The Hyundai Santa Fe has been around since the 2001 model year. As time went on, the SUV became so popular that Hyundai struggled to keep up with demand. After a few generations later, Hyundai now offers a top-tier luxury-laden model, the Calligraphy configuration.
MotorTrend took on the newest model and put it through their testing. What they found out is that it offers some pretty impressive features, that can rival some high-end luxury cars. Plus, it can be had for an affordable price.
Is the Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy a good SUV?
Powering up the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy is a 2.5T Inline-four cylinder motor that generates 277 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque, which replaces the old 2.0T that produced 235 hp. Combined with it is an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
MotorTrend tested it out and managed to get a 6.2-second acceleration time on a 0 to 60 mph run, which is 1.6 seconds faster than the old 2.0T they tested a couple of years ago.
For the exterior, you’ll find 19-inch wheels (20-inch wheels are also available), a dark chrome grille, along with classic styling. On the inside, you’ll find a suede-like material covering the lining of the roof. There’s also Nappa leather seating, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a head-up display. The starting price for this model is a little over $42,000.
How does the Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy compare to the other trim levels?
The Hyundai Santa Fe models, minus the Calligraphy trim, run on a 2.5-liter Inline-four cylinder engine that produces 191 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque. Paired with this motor is an eight-speed automatic transmission.
While the Calligraphy’s 2.5T engine has more pep in its step, it’s not necessarily better than the other models with the regular 2.5-liter motor. The issue, according to MotorTrend, is not the engine itself, but the transmission, which is a dual-clutch transmission.
While it’s supposed to greatly reduce various concerns when driving, MotorTrend’s staff felt it didn’t perform well. It shifted roughly from a stop and overall wasn’t as smooth as it could be.
In the end, this publication’s editors recommended passing on the 2.5T engine if you’re not so much into the luxury features. In fact, Hyundai admitted that a good portion of its buyers sticks with the 191 hp version. Still, if you want your luxury in a Santa Fe model, the Calligraphy offers plenty of value.
How does it compare to its rivals?
When it comes to acceleration, the Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy’s 2.5T engine clocked a 1.4-second time quicker than the 2019 Ford Edge they tested previously. It also beat out the all-wheel-drive version of the Toyota Venza, which only got around 7.1-7.5 seconds.
The Sorento came very close to the Calligraphy model’s time but lost by 0.1 seconds. The Subaru Outback model in the turbocharged XT mode, however, surpassed the Calligraphy trim’s time, albeit barely, with a 5.9-6.1-second time.
Braking distances for this Santa Fe trim also raised some eyebrows. With a 60 to 0 mph test, the Calligraphy model managed to stop in 117 feet. That’s 12 feet better than Ford Edge’s FWD. The Toyota Venza managed 121-122 feet, and the Subaru Outback XT form stopped in 129-132 feet. The Sorento is the only one that came close, and it even did a tiny bit better with 115 feet.
Design features make it competitive as well because much of what you see in the Santa Fe Calligraphy resembles what you find with the Palisade.
Upgrading to a luxurious Santa Fe model will bring you lots of exquisite touches that will compete with the likes of BMWs and other high-end luxury vehicles. Value is on Hyundai’s side, however, because you can get it at an affordable price.