Expert New Car Review: 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe by Larry Nutson
Both Style and Utility
By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
As we gradually emerge from this pandemic tunnel we’re all in, the hard-hit auto industry is seeing an increase in sales. The Hyundai brand is doing very well. They’ve recently seen two record-setting months and overall sales are up 48-percent for the first four months of this year.
Hyundai’s Santa Fe 5-passenger compact utility vehicle (UV) is doing well. This fourth generation of the Santa Fe has gotten a mid-cycle refresh with design changes and many new features for the 2021 model. Sales are up 53-percent in the first third of 2021.
The pandemic has also brought about changes in the way auto makers communicate product information to the news media. Back in December I along with other members of the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) got a complete virtual walk-around of the 2021 Santa Fe highlighting its new features during a MAMA eMeet. Santa Fe Product Manager Trevor Lai led MAMA members in a Zoom presentation on the 2021 Santa Fe and also fielded our questions.
As a follow up to that I recently drove the new 2021 Santa Fe in and around Chicago where I make my home. Like the larger Palisade, Hyundai has added a new, range-topping Calligraphy trim which has more content and differentiation. The Calligraphy is what I experienced for my drive.
On the outside there’s new front and rear bumper fascias, new grille, and new headlamp, tail lamp and LED lighting signatures. Power-folding side mirrors and puddle lamps, front and rear skid plates and muffler design, and alloy wheel designs are also new.
In the cabin, the lower dashboard, instrument cluster, and center fascia with high console design are new. A shift-by-wire transmission selector is new as is increased rear seat legroom. A long list of advanced driver-assist safety (ADAS) features is available including forward collision avoidance with pedestrian and bicycle detection, as well as blind-spot, rear-cross traffic and parking-collision avoidance assist systems. Hyundai’s remote smart park assist (you do remember smaht pahk) is also available.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless device charging, Hyundai digital key and voice recognition round out the tech features.
Overall the new 2021 Santa Fe is slightly longer and wider, and also a touch lower, providing a bit more passenger and cargo room.
There’s a choice of three powertrains. A 191-hp 2.5-L with an 8-speed automatic is standard. A 277-hp turbocharged 2.5-L with a wet 8-speed dual-clutch transmission DCT is available. And there’s a new-for-Santa Fe 1.6-L turbo hybrid electric (HEV) with 226-system horsepower mated to a 6-speed automatic. The use of a traditional automatic is unique compared to the typical CVT application in a HEV.
Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system with normal, smart and sport modes is available.
Other technical changes include improvements in aerodynamics, braking performance, ride and handling, body structure stiffness, as well as reduced noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).
Santa Fe is offered in SE, SEL, Limited and Calligraphy trims. SE and SEL have the 191-hp engine. Limited and Calligraphy get the 277-hp turbo. The SEL has a choice of Convenience or Premium packages and is the only model offered with the HEV. HTRAC is a free-standing option, although standard with the HEV.
Pricing starts at $27,000 for the SE with front-wheel drive and rises to $42,450 for the top Calligraphy model. Pricing for the Santa Fe HEV will be released when it goes on sale.
For my Chicagoland drive experience I drove the top line Calligraphy trim with a base price of $42,100. Quartz White paint for $300, carpeted floor mats for $155 plus the destination charge of $1,175 brought the total to $43,750.
Before I had the chance to give the Santa Fe a walkaround and step back to get a good view of the outside, I needed to drive to a location to do that. My first impression was of the interior. As I climbed in I was “wowed” by the tasteful beige leather seating with its textured and quilted patterns and the high console design that partitioned the front cabin. There is an overall feeling of high quality and premium refinement. The soft touch padding and ambient lighting add to the upscale look and feel.
The Calligraphy’s 227-hp powertrain delivers very good all-around performance. Nothing is lacking. I do like dual-clutch transmissions and the wet-clutch design helps provide smooth performance. It’s calibrated nicely for good up- and down-shifting. EPA fuel economy ratings for this powertrain are 24 mpg combined, with 21 city mpg and 28 highway mpg.
Ride is comfortable with confident handling, aided by the AWD system. Steering effort is balanced. The 55-series tires mounted on 19-inch wheels were a good combination for the not-so-smooth city streets. Rear seat passengers will not be scrunched together and there is decent cargo room.
Go to www.hyundai.com for more details on the new Santa Fe. Hyundai provides what it says is America’s Best Warranty with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty and 7-year anti-perforation warranty. There’s also Complimentary Maintenance for 3 years/36,000 miles of normal oil changes and tire rotations.
The Hyundai Santa Fe is one of about eight other viable vehicles to consider in the segment if you are shopping for a new compact crossover utility. The segment sales are over one million a year and is forecasted to continue at that level for at least the next five or six years.
Hyundai believes younger couples working in the tech industry with earnings in the low six-figures and who are attracted to own stylish items to go along with their active lifestyles will be attracted to the Santa Fe. That might just be you!
© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Adds Innovative Design, Powertrain and Driver Convenience Technologies
- New Smartstream 2.5-liter Turbocharged Engine with estimated 277 Horsepower
- Striking Design Cues with Advanced Lighting Signature Technology
- New Available Hybrid Propulsion with All-Wheel Drive Capability
- New Advanced Driver Convenience and Safety Features
- New, Upscale Calligraphy Edition
FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Oct. 12, 2020 – Hyundai today announced the introduction of its 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV with a freshened design motif, advanced front and rear lighting signatures, new hybrid powertrain with all-wheel drive and extensive new driver safety and convenience features. The hybrid propulsion system is the first application of its kind in the Hyundai SUV line-up. In addition, a new, upscale Calligraphy trim will be offered for the first time. Santa Fe internal combustion models will be produced at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama and will arrive at dealerships by the end of the year, while the Santa Fe Hybrid model will be produced in Ulsan, Korea and will arrive in the first quarter 2021. In addition, a Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid model will arrive later in 2021.
2021 Santa Fe Highlights
- New, range-topping Calligraphy trim adds even more content and differentiation
- New front and rear bumper fascia, grille, headlamp, tail lamp and LED lighting signatures
- New power-folding side mirrors and puddle lamps
- New front and rear skid plates and muffler design
- New alloy wheel designs
- New, standard Smartstream 2.5-liter direct-injected and multi-point injected four-cylinder engine (with idle, stop and go) with eight-speed automatic transmission replaces former 2.4-liter direct-injected engine
- New, available Smartstream 2.5-liter turbocharged, direct-injected powertrain with eight-speed wet, dual-clutch transmission (DCT) replaces former 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with an 18 percent increase in power
- New, available Smartstream 1.6-liter turbocharged hybrid electric powertrain variant with six-speed automatic HEV-tuned transmission and HTRAC® all-wheel drive standard
- New shift-by-wire transmission mode selector frees up center console switchgear space
- New 7-pin trailer wire connection replaces former 4-pin design on 2.5T models
- New trailer sway control function for towing
- Forward Collision Avoidance-Assist with Pedestrian Detection
- New, additional Cyclist and Junction-Turning Detection
- New Parking Collision Avoidance Assist – Reverse Function
- New Highway Drive Assist (new, next-generation convenience functions)
- New Lane Following Assist
- New, navigation-based Smart Cruise Control with Road Curve Control
- New quilted premium Nappa leather seating surfaces and soft-touch padding
- New premium door panel accents and eco-suede headliner
- New center stack and console design with new lower instrument panel design
- New driver profile settings (Integrated Memory System, HVAC Control, Radio)
- New ambient lighting selections
- Rear cargo area volume increased by one-half cubic foot
Technology and Multi-media
- New, larger eight-inch audio display (formerly seven-inch), new, larger 10.25-inch widescreen navigation display (formerly eight-inch)
- New, segment-leading 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display
- New Digital Key functions, a segment-exclusive feature
- Remote Start cabin temperature, heated and ventilated seat settings control
- New Harman-Kardon premium audio system
- New Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA), a segment-exclusive feature
- New Dynamic Voice Recognition system (voice commands for temperature, radio, trunk)
- New wireless charging pad for devices
- New wireless Android Auto® and Apple CarPlay® (SE, SEL and SEL Convenience trim)
Bold New Look
The bold new face of the Santa Fe is enhanced with a wider, three-dimensional grille and a striking T-shaped LED illumination signature, including daytime running lights. The new silhouette sports a horizontal cabin profile, scalloped lower door panels and a long, highly-defined hood, with character lines extending from front to rear. Sharp shoulder crease lines connect front and rear LED lights, while rear reflector accents visually link the LED rear taillights.
The profile of the Santa Fe features a large daylight opening (DLO) with a satin surround that provides a sleek appearance with excellent visibility. The alloy wheels receive all new designs and add a new 20-inch alloy wheel. The roof side rails have a fresh design, and power-folding side mirrors with turn-signal indicators and puddle lamps are now available.
The Santa Fe interior now features a high-position console design indicative of a premium SUV interior. A new floating center console design adds a more spacious feel throughout the cabin. Available premium materials, including soft Nappa leather, soft-touch padding, new ambient lighting and a new 10.25-inch touchscreen display further enhance the luxurious character of the interior. A multi-layered, three-dimensional instrument panel and contrasting seat stitching convey premium touches throughout the cabin. Santa Fe’s large DLO enhances the feeling of openness for occupants with generous amounts of natural light. In addition, rear cargo area volume has increased by one-half cubic foot through optimization of the interior packaging.
Santa Fe Calligraphy Trim
2021 Santa Fe adds a new premium Calligraphy trim for buyers seeking the ultimate in styling differentiation, premium materials, exclusive features and advanced technologies. Calligraphy builds upon the Santa Fe Limited model with the more powerful 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, adding HTRAC® AWD with downhill brake control, exclusive-design 20-inch alloy wheels, quilted Nappa leather, full-color heads-up display, premium-finish front grille, premium door and seat accent trim, eco-suede headliner, expanded ambient lighting themes and auto up/down rear windows.
2021 Santa Fe now offers three new and improved powertrain options. The standard powertrain is a Smartstream 2.5-liter direct-injected (DI) and multi-point injected (MPI) four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, replacing the former 2.4-liter engine. This standard four-cylinder engine produces an estimated 191 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and an estimated 182 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm for effortless driving in a wide variety of conditions. The powertrain also features Idle, Stop and Go (ISG) capability to maximize efficiency in various heavy traffic conditions. The new 2.5-liter engine fuel economy is targeted to increase approximately eight percent over the 2020 powertrain from these improvements.
2021 Combined Fuel Economy
2020 Engine Combined Fuel Economy
2.5L I4 FWD
2.5L I4 AWD
2.5L Turbo FWD
2.5L Turbo AWD
Santa Fe also offers a high-output Smartstream 2.5-liter direct-injected four-cylinder turbocharged engine coupled with an all-new eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission (DCT), replacing the former 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and improving peak horsepower by 18 percent. This all-new powerplant produces an estimated 277 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and an estimated 311 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm for brisk acceleration and effortless highway cruising. The wet dual-clutch transmission offers numerous benefits when mated to the turbocharged engine, including high-precision shift response, greater efficiency through reduced parasitic losses and increased torque capacity via the enhanced lubrication of the oil-based wet clutch design. The new 2.5-liter turbo engine fuel economy is targeted to increase approximately four to five percent over the 2020 powertrain from these improvements.
Combined Engine Injection Systems
These all-new engines utilize both direct-injection and multi-point injection technology to leverage the wider range of benefits from each injection technology. Direct injection benefits from greater oxygen density in the combustion chamber combined with increased atomization of the intake charge for maximum power and efficiency, especially at mid- to high engine speeds. Conversely, multi-point injection helps to reduce emissions at lower rpm and lower engine torque loads. Together, these two injection systems are synchronized to yield ideal power, efficiency and low emissions throughout the full range of engine speeds and operating conditions.
Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission
The eight-speed transmission for the standard 2.5-liter engine provides quick and crisp shifts for an engaging and efficient driving experience. The automatic transmission adds ratio range at both the top and bottom of output speeds allowing for extra thrust off-the-line and a quieter, more fuel-efficient trip on the interstate. A multi-disc and individually controlled hydraulic channel torque converter improves responsiveness by expanding the direct connection band, while a downsized oil pump and double ball bearings minimize frictional losses.
All-New Hybrid Propulsion System with HTRAC® All-Wheel Drive
In the first-ever application for the Hyundai SUV family, 2021 Santa Fe now offers a hybrid propulsion system for eco-focused buyers. SUV buyers expect all-weather capability and the Santa Fe Hybrid includes standard HTRAC® all-wheel drive. The hybrid powertrain features a Smartstream 1.6-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder engine coupled with a new HEV-tuned six-speed automatic transmission. This new six-speed transmission is specially tuned for optimal efficiency, economy and driving performance in a turbocharged HEV application. The turbo engine yields an estimated output of 178 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, with an estimated 225 horsepower from the combined engine and motor system, and peak torque estimated at 195 lb.-ft. at 4,000 rpm.
The HEV starter-generator and the electric drive motor are both permanent-magnet type systems, with the hybrid starter-generator rated at 13kW and the electric drive motor rated at 44kW (59 horsepower). The system utilizes a lithium-ion polymer battery rated at 1.5 kWh and 270V/5.5 Ah, with a maximum battery output of 64kW, efficiently storing the hybrid’s electric energy efficiently in a compact and lightweight package.
HTRAC® Advanced AWD System
Santa Fe offers Hyundai’s HTRAC® All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) system. The HTRAC AWD system was developed as a multi-mode system, providing an electronic, variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control between the front and rear axles. The driver-selectable HTRAC Normal, Sport and Smart modes help provide confident control in all weather conditions. The Sport setting gives a more agile feel by sending more available torque to the rear wheels, for a sporty dynamic feel when desired. This system has a wider range of torque distribution variability than many competitive systems and has been tuned to conditions such as straight-line acceleration, medium- and high-speed cornering, and hill starts. The new Santa Fe Hybrid model includes HTRAC all-wheel drive as standard equipment.
Ride Comfort and Driving Confidence
Ride comfort, handling and driving confidence are enhanced through key developments in the body structure, braking system and rigidity of the 2021 Santa Fe. The braking system was significantly enhanced with a high-capacity booster, increased rotor size and refinements to the ABS/ESC system for smooth and confident function in a wider variety of adverse driving conditions.
The 2021 Santa Fe body structure includes increased high-tensile steel for greater body rigidity, improving ride and handling while reducing weight. Noise from acceleration is reduced from a redesigned isolation pad in the instrument panel structure. In addition, the aerodynamic coefficient of drag (Cd) for Santa Fe has improved from 0.34 to 0.33 Cd through redesigned undercovers for the subframe, engine compartment, and center/rear floor areas.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems
Santa Fe features Hyundai’s latest SmartSense advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). A series of sensors and systems often restricted to luxury SUVs combines to potentially warn the driver and help take action in the event of a potential collision. Meanwhile, other ADAS systems can help the driver perform certain tasks using the SUV’s multiple radar sensors, ultrasonic sensors and cameras.
Santa Fe is very popular with families with children for good reason - its Hyundai Smart Sense safety feature suite is extensive, including the following impressive list:
- Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian, Cyclist and Junction-Turning Detection
- Blind-spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist
- Lane Keeping Assist and Lane Following Assist
- Highway Driving Assist
- Blind Spot View Monitor
- Safe Exit Assist and Ultrasonic Rear Occupant Alert
- Driver Attention Warning
- Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go
- Parking Distance Warning (Forward and Reverse)
- Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist (Reverse)
Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian, Cyclist and Junction-Turning Detection
The 2021 Santa Fe is fitted with standard Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian, cyclist and junction-turning detection, an advanced active safety feature that is activated when a vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist is sensed in front of the car with potential for a collision.
Blind-spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist
Blind-spot Collision-Avoidance Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist help detect vehicles approaching from behind and help to avoid potential collisions. This system now includes parallel parking situations as part of its assistance.
Lane Following Assist
Lane Following Assist (LFA) may automatically adjust steering to help keep the vehicle centered in its lane of travel and can help keep the vehicle centered on both highways and city streets.
Highway Driving Assist
Highway Driving Assist (HDA) is a driving convenience system that assists drivers in maintaining the center of the lane, while keeping a safe distance to the car in front and can help maintain vehicle speeds according to posted speed limits on federal interstate highways.
Blind-Spot View Monitor
The Blind-Spot View Monitor with the Santa Fe’s outside mirror-mounted cameras offers the driver an enhanced field of vision, scanning for vehicles entering the driver’s blind spot. When a turn signal is activated, an image of the view from the corresponding wing mirror is displayed in the 12.3-inch cluster display.
The new Santa Fe uses cameras to provide the driver with an enhanced, bird’s-eye view of the car’s exterior, giving the driver confidence when manoeuvring into or out of spaces.
Ultrasonic Rear Occupant Alert
Ultrasonic Rear Occupant Alert monitors the rear seats to detect the movements of children and pets, reminding drivers to check the rear seats when exiting the vehicle; if the system detects movement in the rear seats after the driver leaves the vehicle, it will sound the horn and send an alert to the driver’s smartphone via Blue Link.
Safe Exit Assist
Santa Fe also features Hyundai’s standard Safe Exit Assist system that uses radar to help detect cars approaching from the rear and cautions passengers seeking to exit the vehicle. If a passenger attempts to open the door when a car is approaching from behind, a visual and acoustic warning on the center cluster may alert the driver and the door may be locked.
Advanced Technologies, Connectivity and Convenience
2021 Santa Fe also receives a new 10.25-inch widescreen full-touch navigation system for easy viewing and an available, segment-leading 12.3-inch fully-digital instrument gauge cluster. Wireless device charging makes it easier than ever to keep devices fully-charged on the go. Even more, Dynamic Voice Recognition is an advanced voice recognition system that utilizes simple voice commands to conveniently perform specific controls for the cabin such as: temperature adjustment, radio, hatch opening/closing, heated steering wheel, heated/cooled seats, and others. The system can also assist with various points of interest (POI), weather status and stock market data.
Santa Fe’s Digital Key is a segment-exclusive feature that is now supported via a dedicated smartphone app. The Hyundai Digital Key app also allows smartphones to control selected vehicle systems remotely. Users can lock and unlock the vehicle, activate the panic alert and start the engine.
Digital Key allows owners to leave traditional keys at home and allows secure sharing of keys with family and friends. The level of access to different vehicle functions can be tailored to each shared key user for a defined period. For additional convenience in cases such as using a valet service, Digital Key can also work via a Near Field Communication (NFC) card. Digital Key is currently compatible only with phones using the Android operating system.
Remote Smart Park Assist
Remote Smart Park Assist, a segment-exclusive vehicle technology, allows owners to park and retrieve their Santa Fe from the tightest of parking spaces from outside the vehicle, a very convenient feature. Before a driver attempts to load passengers or luggage, the remote parking function can prove particularly useful, bringing the vehicle out of a tight space. The driver simply uses the smart key to drive the SUV forward or backward, into or out of a parking space, garage or any tight parking situation.
Remote Start with Heated and Ventilated Seats
Remote Start uses a cellular data connection via the Blue Link app that allows an owner to warm up or cool down a Santa Fe remotely, including its heated or ventilated seats, a segment-exclusive feature. Santa Fe added Remote Start to the 2021 Santa Fe’s key fob for models with Push Button Start.
Premium Infotainment and Sound Systems
Santa Fe offers a premium sound system that is perfectly tuned to the acoustic qualities of its upscale interior. A 630-watt, 12-speaker, Harman-Kardon premium audio system with an 11-channel amplifier features Clari-Fi™ music restoration technology and Quantum Logic™ Surround Sound technology. Clari–Fi works in real-time to rebuild audio details lost in digitally compressed music, while Quantum Logic™ extracts signals from the original recording and redistributes them into an authentic, multidimensional soundstage for playback that is clear, refined and full of detail. The result is a more robust and enjoyable on-road listening experience.
Wireless Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto® are now available on Santa Fe models not equipped with navigation, while standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functions remain standard on navigation-equipped models. For passengers, dual front and rear USB outlets are available (one for power/data and three for power). Even more, Santa Fe offers a rear seat quiet mode which allows the driver and passenger to enjoy their own music or media while reducing disturbance to the rear passengers.
Heads-Up Display (HUD)
The available Heads-Up Display (HUD) projects an 8.5-inch virtual color image onto the windshield, enabling the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road. Key driving information such as speed, Smart Cruise Control status, navigation, safety features, speed limit, and audio system data is projected at a perceived virtual distance approximately seven feet ahead of the driver for maximum legibility.
Blue Link® Connected Car System
The 2021 Santa Fe receives many Blue Link® Connected Car System enhancements. As with most Hyundai models, Blue Link is complimentary on the 2021 Santa Fe for three years and includes Remote Start with Climate Control, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, Stolen Vehicle Recovery and Destination Search by Voice. Blue Link features can be accessed via interior controls or through the MyHyundai.com web portal, the MyHyundai with Blue Link smartphone app, the Amazon® Alexa Blue Link skill and the Blue Link Google Assistant app. Some features can also be controlled via Android Wear™ and Apple Watch™ smartwatch apps.
2021 Santa Fe improvements include:
- Remote profile management—stores select vehicle settings to the Blue Link cloud, with the ability to remotely update them and push them back to the vehicle so it is personalized to driver preferences
- Remote start enhancements:
- Remote seat heating and ventilation (on/off/level for each individual heated/cooled seat)
Profile selection (preloads individual driver settings for seating position/side mirrors)
- Remote seat heating and ventilation (on/off/level for each individual heated/cooled seat)
- Vehicle Status Notifications—if the vehicle is left with doors unlocked or windows open, customers will receive a notification
- POI Send to Car now with Waypoints (ability to add up to three way points, to be delivered to the vehicle together and automatically set order of destinations)
- Maintenance Alert Enhancement—maintenance interval tracking is now visible in the multimedia system, with ability to reset
More details on specific Blue Link–equipped vehicles available at www.hyundaibluelink.com.
Hyundai Complimentary Maintenance and America’s Best Warranty®
Hyundai Complimentary Maintenance is the latest addition to the Hyundai Assurance program, which promises to create a better experience for shoppers and owners of Hyundai vehicles. Hyundai Assurance is made up of Owner Assurance, now including complimentary maintenance, and Shopper Assurance, which together offer customers a variety of ways to simplify the buying process and improve the owning and service experience. Details on these promises include:
- America’s Best Warranty: 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty and 7-year anti-perforation warranty
- Complimentary Maintenance: 3 years/36,000 miles of normal oil changes and tire rotations
Hyundai Motor America
At Hyundai Motor America, we believe everyone deserves better. From the way we design and build our cars to the way we treat the people who drive them, making things better is at the heart of everything we do. Hyundai’s technology-rich product lineup of cars, SUVs and alternative-powered electric and fuel cell vehicles is backed by Hyundai Assurance—our promise to create a better experience for customers. Hyundai vehicles are sold and serviced through more than 820 dealerships nationwide and nearly half of those sold in the U.S. are built at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama. Hyundai Motor America is headquartered in Fountain Valley, California, and is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea.
Please visit our media website at www.HyundaiNews.com