Hyundai recently overhauled the Santa Fe for the 2019 model year, so its design is still pretty fresh to most buyers. This is the crossover world, though, so the Korean automaker is on a knife’s edge to keep its design up-to-date against its competition — most of which is either brand new or also underwent some revamps of their own. This 2021 Santa Fe is more of a facelift than a complete overhaul, but it’s pushing the brand in a more expressive direction, if one that’s more controversial than the Hyundai we used to know a few years ago.
To turn some more heads, the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe doubles down on the grille design, moving away from the “cascading grille” we knew in recent models to something a bit more in your face. This design integrates the dual-beam headlight assemblies into the upper fascia so it looks like one fluid design. One cue that’s not as fluid and stands out are the new LED daytime running lights. The upper part of the assembly is still split from the main beams, but Hyundai actually continued the design into the headlight assemblies, looking something like Volvo’s “Thor’s Hammer” running lights. The front clip actually separates the DRLs so they’re not one fluid piece though, so it definitely creates a distinctive look.
As is befitting of a revamp, the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe also has restyled taillamps. Instead of a chrome strip connecting the two clusters, now there’s actually a thin red light strip that stretches all the way across the rear tailgate, which is a design cue that’s becoming more fashionable across the industry.
Overall, the car’s proportions haven’t changed drastically — again, it’s still a fairly new design — but the exterior changes do make the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe stand out a bit more, if that’s your thing. Hyundai also pushed out the wheel arches to accommodate larger 20-inch wheels for a bit more presence.
A new hybrid model (at least for Europe)
Apart from the design, another headline change with the Santa Fe’s mid-cycle refresh is a new hybrid model. At least in the European release, the company said it would launch new hybrid and plug-in versions, as well as gasoline and diesel models. Now, we’re clearly not getting the diesel over here (sorry enthusiasts), but the hybrid option does seem feasible for our market. That said, Hyundai did not reveal any technical details for U.S.-spec Santa Fes just yet. We expect those will arrive in the coming weeks.
As for conventional gas engines, the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe will almost certainly carry on with at least the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, if not the naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter as well. However, we’ll have to wait and see if Hyundai makes any changes under the hood beyond bringing the hybrid to the U.S. market in the coming months.
On the tech front, the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe now accommodates 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment display thanks to a redesigned lower dashboard. A new Terrain Mode selector also makes an appearance, and it changes up the behavior of the all-wheel drive system for better performance in different driving conditions. Among the drive modes are the standard Eco, Comfort (normal), Sport and Smart modes, as well as new modes for sand, snow and mud.
The new 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe will hit showrooms by the end of this year. Pricing is not available, but we should know more on that in the coming weeks. While we’re waiting for the new Santa Fe and its terrain modes, check out our first dirt review of the newest model below: