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Previous Hyundai Santa Fe models haven’t impressed many reviewers thanks to the price and lackluster powertrain. But could some new upgrades to the 2021 model make this midsize crossover SUV worth it? The folks at MotorTrend recently tested the Hyundai Santa Fe’s highest trim level, the Calligraphy, and their thoughts are revealing.

The Hyundai Santa Fe’s 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter engines

For the 2020 model, the Hyundai Santa Fe offered a 2.4-liter four-cylinder as the base engine. As an optional feature, you could choose the 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which managed an acceleration time of 7.2 seconds in the 0-to-60 run. But for 2021, Hyundai replaced them with larger and better motors. 

Now the Santa Fe’s base engine is a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-four producing 191 hp. The optional engine is a 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four generating 277 hp. That’s about 42 hp more than the previous model’s 2.0-liter motor. 

Paired with the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine is an eight-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission. This combination allows the Santa Fe to clock a 6.2-second acceleration time to 60 mph. That split also beats the 2019 Ford Edge’s 7.6 seconds. 

How the Hyundai Santa Fe performs in other areas

One area MotorTrend looked at was the Hyundai Santa Fe’s transmission options. The 2.5-liter engine combines pairs with an eight-speed transmission, while the 2.5T motor marries a dual-clutch. 

The standard eight-speed provides smooth gear transitions. But the dual-clutch offers rough shifting while driving in the city and from stops, MT reports. 

However, the braking performance is solid. When MT’s testers applied the brakes from 60 mph, the Santa Fe fully came to a complete stop in 117 feet. That’s pretty good for an SUV of this size. The 2021 Santa Fe beats the Nissan Venza (121 to 122 feet), Outback XT (129 to 132), and Ford Edge (129). It didn’t beat the Kia Sorento (115 feet) but came pretty close. 

What else does it offer?

One of the most exciting new features is the hybrid powertrain for the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe. A 1.6-liter turbocharged engine works with an electric motor and a six-speed automatic transmission. 

Another impressive feature is the new trim level, the Calligraphy. This top-of-the-line trim comes with all-wheel drive and the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine.

It also boasts a refreshed interior. Soft-touch materials and plastics add luxurious touches. And stitching dons the steering wheel, doors, and dashboard. 

As far as pricing, the MSRP has gone up. The base-model SE starts at $28,025. The SE trim costs $29,825 to start, while the Limited jumps to $39,775. The opulent Calligraphy costs around $43,275.

Overall, is the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe worth the price bump? Because of its two new engines — a huge improvement over previous models — it should be in the running if you’re considering a midsize SUV.


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