2023 Hyundai Santa Fe

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
2022
The Car Connection
2022
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
July 10, 2022

Buying tip

The Santa Fe SEL Premium Hybrid offers great economy and value.

features & specs

Calligraphy AWD
Calligraphy FWD
Limited AWD
MPG
21 city / 28 hwy
MPG
22 city / 28 hwy
MPG
21 city / 28 hwy
MSRP
$43,750
MSRP
$42,050
MSRP
$41,750

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe crossover SUV posts great gas mileage and safety scores in Hybrid spec, but the Calligraphy edition will lure drivers who want real luxury, not near-luxury.

What kind of vehicle is the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe? What does it compare to?

A mid-size crossover SUV, the 2023 Santa Fe can seat up to five people, and spans a gamut of performance from frugal 4-cylinder power to efficient plug-in driving. With plain base versions and a ritzy Calligraphy edition, it rivals the Nissan Murano, Honda Passport, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and its mechanical cousin, the Kia Sorento. 

Is the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe a good SUV?

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Five-person families who want safe, efficient wheels will love it. We give it a strong TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe?

The former SEL Convenience model is gone, and synthetic leather upholstery now comes on the XRT and SEL Premium versions. Hyundai also has made adaptive cruise control, blind-spot cameras, the 10.3-inch touchscreen, and the power tailgate available on a wider range of trims.

Hyundai injected some drama into the Santa Fe back in 2021 with revamped front and rear ends, but the result comes off busy. The crossover’s cutlines break up its otherwise standard-issue SUV body too often, but the XRT’s dark gloss trim mutes the effect somewhat. Inside, the Santa Fe has a refined ambiance, with confident splashes of metallic trim among its podlike air vents and touchscreens ranging from 8.0 inches to 10.3 inches.

A base Santa Fe comes with a 191-hp inline-4 and an 8-speed automatic, and doesn’t offer much excitement. The 277-hp turbo-4 moves more quickly but its dual-clutch automatic bobbles and pauses too much. The 226-hp Hybrid strikes us as the best compromise between efficiency and smooth output—unless you want to spend into the mid-$40,000s for a 261-hp plug-in hybrid, the most frugal and most expensive Santa Fe of all. No matter which model you choose, ride quality stands out in front of steering precision; the Santa Fe’s a cruiser, poised even when fitted with smaller wheels and tires.

A cabin optimized for four 6-foot-tall people and their belongings can be pressed into five-passenger duty. The Santa Fe has well-shaped front seats that come with cloth, synthetic leather, or nappa leather, with power adjustment, heating, and cooling. The second-row seat can also be heated. Cargo space swells to 72.1 cubic feet when the back seats are folded down, but there’s no third-row seat option. For that, you’ll need to step into the bigger Palisade.

The Santa Fe sports standard automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and automatic high-beam headlights. A surround-view camera system sits on the options list (it’s standard on the highest-end models), as does a head-up display. The IIHS and the NHTSA give the mid-size SUV excellent crash-test scores, too.

How much does the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe cost?

Prices aren’t confirmed for 2023 yet, but the Santa Fe SE should cost about $30,000. It has 18-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The mid-range Santa Fe SEL adds a few grand with its wireless smartphone charging, power driver seat, and remote start. For about $40,000, the Santa Fe Hybrid brings high fuel economy ratings with its leather upholstery, digital gauges, and panoramic roof. 

Where is the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe made?

It’s built in Alabama, but plug-in hybrids hail from Ulsan, South Korea.

6

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe

Styling

The Santa Fe has a busy body, but it calms down inside.

Is the Hyundai Santa Fe a good-looking car?

It’s pleasant to sit in, but we’d tone down some exterior details if we were the designers. It’s a 6 here, with a point above average for the cabin.

The Santa Fe leans into its standard-issue SUV shape with lots of stamped-in curves and character lines. Split headlights pin its textured split grille to the front end in letter-T shapes; it’s all made more complex by metallic bands that span the lower part of the front end. Heavy side sculpting and cutlines around the wheels keep the semi-frenzy going until it peters out at stock-and-trade taillights. The XRT mutes some of the fussy lines with its dark trim.

The cabin soothes, by comparison, with an 8.0- or 10.3-inch touchscreen that perches atop the dual-level dash. Hyundai groups controls around pod-shaped vents and clusters them around a control pad, while the console gets studded by an electronic shifter. It’s neatly organized and well done, and in pricey Limited and Calligraphy models, it’s gorgeous, with nappa leather, ambient lighting, and a 12.3-inch digital cluster.

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6

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe

Performance

The Santa Fe plug-in has the best efficiency and ride.

The latest Santa Fe sports a family of 4-cylinder engines with turbos or hybrid systems, teamed with an independent suspension tuned for comfort. It’s a winning combination, and it’s best—of course—in the most complex and expensive versions. Still, based on the performance of the most common base models, it’s a 6 here, with an extra point for ride quality. 

Is the Hyundai Santa Fe 4WD?

Front-wheel drive can be upgraded to all-wheel drive on any non-Hybrid Santa Fe. AWD comes standard on Hybrids and Plug-In Hybrids. 

How fast is the Hyundai Santa Fe?

Hyundai fits its 191-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 and 8-speed automatic to the base Santa Fe. We haven’t driven it in this vehicle, but in many other vehicles we’ve come to appreciate its linear power, even if it’s doled out in moderation, with no small amount of drivetrain noise. With a likely 0-60 mph time of about eight seconds, this Santa Fe’s good for most light-duty family chores.

We have mixed feelings about the 277-hp 2.5-liter turbo-4 on the options list. It pumps 311 lb-ft of torque through a dual-clutch 8-speed automatic—and while it’s more responsive to heavy throttle inputs, the transmission can feel uncoordinated at low speeds. It’s eager to move but less than smooth until it’s dialed into Sport drive mode, which lets revs linger higher and sorts out shift quality by speeding up gear changes.

If you tow, you’ll need the turbo-4 to pull the Santa Fe’s 4,000 lb of curb weight along with anything close to its max tow rating of 3,500 lb. 

With 8.2 inches of ground clearance and available all-wheel drive, the Santa Fe can drive beyond the end of the pavement, but it’s best thought of as an all-weather traction appliance.

With its four-wheel independent suspension and electric power steering, the 2023 Santa Fe has predictable but unremarkable handling. Even on 19-inch wheels, it’s a poised vehicle that can handle pavement seams and deep ruts with equal aplomb, combined with more than the usual suspension noise. It responds to quick steering inputs without getting a temper, and it’s very good at softening the low, long ripples of poorly maintained interstates. 

Santa Fe Hybrid performance

In the Santa Fe Hybrid, Hyundai links its 1.6-liter turbo-4 to a 1.5-kwh battery pack and two electric motors. The resulting net 226 hp issues through a 6-speed automatic to all four wheels. We’d take this model as our baseline: though it doesn’t have the energetic acceleration of the more powerful turbo-4, it’s been massaged for smooth power delivery and high economy. 

Even better, the 261-hp Plug-In Hybrid offers 31 miles of real-world plug-in driving, with the best off-the-line acceleration of the bunch. It can be locked into battery-only or hybrid-only drive modes, and we’ve been able to extract even a little more than the EPA-rated range. The ride’s even better damped, thanks to the heft of the battery pack. The downside? It’s the most expensive version of the lineup.

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8

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe

Comfort & Quality

Four people and their stuff fit well in the Santa Fe.

The Santa Fe comes ready for cargo and people, with an interior planned around five seats and a well for baggage or, well, anything. We give the latest Santa Fe extra points for front and back seat comfort as well as room for cargo, for an 8 in quality.

The Santa Fe sits 188.4 inches long, and rides on a 108.9-inch wheelbase. From that footprint it carves out swell space that leaves any sedan in the ease-of-use-dust. Base Santa Fes have been rare—we’ve seen the cloth upholstery Hyundai uses, and it’s fine—but the mid- and high-range models we’ve driven extensively have amply bolstered and power-adjusted front seats, with available heating and cooling, and a knack for finding a good driving position.

Between those front passengers Hyundai molds in small-items storage all over the place—ahead of the shifter, next to deep cupholders, and in the door panels.

Three people can fit in the back row, but two fit better for longer periods of time as it’s broad but not Palisade-broad in the Santa Fe. Six-footers can sit behind other 6-footers with ease and find ample head room to accompany the 41.7 inches of leg room. 

The Santa Fe’s 36.4 cubic feet of cargo space can be expanded to 72.1 cubic feet by folding down those rear seatbacks. More storage exists in a shallow tray beneath the cargo floor. 

The upper echelon of Santa Fe SUVs will wow any shopper with their subtle color schemes, leather trim, and wide-screen displays. Base models have nice interiors, but the Limited and Calligraphy get thicker windows and more finely woven upholstery that damp out some of its noticeable engine noise. 

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9

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe

Safety

The Santa Fe joins the safety elite.

How safe is the Hyundai Santa Fe?

With excellent crash-test scores and equipment, it’s a 9 here.

The NHTSA cites the Santa Fe’s five-star overall crash-test performance, with a single four-star score in rollover resistance. The IIHS goes further, giving it a Top Safety Pick+ award, though updated scoring methods could revise that win to only the versions with more expensive LED headlights. 

Every Santa Fe comes with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. Options range from parking sensors to blind-spot steering assist, blind-spot cameras, and a surround-view camera system.

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10

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe

Features

An excellent warranty and great infotainment lead the Santa Fe to a perfect score.

Sold in SE, SEL, XRT, Limited, and Calligraphy versions, the 2023 Santa Fe sees some minor tweaks this year, but maintains its great set of standard and optional features, its very good infotainment systems, and its leading warranty. A great value, it’s a 10 here.

Prices for 2023 haven’t been published, but for about $30,000 the Santa Fe SE offers LED headlights, cloth upholstery, 18-inch wheels, remote start, and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay served to an 8.0-inch touchscreen. All-wheel drive adds $1,700. Hyundai caps it with an excellent 5-year/60,000-mile warranty that includes 3 years or 36,000 miles of scheduled service.  

Which Hyundai Santa Fe should I buy?

We like the Santa Fe SEL, which costs about $31,000. It gets an 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, wireless smartphone charging, a power tailgate, a 10.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, and satellite radio. A Premium package boosts it with synthetic leather upholstery, a 12.3-inch digital display, 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio, a power front passenger seat, a surround-view camera system, and a panoramic sunroof. It’s a great value at about $38,000—but while you’re at it, make that SEL Premium a Hybrid, for about $40,000.

For more than $40,000, the Santa Fe Limited gets parking sensors, 19-inch wheels, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and better LED headlights.

Hyundai charges about $35,000 for the Hybrid Blue; it also comes in SEL Premium and Limited trim. 

How much is a fully loaded Hyundai Santa Fe?

At more than $42,000, the Santa Fe Calligraphy wears quilted nappa leather upholstery, and gets ambient lighting, a head-up display, and 20-inch wheels. The most expensive model, though, is the Santa Fe Limited plug-in hybrid, which costs at least $47,000.

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3

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe

Fuel Economy

Plug-ins earn the best EPA ratings, but base Santa Fe SUVs aren’t bad.

Is the Hyundai Santa Fe good on gas?

It’s OK in base spec, excellent in plug-in form. We rate on the most popular model, which gets the Santa Fe a 3 here.

The EPA says the front-drive, 4-cylinder base Santa Fe achieves 25 mpg city, 28 highway, 26 combined. With all-wheel drive, it falls to 22/25/24 mpg.

Turbo-4 versions with front-wheel drive get 22/28/25 mpg; with all-wheel drive, it’s 21/28/24 mpg.

Electrified Santa Fes start at 36/31/34 mpg for the Hybrid Blue; better equipped models dip to 33/30/32 mpg. The plug-in hybrid tops the rankings with EPA ratings of 76 MPGe, 33 mpg combined, and 31 miles of electric-only driving. Rated separately, they’d come in at a score of 4 and 5, respectively.

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$28,200
MSRP based on SE FWD
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7.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 9
Features 10
Fuel Economy 3
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