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2024 Hyundai Tucson vs. 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe

1. Exterior Design

The 2024 Tucson exterior also features the first-ever mass-produced application of Parametric Hidden Lights. This design involves the lights being hidden in a grille pattern and only being illuminated when turned on, to provide a very modern and elegant look. This has replaced the traditional placement of headlights and fog lights and will set a new trend for design in vehicles to come.

Contrast to this, the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe XL has an exterior that is much taller and less car-like than the current Tucson. The Santa Fe will decidedly be more of a traditional SUV than the Tucson, with a bold and muscular presence that aims to pursue a more premium look to maintain its reputation in the large SUV market. The wide and distinct front grille is illuminated with LED daytime running lights and has an attractive T-shaped pattern that spans toward the headlights. The inline LED headlights are thinner than most other Hyundai cars, and the Santa Fe is the first to introduce the signature dual LED Daytime Running Lights, described as "eyebrows" by Hyundai executives. The ample body of the Santa Fe is emblazoned with well-defined lines leading to the rear, which introduces a wide and sleek appearance. The new Santa Fe will also be available with a variant of the current model known as the Santa Fe Calligraphy, which aims to provide a more premium.

The 2024 Hyundai Tucson offers a modern and sleek exterior that is said to resemble a "parametric dynamics" design. The fourth generation Hyundai Tucson is a midpoint between a car and an SUV, having some features of a car while retaining the bulkiness of an SUV. This design philosophy has been implemented in the current and upcoming Hyundai cars, with the new Elantra being likened to a sedan/coupe crossover. The bold and aggressive lines of the Tucson are said to "fit into the Hyundai SUV family," while providing a much sleeker and more modern design than its predecessors, portraying sophistication and agility. The Tucson is available in a number of appealing colors and has 4 different wheel designs that suit well with the vehicle. A variant of the Tucson, the Hybrid or Plug-in Hybrid, has a slightly different design including 19" alloy wheels, a different front and rear bumper, and a cross-cut grille. The Tucson sports LED Daytime Running Lights and LED Tail-lights, as well as Hidden Lighting Lamps, to portray a more modern and luxurious look. As per SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of Hyundai Global Design Centre, these features are to ensure that it looks "progressive for its avant-garde design."

1.1. Tucson's sleek and modern exterior

The Tucson's body is bigger and wider compared to previous models. It has an increased length of 4,630mm, increased width of 1,865mm, and an increased wheelbase of 2,680mm compared to the previous generation. This creates a more aggressive stance and increases driving stability. The increased length and wheelbase, combined with the reduced height, give the car a very dynamic and aerodynamic look. The front of the car exhibits a wider look grille, which is supplemented with a chrome feature and a Daytime Running Light. The wide and chiseled bumper completes the bold and aggressive car stance. At the rear, the car is equipped with a spoiler and a light that runs through the Hyundai logo. The lights extend into the car boot and are slimmer, creating a visually appealing look. The rear bumper completes the dynamic look with its metallic garnish, complete with a skid plate. All these design features combined create the Tucson's new level of SUV.

The Tucson's design concept incorporates a dynamic, sensuous sportiness, representing athleticism and adventure. This interpretation of daring sportiness is defined by the design direction executed through the main character line that goes from the front to the end. Parametric Dynamics fused into the design interconnects the architecture with the design. This is evident through the car's unique lighting. The front and rear lights are connected by a parametric hidden lighting. When turned off, the front light disguises itself as a chrome feature, creating a sleek and elegant look. The rear light, once turned off, forms a T shape at the rear top window. It does this through a half-mirror.

1.2. Santa Fe's bold and muscular appearance

Santa Fe regenerates into a new design that is futuristic and distinctive, a design that was inspired by the Power Storm concept. Its long hood and level roof line, coupled with a slight silver line to the window area toward the rear of the car, signals a new direction for SUV design. The front end is adorned with the latest interpretation of Hyundai's grill and is a sight to behold with its unique arrangement of composite light and LED positioning lamps. The Santa Fe presents a fresh, modern face for the Hyundai brand, and on top of that, the newly designed alloy wheels and side mirrors contribute to the assertion of this vehicle. At the rear, the LED rear combination lamps adopt a unique squared design to the rear corner that provides wide visibility to the drivers behind, signaling that this aesthetically pleasing design doesn't compromise safety or function. This unique rear lamp design has stated that the SUV market needs to possess the same level of detail as the sedan and compact vehicle markets. Overall, the Santa Fe's new design is a statement of intent to change the game at the SUV level. An intent that is supported by a commitment to the environment that makes this an eco-friendly vehicle worth owning.

2. Interior Features

When it comes to the cabin space, dimensions tell us that the new Tucson is 6.1 inches longer than the previous model, with a wheelbase that's been stretched by 3.4 inches. It's also 0.6 inch wider and 0.6 inch taller, which means it has more room in every direction. Usually, we find compact SUVs limited in the amount of cargo they can hold, but that's not the case with the new Tucson. Not only does it have more cargo space behind its rear seat than most of its rivals, but its rear seat is more versatile, with a two-stage reclining seatback and an adjustable back and forth adjustment range of more than 6 inches. Step-in height into the new Tucson is slightly more than the previous model, which may be a turnoff for shorter passengers. But we think the more than 2-inch increase in ground clearance will be a boon to the ingress and egress. Step-in height into the new Tucson is slightly more than the previous model, which may be a turnoff for shorter passengers. But we think the more than 2-inch increase in ground clearance will be a boon to the ingress and egress.

Interior features are the priority of a vehicle buying decision, and the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe and the fresh redesign 2024 Hyundai Tucson are tough competition for the buyer's decision. Here we will have a comparison of the interior features of these two vehicles according to their latest specifications and features.

2.1. Tucson's spacious and comfortable cabin

There are still many things about the new 2024 Hyundai Tucson that would have resembled that of the fourth-gen Santa Fe, like the trademark of having advanced features and the combination of comfort and capability. For the new Tucson, as a compact size SUV, it would have offered a more comfortable and spacious cabin. Tucson's new features allowed for more space for the passenger and the driver. Adding an inch to its wheelbase and nearly 6.1 inches to its length compared to the old model. The new Tucson's interior volume is up 6.2 cubic feet, which makes it seem much bigger than the last model. Tucson's driver and passenger will both get more legroom and shoulder room compared to the old model, and rear seat passengers get more of the same. Luggage capacity has also increased on Tucson, up more than 7 cubic feet over the last model, that would mean more space for the dogs. There's also an underfloor storage area for additional clutter, and the 2024 Tucson's liftgate opening has been widened by 2.6 inches and lowered by 1.4 inches to make it more accessible for loading cargo. Overall, the 2024 Hyundai Tucson will feel significantly more spacious and airy, with over 41 inches of front legroom and 39 inches of rear legroom. This much space is hard to come by in a compact size SUV, and it is still bigger than some other manufacturers' mid-size SUV.

2.2. Santa Fe's luxurious and well-equipped interior

As with the Tucson, practicality is key to the Santa Fe's interior design. The rear seats not only recline but also have a neat one-touch folding mechanism on the side of the seats, increasing boot space from 969 liters to a cavernous 2240 liters. The split sides of the tailgate also make it easier to load shopping or other items. The SatNav comes with a rearview camera for reversing, which is displayed in the rearview mirror. A useful feature, but perhaps it could be displayed in the SatNav screen as it is quite small in the mirror. Overall, the Santa Fe has a more refined and premium interior over the Tucson. Handling is the same, and the Santa Fe has the advantage of more engines to choose from, but it is interior quality and a high level of standard equipment that set the two apart.

The new Santa Fe looks to carve out a new niche in the market for Hyundai. While the Tucson provides a certain level of quality and refinement in terms of interior design and finish, the Santa Fe is a league above it. One of the first things one notices on the Santa Fe is the sense of light and space. This is due to Hyundai's careful selection of colors and use of a lighter roof lining, which create an impressively airy interior. The quality of the materials used varies depending on the model. The higher-end CDX+ and CDX+SatNav models come with leather as standard, which is not only firm and pleasing to the touch but also ages better than in previous Hyundai models.

2.3. Advanced technology and connectivity options

The 2023 Santa Fe is installed with one 8-inch screen, while Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models implement a Climate Control Screen to handle the vehicle's energy efficiently. On the other hand, the 2024 Tucson is equipped with additional technology such as the Multi-Bluelink application on a larger 10.25-inch infotainment and an optional 10.25-inch touchscreen for premium trims. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on the 2024 Tucson, whereas the 2023 Santa Fe only offers the feature on higher trims. A Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS) is also standard on the 2024 Tucson to notify the presence of quiet electric or hybrid vehicles, a similar feature called the External Pedestrian Warning System is optional on Santa Fe's fully electrified models. In terms of audio, a 6-speaker system is standard on the base 2024 Tucson, but a Bose Premium Audio with 8 speakers is optional and becomes standard on certain trims. In contrast, the 2023 Santa Fe will become the first Hyundai model to offer Harman Kardon audio, available on higher trims.

3. Performance and Powertrain

Tucson has two available engine options from launch. Standard on the SE and Value models is a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with 161hp and is paired with an automatic transmission that has a manually shiftable gate. This combination provides rather punchy acceleration and is average in noise levels. This engine is quite suitable for the compact class but doesn't stand out with too much character. Fuel economy for 2WD models is rated at 23/31mpg city/highway while AWD models are rated at 22/25mpg city/highway. Optional for the Value and standard on the SEL and Limited trims is a more powerful 2.4L 4-cylinder engine with 181hp and is also paired with an automatic transmission that has a manually shiftable gate. This combination also provides punchy acceleration but is more refined and just as quiet. This engine is a better fit for the compact-crossover class and should be the engine of choice for most buyers. This engine is not offered with AWD and fuel economy is rated at 22/28mpg city/highway for 2WD models. Note that the Sportage has better fuel economy than the Tucson due to using the same engines with less weight/resistance. Coming in a future model year is a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder engine with 177hp and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This combination will provide better fuel economy and similar acceleration to the 2.4L engine but with more fun-to-drive character. This engine is expected to have the best fuel economy of the three options. A fuel efficient Eco trim using the 1.6L turbo engine with better aerodynamics is also expected to come in a future model year and provide the best fuel economy of the line-up. This engine is not expected to offer AWD due to being designed primarily for better fuel economy. Overall, the Tucson offers a fine powertrain line-up with something for everyone. Santa Fe has a stronger powertrain. Standard on the SE, SEL and Limited trims is a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine with 185hp and is paired with an automatic transmission that has a manually shiftable gate. This combination provides very smooth and nearly silent acceleration – a strong point for this engine. This engine also has an idle start/stop feature designed for better fuel economy. AWD is available for the SE and is standard for the SEL and Limited trims with fuel economy rated at 21/27mpg city/highway. This engine is quieter and more refined than the 2.0L turbo engine offered on the Sport and provides fuel economy not much worse. The more powerful Sport 2.0T and Santa Fe are identical in acceleration due to similar weight but the Santa Fe is more refined and smoother due to a better powertrain and more sound insulation. Optional for the Limited trim is a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with 235hp and is also paired with an automatic transmission that has a manually shiftable gate. With the hasty acceleration that's on tap it may be a temptation to drive it harder and hence offset the gain in fuel economy over the 2.4L engine. This engine is much stronger and quicker than the 2.4L engine and more suitable for the mid-size class but acceleration and fuel economy are not too far off from the 2.4L engine. AWD is standard which is well-suited for harsh weather. Step-off acceleration is better than most V6 engines in the segment. This is the same powertrain used by the closely related Sorento and Sportage but does not have the extra 20hp on tap for passing and towing due to the heavier weight. Fuel economy is rated at 20/27mpg city/highway. This powertrain does not have as good characteristics compared to the 2.4L and is not offered on the Sport or base model. The Santa Fe has a more powerful and fun-to-drive powertrain compared to the Tucson but at the expense of more fuel-thirsty engines.

3.1. Tucson's efficient engine options

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe reinvents its powertrain lineup with a brand new 2.5-liter turbocharged GDI 4-cylinder engine and an HTRAC AWD option. This particular Santa Fe engine is quite a powerhouse with a commendable 277 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. However, the gold standard is the brand new Santa Fe XRT, a 2.5T Hybrid SUV much like the Tucson hybrid. The XRT has a nearly identical engine to the Tucson hybrid model, it comes with a 6-speed automatic, and has an estimated fuel efficiency of 32 MPG. These two vehicles are a significant departure from the previous Santa Fe lineup, which included a base model 4-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V6. The Santa Fe still is one of the more efficient vehicles in its class. The new 2.5 Turbo engine has impressive fuel ratings, and the XRT shines as the most efficient and respectful of the environment. Both will fare favorably in terms of power against the tuned-up Tucson and offer better performance still.

The 2024 Hyundai Tucson offers a choice of two potent engines. The standard powertrain is a 2.5-liter direct-injected inline-4 with 187 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque, with an estimated 28 combined fuel efficiency in MPG. This more fuel-efficient choice certainly is in line with the expectations set by the Tucson name. The upgraded powertrain is available in the 2024 Tucson Hybrid or the Tucson PHEV, a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine mated to an electric motor. Combined system HP is estimated at around 230, and Hyundai projects a mind-blowing 38 MPG efficiency for the Hybrid and 80 MPG equivalent for the PHEV. The hybrid line seems to shine as the best powertrain choice compared to the regular gas model or the larger Santa Fe counterpart, with its impressive fuel ratings and a decent amount of power added from the electric motor.

Both Hyundai SUVs have their own unique powertrain and performance features that set them apart as two different vehicles. The Tucson is more focused on its efficiency, while the Santa Fe is more focused on raw power and performance. This factor alone almost makes this comparison seem unorthodox, as different expectations could color the results.

3.2. Santa Fe's powerful and responsive performance

Santa Fe has an intense, powerful, and responsive performance. At the core of this is the new powertrain lineup. It includes the new 2.5-liter GDI/MPI 4-cylinder engine, which has also been used in the new Tucson. This engine delivers an estimated output of 191 horsepower and 181 lb.-ft. of torque, the best in the base engine last on the 2020 Santa Fe. The standard engine has been coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission that was produced in-house. This configuration has been designed to provide improved real-world driveability, and the on-demand four-wheel drive modes will be available to provide optimum traction for all weather conditions. In addition, a new hybrid propulsion system will be available on Santa Fe mid-2021. Detailed specifications will be released closer to the launch date. More information regarding Santa Fe's performance can be found in the following video. It has also been announced that there are plans for an ultimate high-performance N brand model that will be added to the Santa Fe crossover SUV lineup. The upcoming Santa Fe N will be the first SUV that is developed with the N brand concept, which represents an agile driving experience and racetrack capability. More information regarding the development of the all-new Santa Fe N will be revealed in the near future.

3.3. Fuel efficiency and driving dynamics

On the other hand, Santa Fe owners can expect a more spirited drive off of a 2.5L Turbo or Turbo Hybrid powertrain. One of the significant advantages is the HTRAC AWD system. The AWD system can distribute torque from 100% to the front or rear wheels to a 50/50 balance depending on conditions. At a curb weight around 4000 lbs, the Santa Fe is considered to have good handling dynamics and control, being able to keep the vehicle composed in spirited driving or bad road conditions. The 2023 Santa Fe also comes standard with a multi-link rear suspension and larger brake rotors to aid in handling and stopping power. The extra dynamic performance does cause fuel economy to suffer in comparison to the Tucson. The 2.5T will net 24 mpg combined, and the hybrid will net 30 mpg combined. This isn't terrible overall, but the comparison between brand and model may have some turning to the lighter Tucson Hybrid for similar performance with higher fuel economy.

For 2024, the Tucson can run on either the standard 2.5L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder or 1.6L turbo hybrid powertrain. Overall, the combined city and highway MPG rating comes up to 28, effectively saving fuel and money. When rating the driving characteristics of the car, the Tucson may suffer in terms of performance. The heavier weight and front-wheel drive base traction contribute to a less sporty or dynamic character for the driver. While it might feel slow off the line, the light steering and comfortably tuned suspension can make it pleasant to steer around town. Special notes for the hybrid include a solar roof which can contribute up to 6 miles of charge a day, heated seats, a steering wheel heater, and a higher trim feature in the form of an HTRAC AWD system.

4. Safety and Driver Assistance

The Safety and Driver Assistance segment contributes to 6 of Hyundai's 2024 Tucson articles. The section highlights exactly how Hyundai made essential safety features more foundational and extends well into the middle/higher trim vehicles to give Tucson owners ultimate peace of mind while on the road. Part of the segment on "Peace of mind" safety features Hyundai has added Lane Following Assist (LFA), collision avoidance assist, and rear cross traffic collision avoidance assist. LFA automatically adjusts steering to help keep Tucson centered in its lane of travel. At speeds under 70 km/h, it will keep to the center of the lane. In speeds over 70 km/h, it will follow lane markings to keep center. If LFA detects the vehicle getting too close to lane markers, LFA will provide visual and audio guidance. If the vehicle continues to make frequent lane departures, the LFA system will disable, alert the driver, and suggest taking a break. If the turn signal is used, LFA will not engage. LFA is a standard feature from the Essential Trim, which is very impressive for a car that has "essential" in the name. Making an upgrade to the Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT) or the 1.6T Tucson offers Highway Drive Assist. This feature helps maintain following distance behind a forward vehicle or motorcycle and helps keep the center of the lane at a speed selected by the driver. It will operate at speeds as low as 0 km/h and accelerate if the vehicle has been stopped for less than 3 seconds. If the vehicle has been stopped for more than 3 seconds, the driver must re-engage HDA. If there is no preceding vehicle detected in front of you when using the smart cruise control, it operates as a smart cruise control system. HDA is a feature that most consumers are seeking out in new vehicles, and to have a Hyundai vehicle equipped with it at the Preferred trim is a big win. This feature was only available on top-of-the-line vehicles not that long ago. Also, from the Preferred AWD trim to the 1.6T Trend, Tucson introduces the addition of rear parking distance warning (PDW-R), which will provide visual and auditory warning if the vehicle gets too close to objects behind while in reverse. PDW-R is something that is very easy to get used to having, and not having it is a big selling point for purchasing a new vehicle. Also coming from the Preferred AWD trim or the 1.6T Tucson, the addition of Highway Auto Curve Slowdown (HACS) can automatically reduce vehicle speed if approaching a curve too fast on a highway road, can prevent potential accidents, and maintain better stability while driving.

4.1. Tucson's comprehensive safety features

From a more positive perspective, Hyundai justifiably takes pride in the 2023 Tucson's safety features. Right from the baseline trim level, a driver attention monitor and the Safe Exit Warning system help keep an eye on the 'state' of the driver and prevent passengers from opening their doors into the path of traffic or cyclists. A little higher up the models' hierarchy, Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, and Parking Distance Warning give drivers that little extra piece of mind. And when the kids are old enough for passing their LGV tests and landing a job that provides a company car, Hyundai's 'Second Generation Highway Driving Assist' has the potential to be a 'lifesaver' and an 'employment protector'. As of the present day, there is no parallel system on offer for the new Santa Fe. The 'central' feature of the 2023 Tucson's derivative-specific safety kits is the inclusion of 'Forward Safety' (or a less ambiguously named equivalent) active safety data for more or less preventative collision avoidance. This type of feature is expected to be made standard on a much wider range of motor vehicles, with its accessibility to a broader driving population having the potential to cause a sizeable reduction in collision-related personal injuries and personal damage to vehicles. This feature is still developing and safety kits are changing all the time, but typically it is being implemented through the system of combining forward-facing cameras and/or radar, often with input from other sensor inputs in modern vehicles. This will directly interlink vehicle speed and distance, with automatic following speed adjustment in response to speed limit changes, upcoming corners, and school zones, and a system for providing steering inputs to aid collision avoidance manoeuvring. Note that this is a description of what might be possible in the years following 2023, rather than an entirely accurate depiction of the feature.

4.2. Santa Fe's advanced driver assistance systems

The first notable system I miss something? about the Santa Fe is its Highway Driving Assist. Only available with the Elite and Highlander, it uses a front-view camera and rear-view mirror radar to accurately detect the vehicles in front and keep the Santa Fe in the centre of its lane. It will intelligently accelerate and brake to keep up with the flow of traffic to the set speed and can slow the car for bends and speed cameras. At speeds under 65km/h it will even use the navigation data to adjust speed for upcoming curves, T-intersections and roundabouts. Junction Turning Avoidance is an expansion of this which uses the same systems to safely execute a turn at an intersection with traffic lights and Automatic Safe Exit Assist helps stop the doors opening into the path of traffic or cyclists. Other notable features include Reverse AEB which can stop the vehicle if it detects an obstacle when reversing, Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance which can now apply counter steering to prevent low speed collisions with approaching traffic and Parking Collision Avoidance Assist which will apply the brakes if it detects a likely collision situation while the car is in park. Lastly the Santa Fe has a feature called e-Call which in the event of an accident connects vehicle occupants to a 24/7 monitoring centre job? automatically and puts them in touch with an emergency services operator known as UVO Link. This service can provide both emergency and non-emergency assistance as well as sending a recovery vehicle in the event of a mechanical issue.

4.3. Crash test ratings and overall safety performance

The Hyundai Tucson and the Santa Fe 2023 both bagged several safety awards, have good crash test ratings, and come packed with built-in safety features that help keep you and your own family safe. The Hyundai Tucson, on the other hand, did better with crash test ratings, and the NHTSA gave it a 5-star overall crash test score. The Santa Fe 2023 did well on all of its crash test ratings except the small overlap front, and NHTSA gave it a 4/5 stars on the overall crash test score. Both of these vehicles have good safety features that do a good job of making sure that anything that can harm the passengers in the vehicle will be significantly reduced. Overall, a key deciding factor between these vehicles is practicality. Both vehicles have 5-star ANCAP safety ratings. This, along with strong crash test ratings and a 5-star NCAP score, affirms the Tucson as a family-friendly, reliable machine that can serve its owner for many years to come. The Santa Fe 2023, however, can get a bit expensive for what you're getting. On top of that, the Santa Fe did score a bit lower on reliability compared to the Tucson.