2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Robert Duffer Robert Duffer Senior Editor
October 12, 2020

Buying tip

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe goes on sale in late 2020.

features & specs

Calligraphy AWD
Limited AWD
Limited FWD
MPG
NA
MPG
NA
MPG
NA
MSRP
NA
MSRP
NA
MSRP
NA

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe pushes efficiency with a new hybrid model.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe is a mid-size crossover SUV featuring more potent gas engines, new hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, and a snazzy top Calligraphy trim. Larger than the Tucson compact crossover but smaller than the Palisade three-row crossover, the Santa Fe competes against other mid-size crossovers such as the Honda Passport, Chevy Blazer, Nissan Murano, Kia Sorento, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. 

Is the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe a good SUV?

Review continues below

We won’t know until we test it, but the 2020 Santa Fe ranks above most of the competition with a high TCC Rating of 7.0 out of 10. That rating should increase for 2021 with new powertrains, more standard features, more available features, and better tech. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe?

For 2021, the Santa Fe wears a fresh face that covers three new available engines. The range-topping Calligraphy trim promises Hyundai’s finest features, but the standard safety and convenience features also improve across the lineup. An 8.0-inch touchscreen replaces the 7.0-inch screen as standard equipment, and standard automatic emergency braking now detects pedestrians and cyclists as well as vehicles. 

Hyundai hasn’t disclosed trim levels, but it likely will follow the current range of SE, SEL, Limited, and now Calligraphy.  

On the outside, the Santa Fe flashes new front and rear ends with revised LED head- and taillights. The lower bumper is wider and supports a front skid plate matched at the rear, while the grille stretches into new headlights that form a T-shape with narrow daytime running lights above it. In profile, the rounded wheel arches with a rear kick and the creased door panels look like its big sibling, the Hyundai Palisade. That’s a good thing. Available 20-inch wheels and new alloy wheels tend to the militarized side of design. 

A new tiered dash layout headlines the interior, crowned with an available 10.3-inch touchscreen. Either screen size reigns over a center stack that blends into the center console. An electronic gear shifter replaces the mechanical one to save space, and an available 12.3-inch digital cluster, nappa leather, ambient lighting, and soft-touch padding refines the interior. 

Hyundai says clever packaging has boosted cargo volume one-half cubic foot, which would equate to 71.5 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded down. 

Performance

Changes to the interior second in significance to what’s happening under the hood of the 2021 Santa Fe. The 191-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4 base engine replaces a 185-hp 2.4-liter inline-4 and comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission with front-wheel drive standard or available all-wheel drive. Despite the larger engine, Hyundai estimates a 4% increase in fuel efficiency in front-drive versions to get 26 mpg combined.

An available 2.5-liter turbo-4 replaces the 2.0-liter turbo-4 on 2020 models, and boosts output to 277 hp and 311 pound-feet of torque, representing improvements of 42 hp and 51 lb-ft. It uses a wet dual-clutch 8-speed automatic that improves shift responsiveness and efficiency, Hyundai says. The automaker estimates this engine will be 2 mpg more efficient than the outgoing 2.0-liter turbo-4 up to 25 mpg combined. 

The third powertrain in the Santa Fe lineup is the biggest leap yet in Hyundai’s SUV family. Unlike the Sonata hybrid or Ioniq hybrid sedans, the Santa Fe hybrid powertrain uses a 1.6-liter turbo-4 and two motors making an estimated 225 hp and 195 lb-ft. A 6-speed automatic shuttles power to all four wheels. 

Improved aerodynamics combine with the powertrains for a more efficient ride that Hyundai promises to be quieter, as well. 

Features

Standard features include the larger 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection. Additional available safety features include blind-spot monitors that project the blind spot in the cluster when a turn signal is activated; rear cross-traffic alerts that can also be employed in parallel parking situations; active lane control and adaptive cruise control; a rear seat alert that can detect movement in the back seat then sound the horn and send an alert to the owner’s smartphone; and a safe exit system that sends a warning if a passenger tries to open a door into traffic. We expect it to follow the 2020 Santa Fe’s lead by acing crash tests and earning at least a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS. 

Hyundai hasn’t detailed the feature set on each trim level, but available features include remote start that can also warm or cool the seats, a remote parking feature that pulls the Santa Fe in or backs it out of tight spaces without a driver, and enhanced connected car features through the Blue Link system. 

One thing hasn’t changed: The 2021 Santa Fe gets Hyundai’s peerless 5-year/60,000-mile warranty with 3-year/36,000-mile complimentary scheduled maintenance.  

How much does the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe cost?

Pricing will be announced late this year. The current model starts at $27,450, including destination. 

Where is the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe made?

The Santa Fe gas models are produced in Alabama, while the hybrid will be made in South Korea. Details on the plug-in hybrid are expected in 2021. 


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