2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
The fourth generation Hyundai Santa Fe arrived with a focus on mixing two-row comfort with superb practicality and capability. The result is a vehicle that have won many customers over.
For 2021, the Santa Fe receives a mid-cycle refresh with intent to shake up the segment with a new design inside and out, adding new power options, and upping the desirability with a new luxury trim level.
How did Hyundai do with this refreshed Santa Fe?
The first indicator is right up front. The new front clip includes a massive grille that gives a nod to the larger Palisade SUV. That also includes placing the headlights lower on the front fascia, next to the grille, leaving the upper lamps on the fender for driving lights and turn signals. The headlight units also add LED accent lighting that are exquisite.
The liftgate received a new LED taillight bar that replaces a horizontal chrome piece on previous models. The overall design is rounded out with new wheel designs. In our case, we had the new top-of-the-line Calligraphy trim with an optional set of 19-inch wheels. In all, the Santa Fe is both handsome and compelling, as well as inviting.
The updates continue inside with an all new center stack. It may remind some people of the Palisade, with its push-button transmission, a bank of buttons for climate and infotainment controls, and the drive mode knob. On top of the center stack is an all-new infotainment screen. Our Calligraphy had the wide 10.25-inch version.
Also on the Calligraphy model is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with silver-faced dials and a wide information center. The head-up display is wide and helps with driver concentration. Every switch and control are excellent to the touch and logical. You can tell that Hyundai stepped up the quality on the Santa Fe to new heights.
The same can be said of the Santa Fe Calligraphy’s quilted and perforated leather seats. They are comfortable, supportive with plenty of bolstering, and are fatigue-free on long journeys. The rear seat offers a lot of room and comfort for 2-3 adults. The cargo space actually increased from last year with 36.4 cubic feet with the rear seat up, expanding to 72.1 cubic feet with it down.
Powering the new Santa Fe are three engines. Lower models get a 191-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower, connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. There is a new Hybrid option, combining a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine with an electric motor putting a combined rating of 226 horsepower.
Our Calligraphy tester came with a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. This powerful engine is mated to the new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission with Hyundai’s HTrac all-wheel drive system. It is a powerful motor capable of great highway cruising and excellent passing maneuvers. In terms of fuel economy, we averaged 24.8 MPG.
Ride quality is excellent. The suspension system does a great job absorbing road imperfections. The Santa Fe takes corners quite well, without much lean or roll..
The steering system offered a tight turning radius and solid response from the wheel. Braking is also good with great pedal feel and response. The Santa Fe offered solid stops in normal and panic situations. In all, the Santa Fe is a nice driving SUV that yields please for everyone on board.
Pricing for the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe lineup starts at $27,000 for an SE with front-wheel drive. Our Calligraphy tester came with a sticker price of $43,730.
The Hyundai Santa Fe continues to be one of the leaders of the two-row, mid-size SUV segment. Its competitors include the Ford Edge, Chevrolet Blazer, Jeep Cherokee, Nissan Murano, Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, and the Honda Passport. You can also add the Toyota Venza in comparison to the Santa Fe Hybrid model.
The Santa Fe’s success is due to many things – driving experience, overall quality, and a nice look. The 2021 update has pushed the latter onto another level. Adding the hybrid, along with the top-of-the-line Calligraphy model affirms what we concluded about this SUV a couple of years ago: If you are looking for a two-row SUV that offers space for growing teenagers and more cargo capacity – look no further than the Hyundai Santa Fe.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors