The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Can Now Cost as Much as a BMW X3

The Hyundai Santa Fe has made a name for itself in recent years as an affordable crossover with plenty of standard features. For the 2021 model, the Santa Fe brings major improvements by offering a sharper look, more safety tech, and a luxurious interior. However, major improvements aren’t cheap. According to CarBuzz, a fully-loaded Santa Fe now costs as much as a base-model BMW X3.

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe starts at $26,850

A black 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe driving on a highway road
The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe in action | Photo via Hyundai

For the Hyundai Santa Fe to establish itself as a formidable crossover in the U.S. market, it had to offer tremendous value. The goal was to undercut established rivals from Toyota and Hyundai. However, as brand recognition grows, so does the price. For 2021, the Santa Fe gets a price bump of $575 to its new base price of $26,850. While that seems like a marginal increase, the big price bump lives in the trim levels. While the previous range-topping Santa Fe was the Limited 2.0T and its $37,875 base price, there’s now a more luxurious alternative.

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe’s most expensive trim level is the Calligraphy with 20-inch wheels for $42,300. For almost double the base model’s MSRP, you get luxury extras such as quilted Nappa leather, ambient lighting, and a heads-up display, to name a few. Additionally, buyers also get the more powerful 277-hp turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine equipped with an all-wheel-drive system. Add on the 20-inch wheels to the updated Palisade-like exterior, and you get a crossover that looks more luxurious than economical.

What do you get in the base BMW X3?

A blue 2021 BMW X3 at sunset.
2021 BMW X3 | BMW

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If you end up cross-shopping the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe and the 2021 BMW X3, you’re looking at a base model. The base-model X3 trim is the sDrive30i, and it starts at $43,000 with rear-wheel drive and $45,000 with all-wheel drive. Like the Hyundai, the BMW has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood. However, the X3 manages to produce 248 hp, 29 hp less than the Hyundai. While Hyundai estimates that the Santa Fe Calligraphy consumes an average of 24 mpg, the BMW is capable of consuming 27 mpg.

In terms of dimensions, the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy and the BMW X3 are extremely similar. Although the BMW’s wheelbase is four inches longer, its overall length is 2.5 inches shorter than the Hyundai. The Hyundai has the BMW beat by offering 36.4 cubic-feat instead of just 28.7 cubic feet in terms of cargo capacity.

The biggest differentiator, however, comes when we take a look at the options list. While the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy is a fully loaded crossover, the BMW X3 is fairly barebones. This is because BMW’s best features are offered as optional extras. For starters, the BMW doesn’t offer leather in the base trim level, just vinyl rebranded as SensaTec. Additionally, you’ll have to pay extra if you want options such as larger wheels, keyless entry, lumbar support, heads-up display, and major driver assistance features. The result is that an equally-equipped X3 could easily cost over $10,000 more than the Hyundai.

Is the badge worth the extra cash?

Given the significant trim-level differences between the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe and the 2021 BMW X3, the Santa Fe is the one to buy at the $43,000 price point. The included extras of the Calligraphy create a significantly higher quality vehicle than a base model X3. However, at the higher price points, the X3 begins to take the lead with more outstanding visual options such as the M Sport pack. Additionally, there’s even a plug-in hybrid variant for maximum efficiency. However, the fact that the Santa Fe is even comparable to established luxury favorites such as the X3 is already plenty impressive.