The Santa Fe is Hyundai’s SUV that carries an unfair advantage. The EPA classification defines the Santa Fe as a mid-size SUV, but its compact crossover’s entry price point makes it seem like a great value.
Last year, the Santa Fe was one of the top 10 best-selling mid-size SUVs in the U.S., overcoming the Chevy Blazer’s sales figure by almost 7,000 units. It is easy to see why people in the States like the Santa Fe—its charming looks, spacious interior, nice driving position, and good fuel economy are goodies that make it a great daily driver for the family.
Besides, Hyundai has not stopped improving the Santa Fe—the model received numerous significant upgrades this year. It now sits on a new platform, new front and rear styling, and several interior improvements. The new top-of-the-range Calligraphy trim, inspired by its bigger brother Palisade, and all power units have been refreshed to more powerful and fuel-efficient ones.
Moreover, a hybrid variant is also coming later in the year, featuring a 1.6-liter turbocharged unit paired with an electric motor. Hence, it is certainly a major facelift.
In terms of design, the refreshed look of the 2021 Santa Fe is subtle but noticeable. The grille is now even larger, and together with the T-shaped LED daytime running lights, it carries a bold and futuristic presence. Hyundai has made it even posher with chrome accents on the higher trims, and the gentle curves around the bodywork are elegant touches that are very appreciable.
Furthermore, the Korean SUV is quite large for its class, measuring 188.4 inches in length, 74.8 inches in width, and 67.3 inches in height. Besides, with an 8.2 inches ground clearance, the Santa Fe is not afraid to get a little dirty on some off-roading course.
Overall, the 2021 Santa Fe is a large and elegant-looking SUV that has done more than enough to justify its price.
The 2021 Santa Fe features a superb interior for its price. Soft-touch materials are the norm, from the dashboard to the door trims and center console. The design is nice and clean as well, with all buttons gathered in the middle. Next to them is the gear selector, which is now push-button like the Palisade one, freeing up additional storage space below.
There is nothing to worry about passenger space as well. Five people can sit comfortably inside, thanks to the large 111.5 cubic feet passenger volume. Headroom and knee room at the back are plenty; also, the rear seats recline quite far to the back, providing the rear passengers with a relaxed seating position, great for long journeys.
In other markets, the Santa Fe even comes as a 7-seater. But in the U.S., the third-row seats are traded with a large trunk space, measuring 36.4 cubic feet. Folding the rear seats is easy with a push of a button at the side of the trunk, creating a flat floor that expands the cargo area to a massive 72.1 cubic feet.
However, the Honda Passport is better at both passenger and cargo space. And its Korean twin Kia Sorento also offers 7-seating capabilities for a slightly higher entry-level price.
The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe retains its SE, SEL, and Limited trim from last year; however, following the footstep of its bigger brother, the 2021 Palisade, there is a new top-of-the-range Calligraphy trim.
All of the powertrains are new as well, with the SE and SEL getting the new 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated engine and the Limited and Calligraphy getting the turbocharged version.
All trims but the Calligraphy comes as standard with FWD, while AWD is available for an extra $1,700. Meanwhile, Calligraphy is only offered in AWD.
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe SE
Starting price: FWD – $26,850, AWD – $28,550
The SE is 2021 Santa Fe’s entry-level trim. It comes with many great features, yet it costs under $30,000.
Although it’s one of the least powerful engines in its class, the SE should not feel that embarrassed since its 2.5-liter 4-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine produces 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. We’d say it’s enough for a daily commute.
Mated to this engine is an 8-speed automatic gearbox, transferring its power to the front or all four wheels. The 0-60 mph time is not too tattered at around 9 seconds, and the top speed is 130 mph.
Meanwhile, the fuel economy is not bad, performing at 25/28 MPG city/highway for the FWD model and 22/25 MPG city/highway for the AWD model. With its 18.8-gallon fuel tank capacity, the Santa Fe has a 470-mile range.
As standard, the SE features a few nice exterior finishes. The front gets a black grille with automatic LED headlights and LED daytime running lights. On the sides, you will find dual-tone 18-inch alloy wheels and rear privacy glass. And at the back, there is a rear spoiler and shark-fin antenna.
The SE features the YES Essentials® cloth seating surfaces in black, beige, or gray. The seats are manually adjustable, and so as the steering wheel and air conditioning.
The driver’s instrument cluster still features analog dials, but the 4.2-inch colored multi-information display is standard. Lastly, the infotainment system features an 8.0-inch touchscreen with built-in wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
Safety and Driver Assistant Features
Although the SE is less expensive than most of its rivals, Hyundai didn’t compromise on safety. As standard, it features 7 airbags, electronic stability control with traction control, and anti-lock brakes.
Some high-end driving aid features are also included, such as Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist that gives you visual and audible warning of an impending collision and applies the brakes when needed. Also, Lane Keeping Assist will automatically steer the vehicle to stay in its lane if it begins to drift over the lane marker.
Moreover, there is adaptive cruise control with stop and go function, hill start assist, and rearview monitor with parking guidance. Thank you, Hyundai, for being so generous on the driver assistant quirks.
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe SEL
Starting price: FWD – $28,650, AWD – $30,350
The SEL is a step up from the SE, featuring the same powertrain. Still, some exterior and interior improvements, extra safety features, and exclusive additional packages are available.
With features carried from the SE, a few additions include a new elegant-looking chrome grille at the front fascia, heated side mirrors, and roof rails.
A few nice upgrades also appear on the inside. For instance, it now has heated front seats and a power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, push start/stop engine button, HD radio, and wireless charging.
The SEL also features Hyundai’s Blue Link connected services, featuring smart features such as remote start with climate control, remote door lock and unlock, on-demand vehicle diagnostics and alerts, destination search, and remote car finder.
Safety and Driver Assistant Features
The SEL gets some additional safety features, such as Blind-Spot Collision Warning that alerts you if the vehicle next lane is in your blind spot, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning that warns you when there is a crossing vehicle as you are about to do a reversing maneuver, and Safe Exit Assist that prevents the rear passenger from opening the door during upcoming traffic approaching from behind.
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited
Starting price: FWD – $38,600, AWD – $40,300
At $10,000 over the SEL, the Limited trim features a more powerful engine, additional driver assistant features, and more exterior and interior upgrades.
If you feel like the non-turbocharged 2.5-liter unit is underpowered, Hyundai has got you covered with a 2.5-liter turbo-four in the Limited trim, producing a massive 277 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque.
The 8-speed automatic transmission is now dual-clutch to increase agility, making gear changes faster and more seamless. As a result, the 0-60 mph time has also improved significantly to 7 seconds.
Although more powerful, the turbocharged engine is as economical as the regular one. Notably, Hyundai rates it at 22/28 MPG city/highway for the FWD model and 21/28 MPG city/highway for the AWD model, making it similarly economical on a highway cruise and just slightly thirstier on city cruising. It features the same 18.8-gallon fuel tank, good enough for a range of about 460 miles.
With features carried from the SEL, the additional standards include dual-tone 19-inch alloys, power-folding function and LED turn-signal indicators on the side mirrors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and panoramic sunroof.
There is also an acoustic-laminated front side glass for better soundproofing. The back gets rear taillights and a hands-free power liftgate that opens up after standing for a few seconds behind the vehicle while carrying the key fob.
The interior is a few steps above the previous trim as well. It now features leather upholstery for the seats, and both front seats are now ventilated and power-adjustable. The rear seats have a heating function, and the driver seat has leg cushion extension and memory settings. Oh, and you can now fold the rear seats with just a touch of a button.
Furthermore, the steering wheel is leather-wrapped and heated, and the analog instrument dials are now replaced with a large 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. There is also dual-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Manual rear side sunshades and ambient interior lighting are also standard.
Other than that, the infotainment system is upgraded to a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon® premium sound system. Sadly, this new system eliminates the wireless capability for the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, meaning you’ll be back using an old school cable.
Safety and Driver Assistant Features
Blind-Spot View Monitor displays a live camera feed of the blind spot into the digital instrument cluster when changing lanes are included. Furthermore, to ease the parking process in tight spaces, you’ll appreciate the Surround-View Camera system that displays a top-down view of the vehicle and its surrounding in the infotainment display. Nonetheless, the most innovative feature is Remote Parking Assist, allowing you to control the vehicle to move forward/backward while you are outside the vehicle using the smart key.
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy
Starting price: AWD – $42,100
The Calligraphy is the new top-of-the-range model for the 2021 Santa Fe, featuring the same powertrain as the Limited trim and the same safety features. However, there are some additional features to make it feel more luxurious inside and out.
On top of the Limited’s features, the upgrades are minor. The front grille design is new, and there are optional fancy-looking 20-inch aluminum wheels worth $200.
Inside, you’ll get some posh upgrades, including a quilted premium Nappa leather seating surfaces in black or beige color, eco-suede microfiber headliner, colorful head-up display, and expanded ambient interior lighting.
A few packages and some single add-ons are available to opt for the 2021 Santa Fe.
Available exclusively on the SEL, the Convenience Package lets this pre-entry level trim have some of the convenience features from the Limited trim, such as acoustic front glass, a turn-signal indicator on the side mirrors, hands-free power liftgate, and LED taillamps.
Inside, there is the addition of a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, manual rear side sunshades, and power-folding second-row seats. In our opinion, this package is worth it.
Available exclusively on the SEL, the Premium Package contains some worthy equipment pieces. Notably, it features some luxurious interior features from the Limited trim, such as leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, 12-speaker Harman Kardon® premium sound system, ambient interior lighting, and a panoramic sunroof.
Single Optional Extras
|Roof rack crossbars||$275|
|Rear bumper applique protector||$75|
|Carpeted floor mats||$155|
|All-season floor liners||$215|
|First aid kit||$30|
The non-turbo SE and SEL trims have a towing capacity of up to 2,000 lbs., while the turbocharged Limited and Calligraphy can tow up to 3,500 lbs.
It is worth noting that every trim of the 2021 Santa Fe is equipped with Trailer Sway Control that controls the vehicle’s brakes to preserve trailer movement as it begins to sway, and the optional tow hitch is available at an extra $450.
Hyundai is amongst the very best in providing warranty compared to other manufacturers in the U.S. The warranty included on top of your 2021 Santa Fe purchase covers:
- Limited warranty of up to 5 years/60,000 miles
- Drivetrain warranty of up to 10 years/100,000 miles (for the first owner)
- Rust warranty of up to 7 years with unlimited mileage
- Roadside assistance program of up to 5 years with unlimited mileage
- Complimentary scheduled maintenance of up to 3 years/36,000 miles
The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe offers one of the best value for money in its class. It’s loaded with features, drives well, and looks and feels like it’s a class above its price. It is a great mid-size family SUV overall.
The turbocharged Limited trim is tempting, but we would recommend getting the SEL trim together with the extra Convenience and Premium packages instead for maximum value.
The non-turbocharged unit is easy enough to live with for most people. However, the premium bits from the add-on packages are nice to have, as Hyundai also provides a suitable warranty for long-term ownership, making it a worthy investment.
Besides, you can also have a mid-tier Hyundai Palisade SEL for the Limited trim’s money, featuring a more punchy V6 engine with 291 hp, a much larger interior and cargo space, and a more luxurious feel overall.
Still, we would also advise you to wait for the new Santa Fe Hybrid coming later this year, as the more eco-friendly and fuel-efficient power unit may very well be worth the wait.
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
|Body Style(s)||Mid-size SUV|
|Displacement (L/cu. in.)||2.5 L/152|
|Horsepower @ RPM||191 @ 6100||277 @ 5800|
|Torque @ RPM||181 @ 4000||311 @ 1700|
|Fuel Injection||Port/Direct Injection|
|Transmission(s)||8-Speed Auto w/ OD||Auto-Shift Manual w/OD|
|Fuel Economy – City||25 MPG||22 MPG||25 MPG||22 MPG||22 MPG||21 MPG||21 MPG|
|Fuel Economy – Hwy||28 MPG||25 MPG||28 MPG||25 MPG||28 MPG||28 MPG||28 MPG|
|Fuel Economy – Combined||26 MPG||24 MPG||26 MPG||24 MPG||25 MPG||24 MPG||24 MPG|
|Passenger volume (cu.ft.)||111.5|
|Cargo volume (cu.ft.)||36.4|
|Curb weight (lbs)||3649||3799||3810||3960||3907||4017||4076|
Wheels & Tires
|Wheel size||18 X 7.5||19 X 7.5||20 X 8|