It isn’t surprising Hyundai’s Santa Fe SUV earned Kelly Blue Books 2021 Best Buy Award and their Number #1 in Best 2-row Midsize SUV award as it’s a formidable competitor in the crowded crossover/SUV market.
Santa Fe boasts a new platform, eye-grabbing exterior design, upscale interior and top warranty, all at an affordable price.
The 2021 Santa Fe is offered in SE, SEL, Limited and new top-shelf Calligraphy that we tested.
As for appearances, Santa Fe with its bold grille, splashes of brushed aluminum trim and multiple t-shaped LED running lights, all strike an eye-grabbing design.
Santa Fe’s Calligraphy interior is equally as impressive. Its slanted vertical stack puts all controls plus a push button automatic transmission shifter, at an ergonomical position for ease of use. If coming off a console or column transmission shifter, it will only take a short time to acclimate to the convenient push buttons. Plus, there are paddle shifters for those who want some manual control.
A 10.25-inch display seated atop the dash is vivid and serves a host of functions and features including voice control. The display is joined by a 12.3-inch all digital instrument cluster that provides an equal number of operating features including a driver information display.
Santa Fe Calligraphy’s heated/cooled front seats are exceptionally comfy and supportive with tufted upper back rests plus extended under thigh support. All for an enjoyable and relaxing ride.
Ditto for the power folding rear seats that can accommodate two large adults or three youngsters. The rears offer ample leg and headroom with a mere 19.5-inch step-in for easy ingress/egress.
Back in the cockpit where the ceiling and pillars are sueded, one of many notable features is the left and right-side view cameras. They illuminate in the gauge cluster when activating the turn signals. This is a safety feature when attempting a turn as it shows if another vehicle, motorcycle or bicycle is sneaking up on those sides. A standard rearview camera includes an overhead view, front, side and trailer hitch area views.
Santa Fe’s HVAC controls are nicely arranged on the stack and are easy to view and use. Selections can be displayed on the large screen.
A large rotary Drive Mode dial on the stack offers four modes of Smart, Comfort, Sport and Snow. There’s also an 4WD Lock mode that can be engaged up to 37 mph for increased traction on snow, muddy, sandy, off roads. Above that speed, the lock automatically disconnects and reverts to 4WD Auto mode that also distributes power to all four wheels. It’s mostly used on normal roads when added traction may be needed.
When selecting Sport mode, it shows up pictorially on the 10.25-inch infotainment display in red (for hot), and the speedometer trim also turns red. All four mode selections also display vertically within the Driver Information panel between the tachometer and speedometer.
As for the audio, if you tire of music choices and want something more soothing, Santa Fe offers the Sounds of Nature that includes Lively Forest, Calm Sea, Rainy Day, Open Air Café and Warm Fireplace. They’re all selections you have to hear and enjoy.
Another safety feature is a drivers’ seatbelt interlock wherein the SUV won’t move unless your seatbelt is fastened. This is better than the annoying chime many vehicles use as a reminder.
Back in the cargo area and with the rear seats upright there’s 36.4 cubic feet of loading space that measures 43 inches deep, 45 wide and 30 high. Flip the 60/40 rear seatbacks by pushing two buttons and cargo loading space increases to 74 inches. There’s also three, 7-inch deep bins beneath the cargo floor, and five forward bins for small item storage. Lift over into the cargo area is a low 31 inches for easy loading.
Santa Fe is offered with three powertrain choices that include a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 191-hp, a 1.6L hybrid and plug-in hybrid and in the Calligraphy we tested, a 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder producing 277-hp and 311 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 21 city, 28-highway mpg with a dual-clutch 8-speed automatic transmission. The combination offers loads of gusto especially when the turbo kicks in.
In Sport mode, that increases engine rpms by 500, acceleration is even more spirited. The powertrain combination offers a tow rating of 3,500 pounds.
As for ride and handling, shod with Hankook 19-inch tires with 8-inch widths, Santa Fe rides like a full-size SUV. It’s quiet and its coil spring front suspension nicely soaks up road imperfections for a smooth, controlled ride. In sharp, tight turns, there’s virtually no body lean as the SUV is planted.
The standard options list includes forward collision avoidance assist; safe exit assist; blind spot collision avoidance assist/high beam assist; rear cross traffic collision avoidance; lane keeping assist/driver attention warning, lane following assist/highway drive assist; satellites radio; remote smart park assist and many more.
Surprisingly, there was but one extra cost option and it was for floor mats ($155). All other safety features and amenities are included in the bottom line that reflects $43,440 with delivery.
But that’s not all. No one can beat Hyundai’s generous 5 year/60K new vehicle warranty; 10/100K powertrain; 7/Unlimited anti-perforation; 3/36K Complimentary Maintenance and 5/Unlimited roadside assistance.
Santa Fe is a most comprehensive and compelling 4WD midsize SUV.