2021 Hyundai Santa Fe (car review)

PEACE at last. That’s what to expect from the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe if you believe the latest television advert. And after living with the base spec version for a week, we tend to agree.

We honestly couldn’t find much to fault the latest entry level Santa Fe on, despite its place in a challenging market, filled with challengers throwing quality and quantity at consumers like there’s no tomorrow.

Basically, the Santa Fe is a straight up, no frills, excellent motor vehicle. We can’t say it
anymore simply than that. It does what it says on the tin, with no trickery, no falsities and it does it damn well.

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Let’s start with the engine, a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel producing 148kW and 440Nm. Weighing in at 1900kg and returning a combined fuel consumption of 6.1 litres/100km is no mean feat.

Combine that with all-wheel drive traction, and the Santa Fe also offers a 2500kg braked payload for towing. Power, efficiency and a decent payload? Check. All underpinned by a beautifully smooth and supremely capable 8-speed dual clutch transmission.

The Santa Fe is ready for whatever driving situation you are willing to throw at it. When choosing an SUV, obviously convenience and family friendliness are high on the priority
list. Once again, it’s another area that this vehicle excels.

Seating for up to 7 with a variety of split configurations make fitting in the kids and anything or anyone else a breeze. Boot space is a minimum of 571-litres, growing to 782-litres with the third row seats folded down.

Lay all the seats flat, and that turns into a whopping 1,649-litres. Clever features like dual USB charging ports for the second row occupants, a one touch button for third row entry and exit and air vents in both rows keep the kids cool, calm and collected.

Ultimately, they’re left to their own devices (no pun intended), and that’s a few more ways the Santa Fe will help you to achieve peace at last. Once you have achieved it, create your own noise with the Santa Fe’s excellent tech and infotainment features.

Starting with an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen which showcases an excellent
application of wireless charging and cordless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Our experience of both was flawless (despite reports elsewhere of dropouts).

While the speakers in the base model Santa Fe aren’t the upgraded Harman/Kardon variants as found in the higher spec models, they produce a decent quality of sound, with no fuss.

Steering wheel mounted controls also make navigating the infotainment and safety features easy and intuitive. You do miss out on satellite navigation as standard but with smartphone connectivity, you won’t even notice its omission.

The base model Santa Fe model scores almost all of the safety features the rest of the range are equipped with, including smart cruise control with stop and go, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance and lane keeping and lane following assist.

The only exclusions are limited to safe exit assist, front parking sensors and the electronic child lock safety system. It’s obvious Hyundai recognise that safety is paramount in their SUV range and you shouldn’t be penalised as a result of your model choice.

Externally the Santa Fe looks far from a base model thanks to its standard 17-inch alloy wheels and roof rails, smart looking two-tone bumpers and black grille. It features fang-like LED daytime running lights and has plenty of attitude.

Interior styling is slightly more demure and unashamedly reserved. A leather appointed steering wheel and gear knob mixed with simple yet elegant cloth seats, continue the no fuss but functional mindset.

Hardy and ready for whatever the family can throw at it, the Santa Fe isn’t afraid of a little hard work. The only thing we did wish for was climate control instead of manual air conditioning. Out of all its features, this would complete the package for us.

Priced from $52.715 drive away for the diesel variant, there are obviously quite a few competitors, including the likes of Mazda’s CX8 and CX9, the Kia Sorento S, and the Skoda Kodiaq.

The best endorsement we can give the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe is that this author would buy one for his own family, no question. It’s hard to explain the feeling you get when you find a vehicle that simply works in every way, but this SUV delivers that.

Driving the Santa Fe was never a chore. We formed a bit of a bond over the week that we spent together, this car and I. So much so, that it was hard to let go when I handed the
keys back to Hyundai.

And even if it can’t keep the kids quiet in the back, you will find peace in knowing you have purchased a brilliant car for you and your family.

Our test vehicle was provided by Hyundai Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe, contact your local Hyundai dealer.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness
Value for money


Pros - power, efficiency and convenience; wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is life changing.
Cons - ‘base model’ mentality; manual air-conditioning.
Josh Muggleton
Josh Muggleton
Josh Muggleton has a love of cars that began at a young age and has been a part of his life ever since. So much so that his passion for all things automotive turned into a life as a racing car driver and driving instructor.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> power, efficiency and convenience; wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is life changing.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> ‘base model’ mentality; manual air-conditioning.2021 Hyundai Santa Fe (car review)