Hyundai Santa Fe

The Santa Fe comes in 3 trims the SE, SE Ultimate and the Limited Ultimate, while the Sport model comes in a 2.4L. 2.0L Turbo and 2.0L Turbo Ultimate. All models come standard as front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is an option across the board.

The Santa Fe Sport is powered by either one of two available engines. Both of which are mated to a 6-speed automatic. The standard engine is a 2.4L 4-cylinder making an impressive 185 horsepower. It also produces best-in-class fuel economy, rated at 22 mpg city and 27 mpg on the highway. The Santa Fe Sport 2.0T is powered by a turbocharged 4-cylinder making 240 horsepower. With power equivalent to or better than many of the V6 engines in its class, the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T still returns 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.

The Santa Fe, with three rows of seating, comes standard with a 3.3L V6 making 290 horsepower. Once again, power and fuel economy compare positively to most of its rivals. The Santa Fe accomplishes this feat with a combination of slippery aerodynamics, light weight, a 6-speed transmission and state-of-the-art direct injection on all of its engines.

The Santa Fe has plenty of standard equipment. Even the base Sport model comes with features such as air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with integrated stereo controls, second-row ventilation, power lumbar support, a trip computer and outside thermometer, cruise control, keyless entry, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, a 3-month subscription to Sirius XM satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity.

Buyers opting for the Sport 2.0T get the more powerful engine, along with additional exterior features such as 18-inch wheels, fog lights, heated mirrors, automatic headlight control and a windshield wiper de-icer. Inside, the 2.0T differs from base models with the inclusion of a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a color LCD screen in their gauge cluster, an 8-way power adjustable and heated front seat and a compass.

The Santa Fe SE comes very similarly equipped to the base Sport, though with a much bigger engine and 3-row seating. Notable differences include standard fog lamps and 18-inch wheels on the SE. Likewise, Santa Fe Limited models echo many of the features of the 2.0T, though the Limited is better equipped, including dual-zone climate control, heated second-row seats, a leather interior, a power adjustable front passenger seat, a power rear lift gate, a rearview camera, blind spot detection, an uprated audio system and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Optional equipment includes HID xenon headlights, ventilated seating, front seat and side mirror memory, heated steering wheel, auxiliary outlets and premium audio systems.

All Santa Fe models come with plenty of safety equipment. Acceleration is monitored by a traction control system, while braking is aided by 4-channel anti-lock brakes featuring electronic brake distribution. Airbags are plentiful with front, side and roof-mounted airbags, as well as a driver's knee airbag. Seatbelt pre-tensioners, an anti-theft system and a tire pressure monitoring system round out the Santa Fe's safety features.

Editors' Review

Proponents of trickle-down economics argue that cutting taxes for the wealthy or large corporations benefits everyone because their extra money can be invested to create more jobs or pay higher wages. Of course, it's dubious whether this actually makes any economic sense, but such a top-down approach does work in other fields, like the automotive industry. Case in point: the Hyundai Palisade. With oodles of refinement and an upscale interior, it's one of our favorite three-row SUVs. Now, the Palisade's all-around excellence trickles down to the smaller Santa Fe, which has been significantly updated for 2021.

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe features mildly reworked exterior styling with a broader looking front end, fresh wheel designs and a few smaller tweaks. New powertrains are offered, too, including a 2.5-liter base engine as well as potent 2.5-liter turbo I4. A hybrid version is also available, plus there are more safety and convenience features. Finally, just like its big brother, the Santa Fe is now available in swanky Calligraphy trim. Inside and out, the vehicle feels expressive without being garish, a feat that's tough to achieve.

Dressed in sultry Calypso Red paint, this top-of-the-line model does a convincing impression of a luxury vehicle. Its seats are trimmed with supple Nappa leather and the headliner and roof pillars are swaddled in a suede-like material. The Calligraphy also comes with a full-color head-up display, premium trim and express up and down rear windows, to name a few of its myriad enhancements. Sure, there are some hard plastics here and there, but the dashboard is mostly soft and there are miles of contrast-color stitching.

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The Good ~ Potent and refined engine ~ Comfortable ride ~ Upscale interior

The Bad ~ Low-speed transmission performance ~ Lack of standard driver aids

The Bottom Line You could do a lot worse than the updated Santa Fe.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 8
  • Features 8.5
  • Design 9
  • Media 9

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