Skip to main content

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Gets A Wild New Face And Other Updates

Hyundai just released its newly redesigned, 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe. Hyundai teased the new Santa Fe a few weeks ago, but this is our first in-depth look.

I’ve recently tested the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited, and I quickly became fond of it. I loved how the whole vehicle was a sanctuary in terms of how quiet and comfortable it was. When Hyundai teased the new Santa Fe a few weeks back, I was very excited. Now, we can take our first in-depth look at the 2021 Santa Fe.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Exterior

First off, Hyundai claims this 2021 Santa Fe to be a “redesign” when in fact, this new Santa Fe looks more like a refresh. Whatever it is, the new updated Santa Fe certainly has a striking face. The enhanced grill is the most noticeable change from the previous generation model. I say this model is a refresh because the rear tail lights look very similar to the 2020 model Santa Fe and so do the over proportions. We also see the new model Santa Fe rocking some “T” shaped day time running lights.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Rear Three Quarter

Hyundai claims that the looks of the 2021 Santa Fe is “bold” and “majestic.” When Hyundai announced the teaser, it claimed to chase after a rugged yet refined look. When I heard this, I assumed Hyundai was going to tackle the new Toyota RAV4 as Toyota is the only company in the class, producing a genuinely rugged offering, especially with its TRD example. Looks are subjective, and I don’t care that the new Santa Fe isn’t supper rugged because that is irrelevant for shoppers of this class. I appreciate how Hyundai COMPLETELY eliminated the black plastic cladding that plagues the looks of many crossovers. Well done, Hyundai.

Removing the plastic cladding was phenomenal; the new Santa Fe almost has a concept car look because of it. The big 20” wheels certainly amplify these concept-like vibes, and I’m sure those wheels are optional or only come on the top trim level. Hyundai makes a very comfortable vehicle, but 20” does seem a bit excessive for a car of this class, and tires are undoubtedly expensive to replace for a 20” wheel. You have to admit; they do look good.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Side

We slightly mocked this class of vehicle for not being very “off-road” capable, but the new 2021 Santa Fe continues to use Hyundai’s excellent HTRAC All-Wheel Drive system. This new model incorporates new specific modes for the AWD system like sand, snow, and mud. Hyundai continues to offer eco, sport, comfort, and smart mode as well. That’s like seven modes, but consumers like to see that.

2021 Hyunda Santa Fe Interior

Interior enhancements have also taken place for the 2021 Santa Fe. Hyundai claims more space has been made in the interior of the 2021 Santa Fe and is just more refined than the previous Santa Fe. A new 10.25” screen makes an appearance, similar to what we saw in the 2020 Sonata Hybrid. The new Santa Fe took design cues from the Hyundai Palisade as an electronic gear selector got incorporated primarily to save space, just like the Palisade (and 2020 Sonata).

I loved the fit and finish of the 2020 Santa Fe, and I’m sure that will continue here. My only complaint was the lack of “nicer” materials, but I still forgave the 2020 Santa Fe because of its excellent price and solidity. For the new model, Hyundai has introduced some soft-touch elements all around the cabin. It is great to see Hyundai continuously improving.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Rear2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Conclusions

Not much detail got released in terms of specs, engines, etc. As much as I loved driving the 2020 Santa Fe for its comfort aspect, I did notice a lack of handling. The front end always wanted to rip the front tires off, and that sensation was a bit off-putting when driving hard. Again, I understand nobody buying a vehicle in this class will ever drive hard, so I again forgave the Hyundai. I would still like to see Hyundai improving handling characteristics nonetheless because I know Hyundai is capable of so much more. I did indeed drive the front-wheel-drive turbo model, and I’m sure the HTRAC AWD would have distributed power better. Driving the 2020 Santa Fe in every other condition was perfect, and highway stability was also excellent.

I’m very excited to drive the new 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe to see all the changes made. Once more specifications get released, I will make an updated post. In the meantime, let’s enjoy how Hyundai has eliminated plastic cladding around the new Santa Fe. I hope this trend continues for other Hyundai models as well.

Kevin Meyn is an automotive journalist for Torque News concentrating on Hyundai content. Kevin is the founder of Exhaust Sports Auto Youtube channel, where he does professional car reviews on new and used vehicles. Through the use of various resources and extended Automotive expertise, Kevin documents the latest in automotive news revolving around Hyundai. Kevin graduated from NC State University studying Supply Chain Management but has had a passion for cars since he was a child. Follow Kevin on Twitter and Instagram @exhaustsports.