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Sunday Drive: 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy unveils elegance and adventure

By Craig and Deanne Conover - Daily Herald | Sep 23, 2023
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Deanne with the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe in the mountains west of Denver as we got our first look at the new SUV at the Rocky Mountain Driving Experience event in June 2023.
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The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy.
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The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy.
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Inside the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy.
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Inside the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy.
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Inside the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy.

In the realm of midsize SUVs, the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy 2.5T AWD emerged as a beacon of luxury and capability during our weeklong test drive in mid-August. As part of Hyundai’s esteemed lineup, the Calligraphy trim exudes sophistication along with modern convenience, offering a harmonious fusion of luxury and performance.

Our Sunday drive journey began in Springville, traversing Intestate 15 to Nephi, continuing through Nephi Canyon and returning via the Nebo Loop Road to Payson, a voyage that serves as a fitting testament to the Santa Fe’s versatility, including some speedy freeway engagements along with spirited twisty curves.

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy 2.5T AWD immediately captivated us with its elegant design language. The Calligraphy trim portrays a heightened sense of refinement, adorned with distinct styling cues that set it apart from its peers.

The cascading front grille and striking LED headlights imparted a commanding presence, while the sculpted sides and prominent wheel arches emphasized its robust stance. The rear showcased a sense of modernity with sleek LED taillights and a sophisticated exhaust finisher.

The Calligraphy trim elevated our experience with the interior using a lavish approach. The cabin oozed luxury, boasting premium materials and meticulous attention to detail. Soft-touch surfaces, supple leather upholstery and tasteful accents created an atmosphere of opulence that enveloped and surrounded us for the entire week. The dashboard layout is intuitive, housing an advanced infotainment system controlled via a responsive touch screen interface.

Under the hood of the 2023 Santa Fe Calligraphy 2.5T AWD resides a robust 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, producing a commendable 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. This setup is only available in the Calligraphy trim level. For the price, however, we felt it was a rewarding experience, definitely giving the midsize SUV some extra punch.

All this power was channeled through an eight-speed automatic transmission, ensuring seamless shifts and effortless acceleration. The advanced all-wheel-drive system enhances stability and traction, imbuing the Santa Fe with the capability to tackle diverse terrains and weather conditions, a huge consideration in the Mountain West when Mother Nature is having a bad day.

During our journey from Springville to Nephi, the Santa Fe’s powertrain displayed its prowess on the open highway. The engine delivered ample torque, effortlessly propelling the vehicle up to highway speeds of 80-plus mph. The transmission transitioned between gears smoothly, contributing to a refined and comfortable ride. Even with the vehicle’s luxurious leanings, the engine’s responsiveness and power output reminded us on every drive of its sporty undertones.

Our route continued from Nephi through the stunning Nephi Canyon, a picturesque stretch flanked by towering rock formations and sweeping vistas. The Santa Fe’s suspension adeptly absorbed road imperfections, ensuring a comfortable and controlled ride as we navigated the winding roads. The cabin’s sound insulation further contributed to a serene atmosphere, allowing us to appreciate the scenic beauty without the intrusion of external noise.

As we progressed into the Nebo Loop Road on our return to Payson, the Santa Fe exhibited its prowess on more challenging terrain as we headed high on the mountain roads. The all-wheel-drive system engaged seamlessly, providing confidence-inspiring traction on the winding roads.

The vehicle’s suspension, which had already demonstrated its competence on the highway, continued to impress as it absorbed undulations and maintained poise through sharp curves as we winded our way over the mountains.

The Santa Fe Calligraphy trim prioritizes both driver and passenger comfort, offering a range of amenities that elevate the driving experience. Heated and ventilated front seats, along with heated rear seats, ensure a comfortable journey regardless of the weather. The cabin is spacious, providing ample legroom and headroom for occupants, and the panoramic sunroof enhances the sense of airiness within.

The infotainment system is user-friendly, anchored by a high-resolution 10.25-inch touch screen, coupled with a 12.3-inch digital driving display. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility allowed seamless smartphone integration, enabling access to navigation, music and communication apps. The available premium sound system transformed the cabin into a personal concert hall, delivering crisp and immersive audio.

Hyundai places a strong emphasis on safety, and the Santa Fe Calligraphy exemplifies this commitment with a suite of advanced driver-assistance technologies. The array of safety features includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist. During our journey, these systems seamlessly operated in the background, contributing to our confidence and overall sense of security.

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe effortlessly blends upscale refinement with spirited performance. From Springville to Nephi and through the Nebo Loop Road, the Santa Fe showcased its prowess across diverse terrains and driving conditions. Its opulent interior, impressive powertrain and advanced safety features created a cohesive package that caters to both comfort and adventure.

Whether navigating highways, canyon roads or mountainous passes, the Santa Fe’s versatility shines through. It embodies the spirit of modern exploration, offering a luxurious sanctuary for passengers while embracing the thrill of the open road.

The Santa Fe Calligraphy 2.5T AWD is a testament to Hyundai’s dedication to elevating the midsize SUV segment, providing a harmonious fusion of luxury, capability and innovation. After our week of test driving the turbocharged Santa Fe, we were convinced it is one of the best deals for the money on the market.

Base price: $43,750

Destination charge: $1,295

Price as driven: $45,255

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