An off-roading Hyundai Santa Fe? Sign us up!

You know the 2016 SEMA Auto Show is approaching when you start seeing automakers drop press releases about wild iterations of its vehicles. And so, we find ourselves with one of the first gnarly custom jobs that’s headed to Las Vegas. It’s called the Hyundai Rockstar Santa Fe Concept and it is glorious.

Step back for a second and take in what used to be a mild-mannered crossover that has since been turned to an off-roading marauder. Notice how it’s been raised up and fitted with those massive 35-inch Baja tires? That was all part of Rockstar’s plan when it partnered with Hyundai to work on this Santa Fe. It also comes with a bevy of new features, both of the useful and cosmetic varieties, all of which were installed to give the Santa the unilateral purpose of driving on any road condition it finds itself in.

Obviously, it’s unlikely that we’ll see the Rockstar Santa Fe hit the streets anytime soon, but given what Rockstar was able to pull off – it even has a nitrous oxide injection system! – I wouldn’t be able to blame anybody who takes a good look at this beauty and demands Hyundai to send it into production, even in a limited edition capacity.

Continue reading to learn more about the Hyundai Rockstar Santa Fe Concept.


2016 Hyundai Rockstar Santa Fe Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 691277

It sure doesn’t look like your standard Hyundai Santa Fe, does it? That’s evident the first time you look at it as the Santa Fe gets a heavy amount of modifications from head to toe. It’s been fitted with LED light bars in the front, custom headlights and taillamps, a roof rack in case some extra supplies need to be hauled, and a self-recovery winch for emergency situations. On the cosmetic side, it’s hard not to notice the gray and white camouflage on the sides of the Santa Fe. Rockstar’s yellow star logo adds the customary color pop to the SUV’s overall profile. Rounding out the entire exterior upgrades is a new set of 17-inch off-road KMC XD 301 Turbine bead-lock wheels wrapped in 35-inch Mickey Thompson Baja Claw off-road tires.


There are still no images of the Santa Fe’s interior, but by all accounts, Rockstar put some extra life and shine to the cabin with a custom leather interior design and a Kicker audio system.


The Rockstar Santa Fe still carries the standard 3.3-liter V-6 engine, but a significant amount of changes have been made around it. The most important of these changes is the nitrous-oxide injection system that Rockstar added to give the V-6 engine an injection of adrenaline. That upgrade is complemented by an AEM cold air intake, a Mishimoto cooling system, and a Magnaflow exhaust. Neither Hyundai nor Rockstar said anything about the new power output of the Rockstar Santa Fe, but a shot of nitrous oxide into that V-6 engine will get the Santa Fe up and running in no time since. Considering that the V-6 delivers a standard output of 290 horsepower and a peak torque of 252 pound-feet you know, that nitrous oxide boost could push that output up to a number north of 400 horsepower.

Suspension and Brakes

2016 Hyundai Rockstar Santa Fe Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 691277

Arguably the most significant change to the Hyundai Santa Fe can be found in this section. The aesthetic modifications are nice and the nitrous oxide is a welcome delight, but none of those will matter if Rockstar didn’t add new tie-rods and control arms to the SUV’s suspension. These items help improve the riding qualities of the Santa Fe in the off-road terrain. A set of 2.0 King coil-overs in the front and 2.5 King shocks with finned reservoirs in the back help finish off the custom improvements to the SUV’s suspension. Moving to the brakes, Rockstar added six-piston callipers up front and four-piston calipers in the rear, ensuring that the Rockstar Santa Fe can stop on a dime at any moment’s notice.


It’s probably not how Hyundai intended the Santa Fe to be, but I think what Rockstar did is a big step up from what the SUV is capable of. Granted, Hyundai already offers all-wheel drive on certain variants of the Santa Fe, but what Rockstar did was add on to those qualities to ensure that it can travel anywhere without finding itself in a compromising position. Who knows, maybe Hyundai can take some cues from Rockstar and adapt these changes itself in the future. It’s highly unlikely, I know, but we can all dream, right?

  • Leave it
    • Not for everyone
    • Don’t expect Hyundai to adopt these modifications
    • No power numbers released

Press Release

Hyundai Motor America and Rockstar Performance Garage have partnered to develop a nitrous-powered Santa Fe CUV capable of serious off-roading while conveying the iconic Rockstar design attitude. Rockstar is world-renowned for the boundless energy it brings to any product concept or event, and the Rockstar Santa Fe Concept follows that reputation, with a nitrous-powered, Hyundai-based 3.3L Lambda V6 engine driving all four wheels through any terrain via a raised Santa Fe off-roading setup.

“Rockstar conveys its endless brand energy in everything we do,” said Nick Ashby, lead developer of the Rockstar concept vehicle. “Our Rockstar Santa Fe Concept is simultaneously all-show and all-go, a non-compromising concept with tremendous capabilities and a confident demeanor to match.

Key modifications to the Rockstar Santa Fe Concept include:

Hyundai-based 3.3L V6 engine
AEM cold air intake
Mishimoto cooling system
Nitrous-oxide injection system
R1 6-piston front, 4-piston rear, big brake system
2.0 KING coil-overs front
2.5 KING shocks with finned reservoir rear
Custom suspension setup with new tie-rods and control arms
Nology high-performance wires
Odyssey batteries
Nitro Gear gears
KICKER® audio system
Magnaflow custom exhaust
17-inch off-road KMC XD 301 Turbine bead-lock wheels
Mickey Thompson Baja Claw 35-inch off-road tires
Wheel clearance expansion setup
WARN® winch
Rock sliders and bumpers
Custom roof rack, headlamps and taillamps
Bulldog LED lighting
Roadwire custom leather interior design

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Press release
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