Quick Spin: 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

We’ve been reviewing cars for almost ten years now, and yet this is only the second Hyundai Santa Fe we’ve had in garage. Our first experience came in 2014 which, in car years, was an eternity ago. This Santa Fe is all new and shares its underpinnings with the Kia Sorento, which we thought was excellent. Surely the two-row only Santa Fe will be just as good as its counterpart.

Starting with the looks, the Hyundai is a bit busy, especially in this Calligraphy trim. The chrome accents, larger and very busy wheels, and polished exhaust tips round out the exterior look of this top trim model. Inside, quilted Napa leather seats and high class material abound with high tech safety features, digital gauge cluster and large touchscreen in the middle of the dash. The Calligraphy also comes standard with an upgraded Harmon Kardon sound system and head-up display. The interior is spacious and, since there is no third row seat, a three-passenger bench replaces captain’s chairs for the second row. Strangely though, the rear cargo area and rear seat room seemed smaller than the Sorento.

When you opt for the Calligraphy or Limited trims, the 2021 Santa Fe trims get a 2.5L turbocharged engine with 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, which can be a little bit clunky at low speeds. It would often coast, disengage and then snap back to engage. It was initially disconcerting, but we got used to it after a week. We certainly wouldn’t call the Santa Fe athletic by any means but it also isn’t the worst thing to hustle through the turns. The steering is well weighted, a stark contrast from Hyundai of just a few years ago, and the brakes are strong with consistent pedal feel. The suspension soaks up the bumps comfortably and keeps things taught in the bends. There’s still some body roll, but not as much as you’d think from a crossover this size.

We enjoyed the week with the Santa Fe Calligraphy and it is certainly an excellent value for money, especially with an as-tested price of $43,440. That being said, the Sorento with its third row, available captains chairs, and more handsome styling may just a better bet.

-Scott Villeneuve

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy 2.5T AWD$42,110
Carpeted Floor Mats$155
Destination Charges$1,185
As-Tested MSRP$43,440

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