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The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe was supposed to bring an affordable, fuel-efficient SUV to an already saturated market. In many ways, it succeeded, boasting stellar reviews from several top automotive publications. However, a recent glitch in its airbag system may have put a damper on an otherwise smooth rollout. 

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe at a glance

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe is one of the most eclectic models on the market. Trying to appease more budget-conscious buyers who can’t afford luxury while allowing the deep-pocketed a breadth of better features, Hyundai made its premier SUV the perfect car to reach its broadest audience. It’s hard to find much fault with the design. 

According to Car and Driver, the $27,000-plus Santa Fe packs a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine with optional front-wheel and all-wheel drive and an optional hybrid powertrain. In doing so, however, it succeeds where many other models fail. Many people can’t afford a hybrid in a market where it’s quickly becoming the norm, and with the Santa Fe appeasing both sides, it automatically has a way to appease all sides of this debacle. 

With a striking exterior and a small but spacious interior, this size-conscious midsize SUV delivers where it counts. It boasts 277 hp at 5,800 rpm and 311 lb-ft torque at 1,700 rpm. And with a 19-gallon gas tank and better-than-average fuel economy, this car has excited gearheads and casual buyers alike. 

However, despite the Hyundai Santa Fe’s accolades, a recall has briefly cooled an otherwise hot release. Luckily, the automaker appears to have caught the bug early and acted before it got too serious. 

The Hyundai Santa Fe’s recent recall

Earlier this year, Hyundai received reports that its lauded airbag system came with a significant flaw. According to a press release published by USA Today, the recall concerns what occurs when a child car seat is placed on the passenger side. 

“Hyundai Motor America (Hyundai) is recalling certain 2021 Santa Fe vehicles. The Occupant Detection System (ODS) module may not deactivate the air bag upon detection of a child restraint system in the front passenger seat. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 208, ‘Occupant Crash Protection.'”

Hyundai press release

According to, the recall affects only 10 models. Santa Fe owners can call 855-371-9460 to see if their SUV is affected. 

Playing it safe

Airbags are meant to save lives, but they can also endanger smaller riders, including children. That’s why airbags shouldn’t deploy near seats where the vehicle’s system detects anything under a certain weight. Though Hyundai conducted thorough testing, this glitch went undetected before the new model debuted.

The recall officially began on May 14. Hyundai urges owners to take their affected Santa Fe SUVs to an authorized dealer to fix the potentially deadly problem. Still, early on in its lifespan, the 2021 Santa Fe’s long-term problems may be unknown. But by catching this issue early, the automaker has potentially saved lives. 

Recalls can vary in severity, from annoying hiccups to dangerous problems. Although the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe airbag recall is serious, the problem appears to be isolated to only a handful of vehicles. Still, if you ever doubt your car’s safety, always contact the dealer or manufacturer to ensure you won’t regret your purchase later.


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