2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe First Look Review: Pushing Every Limit

by Jay Traugott

Hyundai is no stranger to making bold styling decisions. Just look at the heavily updated 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe. The North American-spec 2021 Santa Fe has officially arrived and although it's not a complete redesign, this significant mid-life update is sure to keep the mid-size crossover competitive for several more years. The fourth-generation Santa Fe was only launched in 2018, but Hyundai felt that the list of updates had to be extensive, and it has delivered.

There is fresh styling inside and out and, for the first time ever, a hybrid powertrain is now available. Customers who are willing to spend more will find their upmarket luxury tastes satisfied by the new Calligraphy Trim. Above all, the new Santa Fe remains a trustworthy family crossover. The combination of numerous standard safety features, an improved ride, and bold styling makes it a surefire winner.

Is the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe a good SUV?

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 7 /10
  • Fuel Economy 8 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 10 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 10 /10
  • Reliability 9 /10
  • Safety 10 /10
  • Value For Money 9 /10
8.9
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2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Models

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
SE
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$26,275
SEL
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$28,025
SEL 2.0T
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$34,875
Limited
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$36,025
Limited 2.0T
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$37,875

See all Trims and Specs

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Forward Vision Hyundai
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Rear View Driving Hyundai

Go Bold Or Go Home

The 2021 Santa Fe has acquired the extremely bold front-end styling found on the brand-new Tucson, specifically the wide, three-dimensional grille with the T-shaped LED lighting signature. Daytime running lights are standard. A sharp shoulder crease line handsomely connects the front and rear LEDs, while at the back, the taillights boast rear reflector accents. Hyundai has also given the Santa Fe a new hood and body side sheetmetal, while the roof side rails have been restyled.

There are new alloy wheel designs and 20-inch wheels are optional. The power-folding side mirrors with turn signal indicators and puddle lamps are another new option. While some may find Hyundai's latest styling language a bit too much for their tastes, the South Korean automaker continues to offer some of the most striking-looking vehicles on the market. The new Santa Fe is certainly no different and the competition will doubtless be taking note.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Grill Hyundai
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Taillight Hyundai
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Front View Driving Hyundai
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Side View Hyundai

Interior Acquires Premium Touches

Hyundai has made significant upgrades to the Santa Fe's interior. There's a new high-position, floating console that not only exudes a more premium feel but also helps to increase cabin space. A 10.25-inch touchscreen display replaces last year's eight-inch screen, while drivers will enjoy the new 12.3-inch digital instrument gauge cluster. Tech-wise, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now standard on SE, SEL, and SEL Convenience trims.

Additional optional features include Nappa leather, soft-touch padding, and ambient lighting. Those who desire an even more premium look and feel should look to the new Calligraphy trim, which tacks on quilted Nappa leather, full-color head-up display, an eco-suede headliner, and additional ambient lighting.

Families who haul around kids and stuff will also enjoy an additional one-half cubic foot of rear cargo space thanks to improved overall interior packaging.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Dashboard Hyundai
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Infotainment System Hyundai
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Center Stack Hyundai
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Rear Passenger Seats Hyundai

Time To Offer Hybrid

Perhaps the biggest news concerns what's under the 2021 Santa Fe's hood: an optional hybrid powertrain consisting of a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder paired to a lithium-ion 64-kWh battery, and an electric motor. Combined output comes to an estimated 225 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Power is directed to an HTRAC all-wheel-drive system through an also-new six-speed automatic transmission. This AWD system features Normal, Sport, and Smart driving modes.

The old 2.4-liter four-cylinder is replaced by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Smartstream, producing 191 hp and 182 lb-ft, and paired to an eight-speed automatic. Hyundai claims this engine/gearbox combo increases fuel economy by about eight percent compared to last year's model.

There's a third engine option as well: gone is the 2.0-liter turbo-four, replaced by a new 2.5-liter turbo-four mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Peak horsepower is up by 18 percent for a total of 277 hp and 311 lb-ft. Fuel economy is also expected to improve.

Hyundai's excellent SmartSense safety suite is standard, consisting of forward-collision warning, cyclist and junction-turning detection, blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, and lane-keeping and lane following assists.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Engine Hyundai
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Frontal Aspect Hyundai
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Headlights Hyundai

Pricing And Competition

Official pricing details are expected to be announced closer to the on-sale date, which should get underway relatively soon. The outgoing Santa Fe began at $26,275 and ranged to about $40,000. With the exception of the new Calligraphy trim, expect similar pricing for the new model year.

The mid-size crossover segment is one of the most competitive. The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe will face off against the likes of the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, Subaru Forester, and Volkswagen Tiguan. Customers who like the new Santa Fe's overall packaging and list of features but are somewhat turned off by the new styling should look no further than its Kia Sorento corporate cousin, which has also been heavily updated, only with a more rugged SUV-like appearance.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Front Angle View Hyundai
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Sideward Vision Hyundai
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Driving Back View Hyundai

Hyundai Santa Fe Popular Comparisons

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46
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$26,275 - $39,575
Price Range (MSRP)
Hyundai Santa Fe