Hyundai’s mid-sizer gets a fresh face, a more upscale interior, and an available turbocharged hybrid model for 2021.
Hyundai is continuing its product offensive with a substantial update to its Sante Fe. The Korean brand showed off the new look earlier this year, and this week it provided more details on the mid-size SUV. The longest-running name in Hyundai’s SUV lineup will gain new looks outside and in, with a more powerful optional turbo engine and a new hybrid model joining the ranks.
Changes to the exterior aren’t massive—unless you count the grille. The Santa Fe has a big toothy grin for 2021, with the current model’s chrome strip migrating from the top to the bottom of the grille. The foglights now blend into the grille corners too, giving the Sante Fe a visual tie to the new 2022 Tucson. We like the big star-like wheel design too, which feels at least partially influenced by the lovable Veloster N.
New Engines, including a hybrid model
In reality, every engine is new to the Sante Fe for 2021. The standard engine is now the 2.5-liter inline-four found elsewhere in the lineup, such as in the new Sonata. It produces 191 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque in the Sante Fe, hooked up to an eight-speed automatic.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Review
Above that sits a turbocharged engine with the same displacement. Power is up 18 percent over the existing 2.0-liter turbo, for estimated outputs of 277 hp and 311 lb-ft. This one pair with an eight-speed transmission too, of the dual-clutch variety.
Hyundai says both engines will offer increased fuel efficiency over their predecessors, to the tune of between 4 and 9 percent. That depends on drivetrain: front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional for either engine. The biggest gains are for the turbo engine: for all-wheel drive models, Hyundai is targeting the same 24 mpg combined for both engines.
Want even more fuel efficiency? Like the upcoming Kia Sorento, the Sante Fe will now feature a hybrid option, pairing the parent company’s 1.6-liter turbo engine with 44-kW electric motor. The combined outputs stand at 225 hp and 195 lb-ft, sent to all four wheels via a specially-tuned six-speed auto.
More premium interior, Calligraphy trim
Inside the refreshed Sante Fe, Hyundai has retired the traditional shifter. In its place on the center console is a push-button setup. It frees up space, which is now filled with buttons for the climate controls, infotainment, and selectable drive modes. The base infotainment screen grows to 8.0 inches (from 7.0); the higher-spec option is 10.25 (up from 8.0). The digital instrument panel measures a full 12.3 inches across.
For 2021, a new Calligraphy trim sits atop the lineup. It piles on the luxury, bringing in quilted and perforated Nappa leather, soft-touch surfaces, and ambient lighting. Elsewhere in the lineup, the SE, SEL, and SEL Convenience trims gain wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. All models will now include a wireless charger, and a voice command system.
The 2.5-liter versions of the 2021 Santa Fe should be arriving in dealerships before the end of this year. Hyundai is targeting the first quarter of 2021 for the hybrid version—and a plug-in may arrive after that. As for pricing, we’ll know closer to those dates.
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