Susan Frissell, Editor/Publisher

The 2021 Santa Fe brings some new changes for 2021, including a optional powertrain-which helps the weakness of the standard engine . Even at top levels (new Calligraphy $42,100), the top-of-the-line remains more affordable than most of the competition.

Growing in size and offerings, the intro Hyundai Santa Fe-we remember it well-still remains one of the better buys in this five-seat SUV class. Strengths in the Santa Fe remain the same when in comparison; namely, useful technology, pleasing and accommodating interior, among other things.
Part of Hyundai’s update of the Santa Fe includes the 2.5-liter four-cylinder, traditional torque engine paired with the 8-speed wet-dual clutch automatic (from the traditional 8-speed). There are now some updated powertrains available. The new standard engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder (replacing the 2.4-liter 4), and the new Santa Fe hybrid. Our test Santa Fe Calligraphy came equipped with the turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, along with the new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. The new 2.5 turbo has 281 horsepower and 311 pounds-feet torque, with an increase from 46 to 51 lbs. ft.

The good news is there isn’t any loss in amount of gas mileage you can expect. The AWD 2020 Santa Fe with the 2.0-liter turbo gave a rating of 20/26/22 mpg. The 2021 AWD Santa Fe with the 2.5 turbo is rated at 21/28/24 mpg.

The Calligraphy trim level is new for 2021, above the Limited. Buyers won’t want for much in this packed category, but expect to pay for it! Our test driver came in at a total price of $43,730, however must goodies are included. Standing out in the Calligraphy trim level are Nappa leather upholstery, a imitation suede (eco-suede) headliner and full-color head-up display. Santa Fe’s full-color head-up display is updated and intuitive to operate. Included, of course, are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The lower-level S and SEL trim levels have a smaller touchscreen and wireless versions.The SEL trim level can be upgraded.

No question you’ll get a “premium” feel in the Calligraphy. Expect to pay $1,800-to-$2,000 depending on choice of wheel size. Although it may feel and look like luxury, it isn’t considered a ‘luxury’ SUV. It does borrow some goodies from the smaller two-row Palisade. There are so many offerings in the SUV realm today, it’s becoming difficult to keep them straight. One must ask ‘why’ so many? It appears manufacturers see or assume a good deal of demand.

Besides the Calligraphy trim, every 2021 Santa Fe gets a new interior design that makes it feel like a smaller, two-row Palisade. It has a larger, taller and more angular center console design
Hyundai makes some updates in the safety department, including their hands-on semi-autonomous Highway Drive Assist, cyclist and junction-turning detection for the forward automatic emergency braking system, new rear-low-speed automatic emergency braking, lane-following assist and curve-adaptive cruise. A special safety feature on the Santa Fe is the blind-spot view monitor that comes on when the turn signal is used, displaying a real-time image of what’s in either of the SUV’s blind spots in one of two areas on the 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. This is a standard feature on the Calligraphy trim level and Limited version. It is available as an option on the SEL. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but we found it very helpful for a full view of vehicles around us.

Coughing up over $43,000 seems steep for a SUV, but the Santa Fe is no longer what it originally presented itself as. It’s a very comfortable, well-equipped and substantial Sport Ute and one that fits into a more up-graded category than when it was introduced many years ago. It just keeps getting better. Hyundai has made significant improvements for 2021, the turbocharged powertrain is one. It beats the looks of many in its class-think Ford Edge. We suggest you take a test drive.

Pricing: $27,000-$42,450. Total price: $43,730, MSRP: $42,100
Engine: 2.5-L, 277 hp.., in-line 4; horsepower 191-277; Torque 181-311
Transmission: 8-speed automatic; 6-sp. auto AWD
Fuel Tank capacity: 17.7-18.8 gal.
Tires: 235/65R17-235/60R18, R20-235/55R19
Wheels: 19-inch
Trailer weight: 2,000-3,500 lbs.
Length: 188.4 in.
Width: 74.8 in.
Height: 66.3 in.
Wheelbase: 108.9 in.
Weight: 3,649 lbs.
Mileage: 36/31 mpg.
5-seat capacity
Trim levels: SE 2.5 ($27,000), SE 2.5 AWD ($28,700), SEL 2.5 ($28,800)
Competition: Alfa-Romeo Stelvio, Jeep Cherokee
Warranty: Powertrain 5 yr./60,000 miles