Hyundai Santa Fe — A noteworthy refreshening

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(August 8, 2021) Hyundai has a solid slate of crossover SUVs for most family's needs from the sub-compact Venue and Kona to the compact Tucson to the small mid-sized Santa Fe to the mid-sized three-row Palisade. It's a fresh lineup — the Tucson is all-new for 2022, the Kona has been significantly refreshed, the Palisade was introduced in 2020 as an all-new SUV — and the Santa Fe gets a big dose of freshening for 2022.


The Santa Fe, which was all-new for the 2019 model year, is a stylish and practical crossover that offers a roomy two-row cabin, an ample selection of features, decent performance and gas mileage from three engine choices, and very competitive pricing. And all Hyundai vehicles come with one of the most generous warranties in the industry.

The Santa Fe has undergone exterior styling upgrades getting a bold, new face highlighted by a wider, three-dimensional grille and a T-shaped lighting package that includes daytime running lights. The silhouette sports a horizontal cabin profile, scalloped lower door panels and a long, highly defined hood, with character lines extending from front to rear.

The interior has also been reworked featuring a high-position console design adding a more spacious feel throughout the cabin. Hyundai has done a good job putting soft-touch padding in strategic places wherever an arm touches. The infotainment screen has grown from 8 inches to 10.25 inches.

The Santa Fe’s overall proportions are slightly more SUV-like than in the previous generation, with a longer hood, a more upright windshield, and a trimmer front overhang. The Santa Fe has a slightly wider stance than its predecessor and at 187.8 inches is longer by 2.8 inches, giving it a bolder, more aggressive profile.

The 2022 Santa Fe now offers three powertrain options. The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, replaces the former 2.4-liter engine. The naturally aspired engine produces 191 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 181 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. That's six more hp and three more pound-feet than the 2.4-liter engine it replaces.

The optional engine gets an even more significant upgrade. A new turbocharged 2.5-liter four makes 277 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque, an increase of 42 hp and 51 pound-feet over the outgoing 2.0-liter turbo.  It's mated to an eight-speed automatic and has been clocked at 6.0 seconds from 0-to-60 with a quarter mile time of 14.5 seconds at 99 mph.

The third powertrain comes in Santa Fe's all-new-for-2021 hybrid pairing a 178-horsepower 1.6-liter four cylinder engine with a 59-horsepower electric motor for a total output of 225 horsepower mated to a six-speed automatic. Although trailing some of its segment competitors, the hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 34 mpg in combined driving. With rising gas prices the excellent mileage is a good reason for investing in the hybrid.

For this review we drove the standard 191-horsepower engine and found it adequate for all driving eventualities. The engine worked quite well in around-town driving, but at highway speeds it seemed a bit slower than we like getting up to speed. That being said, it handled the chores of passing and merging in adequate fashion. We estimated 0-to-60 time at between 8.5 and 9.0 seconds. If you want more performance, opt for the new horsepower-infused engine. But be reminded that it comes at a greater price.

With the extra length, front legroom is expanded from the last generation to 44.1 inches from 39.6 and second-row legroom to 40.9 from 39.1. Overall passenger compartment volume is 110.7 cubic feet compared to 108.0 in the 2018 Santa Fe, though cargo capacity remains the same — 35.4 cubic feet behind the second row, 71.5 with the second-row seats folded.

The Santa Fe comes in four trim levels — base SE, SEL, Limited, and new-for-2021 Calligraphy — starting at $28,615.  The SE and SEL feature the standard engine and the Limited and range-topping Calligraphy ($44,430) get the bigger powerplant. The hybrid version comes in Blue, SEL Premium and Limited trims starting at $34,835.

In addition to a generous amount of standard equipment across the board, the Santa Fe has been endowed with a remarkable amount of standard safety including forward collision mitigation, a lane keeping assist system, trailer sway damping, and adaptive cruise control. While we think blindspot warning with cross-traffic alert should have been included in the base model, it comes as standard equipment on all other trim levels.

We think the best buy for the money is the mid-range SEL. Its $30,000 price tag puts it in reach of a broad range of buyers, but it still offers plenty of features that the modern family will find desirable, such as heated front seats, blind-spot monitoring, heated exterior mirrors, SiriusXM satellite radio, and passive keyless entry with push-button start.

In AWD configuration, the SEL carries a bottom line of $31,525 including $1,175 destination charge. Our well-equipped test car with no need of options except for $155 floor mats had a bottom line of $31,680.

And the generous warranties we mentioned above have for years been a big selling point. They include a five-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty. Free maintenance is provided for three years/36,000 miles.

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe


Base price: $28,615; as driven, $31,680
Engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 191 @ 6,100 rpm
Torque: 181 pound-feet @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 108.9 inches
Length: 188.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,960 pounds
Turning circle: 37.4 feet
Luggage capacity: 36.4 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 72.1 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 2,000 pounds
Fuel capacity: 18.8 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 22 city, 25 highway, 24 combined
Also consider: Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4

The Good
• Outstanding warranties
• Roomy interior
• Abundant safety features

The Bad
• Mediocre fuel economy

The Ugly
• Turbocharged engine reserved for top trims