Comfortable cabin and expansive cargo hold. Refreshed for 2021, the Santa Fe builds on the previous model’s 108.9-inch wheelbase and measures 188.4 inches long or barely a half-inch longer than its predecessor. We think the interior was better conceived than the exterior’s busy adornment. The dashboard sits lower than before and a larger 10.3-inch screen occupies the center area.

The seats are comfortable, front and back, and four 6-footers can sit with ease. The cargo volume is up slightly this year, measuring 36.4 cubic feet behind the second row or a whopping 72.1 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. That’s well above the Nissan Murano and slightly behind the Ford Edge, the segment’s two mainstays. And if you need more room for cargo, the Santa Fe is rated to pull 3,500 pounds when equipped with a trailering package.

Calligraphy trim represents luxury. Following on the heels of the flagship Palisade SUV, the Santa Fe also has a Calligraphy edition. This range-topping model pulls out all the stops for the Santa Fe, beginning with standard all-wheel drive.

From there, the Calligraphy features 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, Nappa leather seats, soft-touch padding gracing the interior, and ambient lighting. It’s as if the Genesis team was let loose to lift the Santa Fe into luxury territory.


Hyundai Santa Fe

A safety winner in our book. We haven’t received crash test scores from the NHTSA and IIHS yet, but we expect the 2021 Santa Fe will achieve its goals. Until then, we’ll reserve further comment.

What scores big with us and is something we can confirm is that the Santa Fe comes with a long list of standard driver-assist technology. All trims come with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam LED headlights.

Move up the trim range and front and rear parking sensors come in. On the top Limited and Calligraphy trims, a surround-view camera system and blind-spot monitor display in the gauge cluster round out the features. A head-up display is exclusive to the Calligraphy trim.

First Santa Fe Hybrids. Hyundai has made great strides in recent years with its Ioniq line of electrified vehicles: conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure electric. It was only a matter of time before these efforts spread to subsequent models. The Santa Fe will see two hybrids, but only one’s on tap for 2021, the conventional Santa Fe Hybrid.

What’s especially noteworthy about the Santa Fe Hybrid is that it is tuned for performance and efficiency, thanks to a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gas engine combined with two electric motors to deliver a combined 226 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission shuttles power to all four wheels.

Furthermore, the most efficient “Blue” version delivers an outstanding 36 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway for a combined 34 mpg. That’s 9 mpg better than the standard gas model. As for the plug-in hybrid, we’ll see this model roll out over the summer for the 2022 model year.

If you prefer a gas model, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque works with an 8-speed automatic transmission to send power to the front- or all four wheels. Also available is a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 277 horsepower and a remarkable 311 pound-feet of torque. Here, this engine teams with a quick-shifting dual-clutch 8-speed automatic transmission.

Final thoughts. The midsize two-row SUV segment continues to expand and we’re glad Hyundai didn’t add a cramped third-row seat. Instead, move up to the Palisade if you need more space. In short, the Santa Fe covers all the bases, ranging from value to efficiency, and from performance to luxury.

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