2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited AWD Review By John and Laurie Wiles

Listen to John and Laurie Wiles’ review of the 2021 on their Driving Me Crazy radio broadcast that airs this Thursday, February 11, 2021, at 10am EST and every Thursday throughout the year at the same time. The broadcast is heard “Live” or “On Demand” by clicking onto this specific hyperlink — http://tobtr.com/s/11951551. Please note that the hyperlink is specific to this review. It changes every week. Listeners are welcome to call the broadcast at 347-205-9201 and are asked to stay on topic.

Driving Me Crazy automotive review Columnists Laurie and John Wiles.

PINEHURST, NC — June 23, 2021 — We had the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD “Hybrid” this week, and in three words, “I like it.” This labeled a ‘compact SUV’, but I found it plenty big enough for all the things we would normally do. You don’t hear me say that about ‘hybrids’ often, but as with most technology, and especially Hyundai, they seem to really be improving the battery part of the equation. Notable to me right off was the 10-year, 100,000-mile Hybrid Battery Warranty. That’s a pretty secure belief in your product, I think.

The 2021 Santa Fe has a little of that Palisade look and styling too, both of which I have always liked. Big grill, bold lighting, and built to go a lot of places in many situations with the AWD of the Limited, the top of the line of Santa Fe’s three models – the Blue, the SEL Premium, and the Limited. Interestingly enough, I went to the post office here locally the other day, and when I came out, lost in thought and glancing at the mail we had received, I almost tried to get in a Palisade parked right next to our Santa Fe. Luckily I looked up and thought “I don’t think our Lagoon Blue Hyundai is this gray color.” I took a quick look to my right and got in the Santa Fe, trying not to acknowledge my faux pas. When you consider these are all Hybrids, with great battery and great everything else warranties, the Blue, starting at $33,650, the SEL Premium at $37,600, and the Limited at $39,950, fully loaded, all look like good values to me.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited AWD

I really enjoyed the interior of the Santa Fe as well. No gear shift, just four simple buttons – Park, Drive, Reverse and Neutral. Doesn’t get much simpler than that. Drive mode is controlled by the know just to right of the driving buttons. Radio and climate controls are just above that and within easy reach. Next to the cup holder is a rectangular deep pocket where you slide you cell phone for charging. Hooking the cell phone up to the Santa Fe was easy, and hands free talking when necessary is a must in today’s traffic situations. Cruise control and volume controls were on the steering wheel. The heated steering wheel, plus heated and ventilated seats, AM/FM and Sirius XM were all included in the just under $40K price. I like the ventilated, leather trimmed front seats this time of year. Without a garage these days, our vehicle sits in the sun, and car interiors get warm in the summer sun. Hitting the ‘Auto’ air conditioning button and turning the ventilated seats on High is a nice way to start your drive.

The 10.25” Navigation system makes for a big, easy display, and programming destinations is a cinch by either typing in your destination or speaking it using the voice recognition system. When I think of the cars I drove in the 1960’s and what we drive today, it really is a Dick Tracey comic strip series come to life. I told my students 15 years ago that they would see cars that drive themselves in their lifetime, and while we have that technology available is some areas, and on some models, when I get into 2021 cars/SUVs/trucks, I believe we are closer than ever for that to become the norm. Wow!

Contributing to that belief are the Advanced Safety Technology on vehicles these days. Hyundai, always know for safety, has, as standard, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Safe Exit Assist, Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist, High Beam Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collison Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Smart Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Ultrasonic Rear Occupant Alert, Rear View Monitor, Lane Following Assist, and Highway Drive Assist. Highway Drive Assist (HDA) enhances the Smart Cruise Control system by helping to keep your vehicle centered in your lane while using GPS data to know if you are on a controlled access highway such as an interstate. This system can be set to keep your vehicle at the highway speed limit. Closer and closer to self-driving.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited AWD front seats gallery view

Want that open space feeling?  You will love the Panoramic Sunroof. Oh, with ski rails for the adventure lovers who are headed to the mountains for snow and appreciate the AWD of the Hyundai Santa Fe. And you have lots of time driving in the sun with a 17.7-gallon fuel tank and their published mpg of 33/30 with a 32-mpg average. That’s 566.4 miles for those of you who want to know. By the way, we got 35-mpg just driving around town here in Pinehurst, so I think overall mileage could be better than advertised. “Under promise, over deliver.”

Let’s talk Hybrid a moment. This is what Hyundai calls Powertrain Technology. They have married a Smartstream 1.6L Turbocharged GDI (gasoline direct injection) 4-cylinder 178 HP engine with a Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor. A 6 speed Automatic Transmission with Shiftronic and, for the adventurous, paddle shifters, is smooth and quiet. I have to say too, that there has to be some knowledge swapping among manufacturers. The Tesla is known for acceleration and 0-60 rocket effect. There was virtually ‘no hesitation’ with the Hyundai Santa Fe either. Gas pedal? Immediate response, and whether it was the electric motor or the gasoline engine, the smoothness and response were excellent.

Hidden under other heading were some things I think are important from a safety standpoint as well. Things like LED Daytime Running Lights, Automatic LED Headlights, Rain-Sensing Variable Intermittent Windshield Wipers, Parking Distance Warning (I like this), Remote Smart Park Assist, Surround View Monitor, and Blind Spot Monitor. Again, anything that keeps you our of even a small ‘fender bender’ is good technology.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited AWD panoramic view and seating arrangement and seats arrangement.

I owned a Santa Fe quite a few years ago and put lots of miles on it. Around 110K miles, it became wiser to trade it in for something that didn’t need quite so much serious maintenance/repair. For the years I had it, it was great. While I can’t speak to the longevity of the new Hyundai Santa Fe, the 10 year, 100,000 miles warranties on everything really major, 3 year/36,000-mile complimentary maintenance says a lot about their belief that their vehicles will get you at least 100 thousand miles. Who knows? By the time those warranties are up, cars may be driving themselves. We will see.

Laurie, here.  I want to add my two-cents to my wonderful husband’s review.  First of all, as those of you who have been following DRIVING ME CRAZY—yes, still crazy after all these years—we don’t have to tell you that of all the cars we’ve driven, Hyundai consistently offers more “bang for the buck” than almost any other manufacturer.  This holds true for the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited AWD.  The moment you put your hand on the door handle and slide inside the car, you feel…well, at home.  Everything is in its place.  Even the well-thought-out storage “pockets” in the center console and doors are placed exactly where you’d expect them to be, for your cellphone, an extra bottle of water, even a book or your knitting (yes, I knit but only when I’m a passenger.  Never when I drive.)

That virtually all safety features are standard means a great deal.  I have never understood manufacturers who make gorgeous cars (as our dear friend John “Bugsy” Lawlor always says, “There’s no such thing as a bad car being made anymore,”) and yet offer important safety equipment at an additional cost.  There should never be a car made in this day and age when  safety is an “option” and valued separately to keep a MSRP price point down.  You can’t put a value on safety just like it’s wrong, in my humble opinion, to advertise a car at a certain MSRP and then build in 20-, 30-percent, even more, on top of that additionally for safety features that could, and do, save lives.  Okay, I’ll step down from my soapbox now…

Suffice it to say, the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited AWD is a wonderful SUV and as a rejoinder to Johnny’s saying “I like it,” let me say, “I love it!”

Oh, and before I close, this is a note for Hezi.  Hezi, old buddy old pal.  When we say each of the models is fully loaded…except for floor mats!  Yes!  They’re the only extra!  Do you love it or what?  $155…

Maude Faigley

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