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2021 Hyundai Santa Fe adds new looks, hybrid engine, more features


The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe will see a host of changes including a new front-end design, a hybrid engine and more. Here is what you need to know.

New look for 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe 

Kicking off the changes for the 2021 Santa Fe is the most obvious one — a wider, three-dimensional grille and new headlights. The “T-shaped LED illumination signature” incorporates a new design theme many other Hyundai products, such as the 2022 Tucson, will use.

This new grille helps accentuate a horizontal cabin profile with plenty of body styling on the sides from front to rear tying in the rear lights.

The alloy wheels get all-new designs and add a 20-inch alloy model.

Finally, the roof side rails have a new design, and power-folding side mirrors with turn-signal indicators and puddle lamps are now available.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Interior

A new 10.5-inch infotainment screen along with a new design will greet passengers. (Photo courtesy of Hyundai)

Interior design updates

Inside the cabin, Hyundai has added a high-position console design, which has a more premium SUV look to it.

Plus, available lux-level accents and materials — such as Nappa leather, soft-touch padding, ambient lighting and a 10.25-inch touchscreen display — really add to the premium feel.

As does the multi-layered, three-dimensional instrument panel and contrast seat stitching really driving home the upscale appearance.

Finally, the rear cargo area has been increased by one-half cubic foot through changes in the interior layout.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy

A new Calligraphy trim will be available on the 2021 Santa Fe (Photo courtesy Hyundai)

New ‘Calligraphy’ trim

The 2021 Santa Fe adds a Calligraphy trim, taking the Limited model to another level of luxury with exclusive features and advanced technology unlike the N-line sporty trim coming to the Kona.

This trim will be equipped with the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine, adding AWD and downhill brake control. It will ride on exclusive-design 20-inch alloy wheels and sport a premium-finish front grille as well as door and seat accent trim.

Inside the cabin, drivers will experience quilted Nappa leather, a full-color heads-up display, eco-suede headliner, expanded ambient lighting themes and auto up/down rear windows.

Powertrain choices

The standard powertrain for the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe will be a 2.5-liter direct-injected and multi-port injected four-cylinder mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission replacing the outgoing 2.4-liter engine. This engine will produce an estimated 191 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 182 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm.

It also features automatic stop/start capability, which allows the engine to turn off automatically when not needed.

Thus the 2021 Santa Fe is estimated to return approximately 8% improvement in fuel economy versus the outgoing model.

2021 Combined Fuel Economy

(internal estimates)

2020 Engine Combined Fuel Economy 2021

% Improvement

(internal estimates)

2.5L I4 FWD 26 25 4.0%
2.5L I4 AWD 24 24
2.5L Turbo FWD 25 23 8.7%
2.5L Turbo AWD 24 22 9.1%


The 2.5L direct-injected 4-cylinder with an all-new eight-speed, wet dual-clutch transmission replaces the former 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, improving horsepower by 18% and is estimated to return 277 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 311 pound-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm.

Hyundai says the wet dual-clutch transmission should offer high-precision shift response, greater efficiency through reducing parasitic losses and increased torque capacity through the enhanced lubrication of the oil-based wet clutch design.

These engines feature both direct-injection and multi-point injection to yield ideal power, efficiency and low emissions throughout the full range of the engine speeds and operating conditions.

New hybrid system

A first for any Hyundai SUV, the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe will be offered with a hybrid propulsion system and comes standard with AWD. The powertrain combines a 1.6-liter direct-injected, turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine with a new six-speed automatic transmission tuned for the hybrid. This combination produces 178 horsepower at 6,000 rpm with an estimated 225 horsepower from a combined engine and motor system with peak torque of 195 pound-feet at 4,000 rpm.

This engine is paired with a lithium-ion polymer battery rated at 1.5 kWh and 270 V/5.5 Ah with a maximum battery output of 64kW.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

Engineers have made a variety of changes to improve how the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe will perform on and off the road. (Photo courtesy of Hyundai)

Better ride quality

Hyundai says it also improved the ride comfort and driving confidence through a host of key changes to the body structure, braking system and rigidity of the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe.

For example, it added a high-capacity booster to the braking system, significantly improving stopping performance.

Hyundai also improved the ABS/ESC system for better function in adverse conditions.

Finally, it added more high-tensile steer for greater body rigidity to improve ride and handling while reducing weight. Noise was also decreased as was the coefficient of drag from .34 to .33 through redesigning the way air moves around the vehicle.

Advanced driver-assistance systems

The 2021 Santa Fe also gets Hyundai’s latest SmartSense suite of advanced driver-assistance systems. Through a series of sensors and systems, these systems help drivers avoid potential collisions as well as make everyone around them safer.

Here is the list of safety features as part of SmartSense:

  • 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)

Finally, there is a remote smart park assist, allowing the vehicle to park for you.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

More premium materials, more technology and more safety systems are all included in the 2021 Santa Fe. (Photo courtesy Hyundai)

Even more tech

Wrapping up all the tech, there is a new 8.5-inch head-up display showing key information like speed, cruise control status, navigation, safety features, speed limit and audio system data.

Plus, you can use the Blue Link Connected Car system to utilize remote start with climate control (warming up your seat on a cold day), remote lock/unlock, stolen vehicle recovery and destination search by voice.

Finally, there is a premium sound system available with a 630-watt, 12-speaker Harman-Kadon setup along with a 11-channel amplifier with Clari-Fi music restoration technology and Quantum Logic surround system technology. The Clari-Fi works in real-time to rebuild audio details lost when the music was digitally compressed.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now available on model without navigation while standard on models with navigation. Passengers also have access to dual front and rear USB outlets.

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe will be built at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant and will arrive at dealerships by the end of 2020. For the Santa Fe Plug-in hybrid, this will arrive later in 2021. Pricing will be announced at a later date.

The bottom line on the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

As one of Hyundai’s best-selling SUVs, the midsize Santa Fe is in one of the most competitive and hottest markets in the U.S. These changes should add to the vehicle’s competitiveness, and with one of the best powertrain warranties on the market, 10 years or 100,000 miles, the refreshed Santa Fe is going to be an attractive choice for shoppers.

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Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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