If you want three rows, Hyundai says, you'll be much happier in the Palisade.
The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe has just arrived in the United States, sporting a dramatic facelift, a revamped cabin, new safety technology, more cargo space, and even new powertrains in the form of a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder and a new hybrid variant. It may not be a complete redesign, but it still represents a major update.
One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the number of seats; the Santa Fe still only offers two rows of seating, with no 2021 return of the three-row "Santa Fe XL". During a recent call with media, Hyundai explained why that is.
Hyundai says that simply put, the decision not to bring back the Santa Fe XL was driven by customer research.
"This is something that we studied quite a bit," explained Trevor Lai, Santa Fe Product Manager. "The research we have done showed that our buyers would be at a disservice by having a third-row seat. It does not provide enough legroom for any sense of satisfaction."
For those buyers who require a third row, Hyundai offers a solution: "For that proper three-row experience, we do have our popular Hyundai Palisade," Lai says. "That provides significantly more room not only in the third row but also for cargo, especially with the third-row deployed. It's a no-compromise three-row from Hyundai."
Of course, stepping up to the Palisade brings with it a sizable jump in price, from the $28,025 starting MSRP for the Santa Fe to the Palisade's $32,525 price tag. But while Hyundai itself doesn't offer a smaller mid-size option with a third row, another brand within the Hyundai Motor Group does.
"We noticed our sister company doing a third-row option," Lai said, referring to the Kia Sorrento. Like Hyundai, Kia has a larger mid-size option, the Telluride, but the brand still decided to offer the new Sorento as a seven-seater starting at $29,390. Granted, by any objective measure, that back seat is pretty cramped. We suppose that's Hyundai's point.