa Fe SUV is likely down the list for most people. More soccer team transporter than rock crawler, the Santa Fe has been in Hyundai’s lineup for decades, but a restyle and enlargement for 2024 and a new concept vehicle may indicate the South Korean carmaker is looking to expand the model’s horizons.
The Santa Fe XRT Concept includes a number of enhancements for better off-road prowess, including more ground clearance, better approach/departure angles, beefy BF Goodrich all-terrain tires, and a new squared-off styling that fits with the current “boxy” design that signals off-road intentions and echoes other brands styling, such as the Land Rover Defender. The 2024 iteration marks the fifth generation of the Santa Fe. The front LED headlight array hews to the new squared-off design seen on Hyundai’s electric and hybrid models.
A hybrid will be available for the 2024 models, but it appears there will not be a plug-in hybrid option. The base motor will be a turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four, making 277 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. There are no exact specs on the hybrid setup, but the previous Santa Fe hybrid used a smaller 1.6-liter turbo four and made about 260 horsepower total. The transmission looks to be an eight-speed auto with a Tesla-like column-mounted stalk shift controller. It does not appear any manual option will be offered. Drivers can choose from front or four-wheel drive.
Other XRT Concept add-ons include a rear ladder for roof access, mounting points for external bits, including gas cans, a spare tire, and other accessories, and a much more robust roof rack that should support a rooftop tent. Small tabs on the front fender flares offer mounting points for action cameras to record adventures, but they also appear to be somewhat vulnerable to impacts from trailside foliage.
The interior design looks to be trending toward a more minimalist aesthetic, with a tidy center console featuring a landscape-style 12.3-inch center touchscreen and HVAC vents that help form a continuous line across the cabin to the steering wheel. The glovebox also includes a tray that reportedly sports an ultraviolet light system for sanitizing small objects, according to Car and Driver.
Hyundai didn’t give a look at the inside of the XRT Concept to see if there were any changes there, but the 2024 reskin does include a third row of seats for U.S. models thanks to a longer wheelbase. For overlanding, the third and second rows of seats fold flat and can translate to more cargo capacity or even a possible interior sleeping setup. Besides the larger wheelbase, the 2024 Santa Fe is larger in almost every other metric as well.
More details about the new Sante Fe, including pricing, are expected later this year. Vehicles are expected to reach dealerships in the first half of 2024. The XRT Concept is not expected to become a production model but could show a direction Hyundai is considering in terms of options, accessories, and perhaps a more overlanding-equipped future trim option.