- the hyundai santa fe gets design and powertrain updates for 2021.
- the new base engine and optional turbo-four are more powerful than before, and a hybrid joins the lineup.
- the conventional gas santa fe models will go on sale by the end of the year, with the hybrid arriving early next year.
hyundai showed off the 2021 santa fe’s new face earlier this year, but it turns out that the updates go deeper under the surface. the mid-size suv also gets two new gasoline engines, new features, and adds a hybrid variant. the gas versions will arrive first, by the end of this year, while the hybrid is coming early in 2021 and will eventually be followed by a plug-in-hybrid santa fe as well.
the new base engine is a 2.5-liter inline-four with 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque, improvements of 6 hp and 3 lb-ft over the old 2.4-liter engine. it uses an eight-speed automatic and comes standard with front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive optional. hyundai says the new engine will provide up to 26 mpg combined, a 1 mpg bump.
the optional turbo engine is an even more significant upgrade, with the new turbo 2.5-liter inline-four providing significantly more power than the old 2.0t—277 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, to be specific, increases of 42 hp and 51 lb-ft. despite the extra grunt, this engine is also said to offer a fuel-economy increase, with up to 25 mpg combined. the transmission is an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, and the 2.5t also comes with standard front-wheel drive and optional all-wheel drive.
the new santa fe hybrid pairs a 178-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four with a six-speed automatic and a 59-hp electric motor. total output stands at 225 hp, bisecting the gas engine options. hyundai isn’t talking efficiency numbers yet, but we expect its combined epa estimate to fall somewhere in the mid-30-mpg range. a plug-in hybrid is a bit further down the road and should have a larger battery pack to enable some amount of all-electric driving range.
trim levels and design
sitting at the top of the lineup is a new calligraphy trim level, a name that's shared with the three-row palisade's top model. it comes standard with the turbo engine and all-wheel drive, and features special leather upholstery, 20-inch wheels, a different grille, and a few other trim differences.
all 2021 santa fe models get the updated look, with the reshaped grille and different headlights and taillights. the wheel designs are also new across the board, and hyundai says it has improved interior materials. the updated center console features a floating design, a pushbutton shifter, and the standard an optional touchscreens grow larger, from 7.0 to 8.0 inches and from 8.0 inches to 10.3 inches. there's also an extra 0.5 cubic foot of cargo space.
newly optional features include wireless charging, a remote parking system, upgraded driver-assistance systems, and a digital key system that allows you to use your smartphone as the key.
hyundai won't release pricing until closer to the 2021 santa fe's on-sale date later this year, but we don't think it will stray too far from the current model's base price of $27,450. the loaded santa fe calligraphy will likely start well above $40,000.