2021 Hyundai Santa Fe: Expectations and everything we know so far

Updated Jun 07, 2021

User's: 4.0/5
Get to know the 2021 Santa Fe better before it arrives.

In this review...

  1. Overview
  2. Exterior
  3. Interior
  4. Engine
  5. Safety features
  6. Verdict

1. 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Philippines: What we know, and what to expect

In just two years in the market, Hyundai finally released the facelifted version of the fourth-generation Santa Fe. It isn’t just the usual facelift though because this SUV is actually riding on a new platform. Apart from that, there are several characteristics that are new to the model.

The new 2021 Santa Fe however, has not yet reached the Philippines shores. As such, here’s what we know so far about this model and our expectations for a Philippine-spec model.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe | First Look

2. 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Exterior: Looks like a medium-sized Palisade

Starting with the exterior, the new Santa Fe looks more like the Hyundai Palisade’s younger brother. As a whole, the front fascia is divided into three major parts.

There’s the lower bumper with a wide air vent, the larger grille, which in turn is flanked by T-shaped LED daytime running lights. This appears to mirror how the Palisade’s front end is arranged.

A picture of the front of the 2021 Hyundai Kona.

If the Kona is the cyber shark, then the 2021 Santa Fe is the cyber lizard. Very cool!

Moving on towards the rear, a new LED light strip now links together its two taillight clusters. Not only is it stylish, but we’re confident that this new fixture will make the 2021 Santa Fe more visible.

The rear lower bumper also gets a reflector, a skid plate, as well as a sporty looking diffuser. Towards the sides, there aren’t any changes at all save for the availability of a new set of 20-inch wheels.

A picture of the side of the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

From the side, not much has changed expectations for the new wheels

Overall, the new Hyundai Santa Fe looks more aggressive than its previous version. This is especially true when viewed from the front, where it looks like a predatory creature in the midst of opening its maw.

3. 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Interior: Bigger screens and more streamlined

The most drastic changes to the new Santa Fe however, can be found within its cavernous interior. For starters, the dashboard was redesigned to look more like the Palisade’s. This was done to fit in the new 12.3-inch digital display cluster, as well as the new 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

There’s also a smaller 8-inch unit for the base-variant. All variants of the new 2021 Santa Fe however will come with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Both head units also come standard with voice-guided navigation, preloaded maps, wireless charging. A 12-speaker audio system will also come as an option in some markets.

A picture of the interior of the 2021 Santa Fe.

The 2021 Santa Fe's interior. Check out how that center console "flows" down from the dash

Another noticeable change to the 2021 Santa Fe’s interior is that Hyundai ditched the gear shift level in favor of a push-button interface for the transmission. While some might not like that, it offers a sleeker and cleaner looking center console.

The Korean carmaker also added a useful terrain-select and drive mode-select dial. On top of all that, the new Santa Fe’s interior is definitely more premium looking as most plastic surfaces are now clad in soft, high-quality leather.

Like its predecessor though, the new Santa Fe will still offer 1,016 liters of trunk capacity. It will also provide up to 1,038 mm of maximum legroom for the third row, a heads-up display, ventilated front seats, and leather for all five seats.

>>> Related: Dressed-up Hyundai Santa Fe looks snazzy with a cheese grater grille

4. 2021 Santa Fe Philippines: Engine options

It has been confirmed that the facelifted Santa Fe is getting three new powertrains. First up is a 2.2-liter inline-4 turbo-diesel engine, which belongs to Hyundai’s “Smartstream” diesel line-up. That means it makes use of a lighter aluminum block. In fact, it is 38 kilograms lighter than the old iron-block engine.

Coupled with a new high-pressure fuel injection system, Hyundai developed a powerful yet clean diesel engine. The said diesel engine can produce up to 199 horsepower and 440 Nm of torque.

That’s 17 Nm more than the current Philippine-spec version’s 2.2-liter R II CRDi. There are also reports that the new Santa Fe is getting a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

A picture of the Hyundai Santa Fe's hybrid powertrain.

We might get the hybrid version, but there's a slim chance that it'll be the plug-in version

The other two powertrains are hybrids which will both use a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4. The lesser power of the two Santa Fe hybrids combine the said engine with a 44.2kW motor. In total, it can churn out up to 226 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque.

The second plug-in version of the Santa Fe hybrid is beefier. It makes use of a 66.9 kW motor, which combined with the 1.6-liter four-banger can churn out up to 261 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque. Both of these hybrids send power to the wheels via a six-speed automatic. The plug-in version will only be available with an all-wheel-drive (AWD) layout. Although, we’re certain that there’s also an AWD version for the Santa Fe’s diesel variant.

Note however that the more powerful plug-in variant will be released later in 2021. Also, some markets might use the old 185 horsepower 2.4-liter inline-4 gasoline engine, or the 235-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo found on the pre-facelift Santa Fe.

5. 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe: It has a lot of active safety features

Hyundai sure didn’t scrimp when it comes to the 2021 Santa Fe’s safety features. With regards to active safety devices alone, it comes with forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot collision-avoidance assist.

For the future Philippine-spec 2021 Santa Fe, we can expect the same amount of passive safety, and a bit less on driver-assist features.

6. 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe: Temper your expectations.

We’re keeping our expectations tempered with regards to the facelifted version. Why? Well, for starters, there are a lot of 2020 Santa Fe safety features we didn’t get locally. We didn’t even get the other Santa Fe engine options, and we’re stuck with the front-wheel-drive only variants.

In other markets like the U.S. and South Korea, they not only have an AWD Santa Fe, but they also got blind-spot detection and many other features. Make no mistake though, the 2020 Santa Fe is a great car. On top of that, adding all of these new features and new powertrains/drivetrains might only drive up the 2021 Santa Fe’s prices.

A picture of the rear of the 2021 Santa Fe

That new LED strip will make the Santa Fe more visible to other drivers.

>>> Related: Hyundai Santa Fe for sale at affordable prices on Philkotse

There is however a huge caveat to this that Hyundai should consider. The local midsize SUV market has become so competitive and saturated with well-equipped models like the Honda CR-V, and the Mazda CX-8. There’s also the high-tech Chinese crossover offerings swarming the automotive market today to consider. So to remain competitive, the Korean brand must find a way to balance the features and the pricing of the 2021 Santa Fe.

To sum it up, there’s a chance that we’ll be getting the same 2.2-liter engine that the current Santa Fe uses. Although we’re wishing that Hyundai PH gets to bring in the non-plug-in hybrid version, as well as an AWD version.

For more car news, reviews, and tips, keep reading here on Philkotse.com.

Cesar G.B. Miguel

Cesar G.B. Miguel


Cesar Guiderone B. Miguel was born and raised in Iligan City, Lanao Del Norte. He graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in English degree from Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology. He previously worked as a freelance writer for various websites, as a member of the Iligan City Disaster Risk Reduction Management's training staff, and as a medical sales representative.

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