Pros-Sporty looks. Upscale interior. Roomy. Smooth ride. _Fast. Good handling. All-wheel drive. Safety features.
Cons-Rather light steering. Occasional willowy ride. No third-row seat.
Bottom Line-A near-luxury, well-equipped, reasonably priced mid-size SUV.
The fast acceleration, upscale interior and smoothaa ride of the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
Calligraphy reminded me of a 1960s American luxury sedan. A coast-to-coast trip would probably leave a driver refreshed.
This mid-size SUV is the top-line 2021 Santa Fe, which comes in several versions, including a hybrid. I was happy to get the Calligraphy version, which has standard all-wheel drive, a premium finish front grille with an aggressive new wider design shared by all Santa Fe models, new rear bumper fascia and premium materials. There's even automatic up-down rear windows. It also has a fast-acting power sunroof that really "opens up" the interior.
The Santa Fe Calligraphy 2.5T with all-wheel-drive and 19-inch wheels lists at $43,100, which undercuts some major rivals, although my test car's $300 Quartz White paint, $155 carpeted floor mats and freight charge upped the bottom-line price to $43,730.
Powering this model is a new 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 277 horsepower and 311 pound/feet of torque. The 0-60 m.p.h. time is 6.2 seconds, which is pretty good for an approximately 4,000-pound SUV. The engine works with a responsive eight-speed automatic transmission. Handy console push buttons, instead of conventional gear selectors, take a driver from the Park to the Drive position.
A driver can choose these driving modes: Comfort, Sport, Smart and Snow. Comfort is best for typical driving. For one thing, it allows the Santa Fe to deliver a nicely controlled, soft although occasional willowy, ride, although the ride doesn't deteriorate much when the Santa Fe becomes firmer in Sport mode. The steering is quick, but also somewhat light in all modes. Handling is good, almost sporty, and the Santa Fe is easy to maneuver in tight spots. New power heated folding side mirrors with turn signal indicators help prevent parking lot damage. Brake pedal action is nearly ideal.
Estimated city fuel economy is about what's to be expected from a fast, rather heavy SUV-21 miles per gallon, but the highway figure is 28. Considering today's high premium gas prices, it's nice that only regular grade fuel is needed.
The Santa Fe easily seats up to five tall persons in power front and rear supportive seats. Unlike the larger Hyundai Palisade SUV, the Santa Fe has no third-row seat. But this is just as well because the Santa Fe is more nimble with, for instance, a shorter (108.9-inch) wheelbase and (188.4-inch) length.
There seems to be pickup-style cargo roominess when the rear seat backs are flipped down. The cargo area is good with the seat backs in an upright position, although the Santa Fe is rather tall and thus the load floor is somewhat high. The hands-free cargo hatch comes in handy when arms are loaded.
Getting or out through wide door openings calls for a little extra effort by occupants because the Santa Fe is 66.3 inches tall.
The new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display and new 10.25-inch touchscreen display are easy to use with a little practice. Small dashboard buttons for various functions are clearly marked.
_______The church-quiet interior of the Santa Fe Calligraphy 2.5T AWD is upscale. It's got premium Napa Leather seating surfaces and door trim, exclusive headliner, nice seat stitching, a new Harman Kardon premium audio system with a rear-seat quiet mode, full-color heads-up display, dual-automatic temperature control, heated and ventilated front seats, air conditioning rear air vents, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also a heated tilt/telescopic perforated leather steering wheel and rear seats and rear side-window sun shades. However, the rear driver-side sun shade obstructs over-the-shoulder driver visibility when raised.
Front and rear cupholders are handy, door pockets can handle lots of stuff and the front console covered storage bin is roomy.
This Hyundai's safety technology includes forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, new parking-collision-avoidance assist, blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, driver-attention warning, smart cruise control with stop and go, lane-following assist, new highway-drive assist, surround view and blind view monitors and new navigation-based Smart Cruise control with road curve control.
Hyundai keeps upping the game with the new Santa Fe Calligraphy 2.5T AWD.