2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe - The revised 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy 2.5T AWD scores on most fronts


Price: $43,100

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.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

For more reviews from Dan, visit Facebook.