Should You Take the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Off Road?

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe is not recommended for off-road driving due to its short ground clearance specs.
Written by Ethan Moser
Edited by Pat Roache
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Despite the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe’s rugged looks, this crossover SUV is not suited for off-road driving. It lacks the mechanical specs and performance required to off-road safely. 
  • Every 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe trim level has a ground clearance of 8.2 inches, which is just below the 8.8-inch threshold recommended for off-roading.
  • The Santa Fe’s powertrain doesn’t generate enough torque at low RPMs to be suitable for off-road driving.
  • The 2022 Ford Expedition is the best alternative to the Hyundai Santa Fe for serious off-road capabilities.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe is not off-road ready

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe lacks the necessary specs to be considered suitable for off-roading:
  • Ground clearance: too low
  • Torque: too weak
  • Tires: decent, but not enough
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel-drive
  • Approach and departure angles: lack height
This SUV falls just short of being suitable for off-roading no matter which trim you buy—from the
Santa Fe SE
for $28,495 to the plug-in hybrid
Santa Fe Limited PHEV
for $47,305.
Let’s take a closer look at the key off-roading specs for the Hyundai Santa Fe:

Hyundai Santa Fe Ground clearance: too low

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe: The
2022 Hyundai Santa Fe ground clearance
is 8.2 inches across all trims, which falls shy of being sufficient for off-road adventures. 
What it means: Ground clearance is the measurement between the bottom of your vehicle’s chassis and the ground.
What you want: A vehicle should have a ground clearance between 8.8 and 10.8 inches to be suitable for off-roading.

Hyundai Santa Fe low-end torque: too weak

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe: The Santa Fe’s torque output of 181 lb-ft @ 4,000 RPM doesn’t provide the SUV with a lot of power to handle off-road terrain. 
What it means: Low-end torque refers to a relatively low lb-ft output at a higher rpm.
What you want: When it comes to off-roading, low-end torque is preferable because power is more important than speed when navigating slippery and uneven surfaces. 

Tires: decent, but not enough

Every trim level features a set of P235/60TR18 tires, which are approximately 235 millimeters wide and have an aspect ratio of 60%. 
What it means: The tire’s sidewall (i.e. the distance from the rim of the tire to the tread) is 60% of its total width—or 141 millimeters. The “18” at the end of the tire code indicates that the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe’s tires are designed to be installed on 18-inch wheels. 
These tires are suitable for use in mud and snow. However, they don’t make up for the Santa Fe’s lackluster ground clearance and torque specs. 

Drivetrain: Standard FWD

This model year of the Santa Fe comes standard with FWD, though AWD is available for an additional $1,700 MSRP. 
What you want: All-wheel drive is more or less a mandatory requirement for off-roading. While adding all-wheel drive to the Santa Fe will make it better for snow driving, it still lacks the other necessary specs to be suitable for off-road usage.

Angles: lack height

The Santa Fe shows its true affinity for highway driving with approach and departure angles of 16.7 and 20.2 degrees, respectively. 
What it means:
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
What you want: Successful off-roading is all about angles. While 16.7 and 20.2-degree angles might be enough for some gentle off-roading on a taller vehicle, they’re far from ideal for any serious rock-crawling.

Hyundai Santa Fe off-road rating: Don’t try it

Using
Jerry’s
expert DIRT rating system, we’ve given the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe a D rating for off-roading capabilities. Here’s a breakdown of the system:
Rating
Meaning
Description
D
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
I
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
R
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
T
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
Expert analysis: Despite the 2022 Santa Fe’s updated trail-ready exterior, its ground clearance spec has hardly grown enough to handle serious off-roading—only 0.1 inches taller than it was when the SUV was first introduced in 2000. 
You might be able to drive your Santa Fe down a dirt road, but you’ll need a more capable alternative for mild and more serious off-roading.
rating reverse-full
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The best off-road alternatives to the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe

The table below outlines some of the Hyundai Santa Fe competitors that are cheaper, more powerful, and more equipped to handle general off-roading.
Alternative
Model
Price
Ground clearance
Torque
Best affordable alternative
$22,445
8.7 inches
176 lb-ft
Best eco-friendly alternative
$57,660
8.4 inches
470 lb-ft
Best alternative for serious off-roading
$51,080
9.8 inches
470 lb-ft
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