Face Time: 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Drops the Towel

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

It seems potentially controversial front end treatments are today’s theme. After teasing its upcoming Santa Fe last week, Hyundai let it all out on Tuesday, debuting a wildly different fascia with which to temp buyers on the hunt for an “ultimate family adventure vehicle.”

If you’re not up on your corporate marketing-speak, that’s how Hyundai refers to its popular midsize crossover. Despite bowing in fourth-generation form in mid-2018, the Santa Fe rolls into 2021 with a new platform in tow, begging to be noticed — not that it already wasn’t.

Indeed, that 2019MY revamp sent Santa Fe sales soaring, earning smiles among company brass eager to see its crossover surge pay off. With this new, strategically reworked Santa Fe, buyers might be confronted with something that turns them off; however, that’s a danger that comes with any attempt at facial improvement. The past half-decade, it should be noted, was not kind to refreshed Hyundais (*cough* previous-gen Sonata and Elantra *cough*).

Stretching the full width of the vehicle’s face, the new grills is big and comes filled with geometric shapes that reflect the light in a visually striking way. And clearly the 2020 Sonata is no longer alone in the adventurous external lighting club. The Santa Fe now sports a pair of T-shaped daytime running lights that either resemble a snake’s eyes or its fangs… or both. Below it all is a fairly conventionally shaped lower air opening.

As before, a strong crease connects headlamps to tail lamps, and the wheel arches grow in size.

Out back, the Santa Fe grows new taillights that, like the grille, span the with of the vehicle via an LED light bar. I guess it’s another heckblende for Corey to gush over. Hyundai insists the “majestic” new Santa Fe is more than just a refresh, though specs on this new, “roomier” Santa Fe remain a mystery. Within the wheel wells you’ll find standard 20-inch hoops, though — something this writer takes issue with, given the terrible state of much of the continent’s pavement.

Significant changes occur inside, too, as the ’21 Santa Fe loses its traditional shift knob. In its place is a push-button array, joined by quick access to other oft-used functions. The console also rises in height, “giving the driver and front passenger the feeling of sitting in an armchair,” Hyundai claims. Elsewhere, soft-touch materials abound. Hyundai calls the cabin “classy,” which amuses this writer. More automakers should use this swaggering, mustachioed term.

Should you go for an all-wheel drive model, a new terrain mode selector arrives to bolster the vehicle’s off-road cred. Sand, snow, and mud modes are included, as are eco, sport, comfort, and smart modes.

The Santa Fe’s dash seems to ape that of its big brother, the Palisade. There, you’ll find an available 10.25-inch touchscreen.

As Hyundai didn’t make any mention of additional power, it’s assumed that the previous model’s 2.4- and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinders carry over for 2021. When it goes on sale (likely) later this year, buyers of the Santa Fe will be greeted by new paint choices and interior color combinations.

[Images: Hyundai]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Goatshadow Goatshadow on Jun 04, 2020

    What an unfortunate looking car.

  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Jun 08, 2020

    Cheese grater front end. Std 20" rubber Push button shift system Answers to questions nobody was asking! Instead they should have put some of this money into upgrading to the new 2.5 engine from the Sonata with a higher torque rating and some type of improvement to the not very powerful 235 Hp 2.0T and the way the 8 speed downshifts and hesitates with this engine. A revised grille and the current headlights would have sufficed for a visual upgrade!

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