2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy in Quartz White (a $300 option)

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy

Quick Spin, Consumer Guide Automotive

Class: Midsize Crossover SUV

Miles driven: 355

Fuel used: 15.2 gallons

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortA-
Power and PerformanceB+
Fit and FinishA
Fuel EconomyB
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyA
Tall GuyA
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Engine Specs277-hp 2.5-liter
Engine TypeTurbo 4-cyl
Transmission 8-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive WheelsAWD

Real-world fuel economy: 23.4 mpg

Driving mix: 55% city, 45% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 21/28/24 (mpg city, highway, combined)

Fuel type: Regular gas

Base price: $42,100 (not including $1175 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: Quartz White paint ($300), carpeted floor mats ($155)

Price as tested: $43,730


Quick Hits

The great: Comfortable, spacious cabin for passengers and cargo; generous list of comfort and safety features; quietness

The good: Luxury-level cabin appointments; competitive pricing

The not so good: Thick rear roof pillars impede rear visibility somewhat

More Santa Fe price and availability information


CG Says:

When Consumer Guide tested the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid several months ago, we began our review by ticking off the many things that were new about the midsize crossover SUV for the year. Among them were the hybrid itself, and a new premium trim level for the gas-engine models called Calligraphy. Now we get to turn our attention to the latter.

Tagged at $43,275 to start—delivery included—the Calligraphy is one of two Santa Fe models that feature a new 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It comes only with Hyundai’s HTRAC torque-allocating all-wheel drive.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy
Along with its substantial revamp for 2021, the Hyundai Santa Fe gains a new top-line model named Calligraphy.

At about $1800 more than an AWD Limited with which it shares its powertrain, the Calligraphy’s specific upgrades include dark-chrome grille accents and exterior door handles, quilted Nappa-leather upholstery, a perforated leather wrap for the steering wheel, faux-suede microfiber headliner, head-up display, automatic down/up for the second-row power windows, and expanded interior accent lighting. There is a choice of 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels with the latter adding $200 to the starting price listed above.

First Spin: 2022 Lexus NX

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy
All Hyundai Santa Fes get a significant interior refresh for 2021. Among the new features are a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, and a push-button gear selector.

The new turbo engine replaces a 2.0-liter job of 235 horsepower. The 2.5 generates 277 horsepower (destined to rise to 281 for 2022) and 311 lb-ft of torque. We found that some standing starts exhibited a lackluster brief delay, but the engine is satisfyingly powerful once hooked up, and there’s a little better throttle response in “Sport” driving mode. Sport also holds off upshifts from the well-mannered dual-clutch transmission—which, like the hybrid’s 6-speed transmission, is activated by push buttons on the console. In modestly paced driving, the trans would upshift at around 2500 rpm in Sport versus 2000 revs in “Comfort” mode; at a steady 40 mph the engine turned at 2000 rpm in Sport but 1500 in Comfort. (“Smart” and “Snow” are the other available modes for better economy and slippery-surface traction, respectively.)

Test Drive: 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy
There’s ample space for most adults in the Santa Fe’s front and rear seats. Calligraphy models come standard with Nappa leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, and heated outboard rear seats.

EPA estimates for fuel economy are 21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 combined. Leaning a little toward city-style driving, CG’s composite figure came out to 23.4 mpg, though a couple individual stints slightly exceeded 24.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy
A large panoramic sunroof is standard equipment.

With the 19-inch wheels ride is smooth and bumps are handled pretty well—a stiffened body structure is one of the changes for ’21. The quiet cabin really filters out road and traffic noise well. Santa Fes handle easily with nice body control in curves and lane changes, though steering isn’t big on delivering feedback from the road. Brakes in gas-engine models are spared the pedal vagueness apparent in hybrids that’s a function of regenerative energy capture during stopping.

Test Drive: 2021 Kia Sorento SX Prestige X-Line

The redesigned cabin with a new upswept console (its shape allows for a handy floor-level “purse porch” below) had the same high-line electronics complement in the Calligraphy as was in the Limited hybrid tested earlier: a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and infotainment functions handled via a 10.25-inch touchscreen. The system includes navigation and Harman Kardon premium audio. Tuning and volume knobs have been moved from the display screen but it’s still fairly easy to input stations. We do have a bit of an argument with Hyundai’s choice to move off the radio display screen after a few moments. It seems to us that users shouldn’t have to push the “Radio” button to see the display once the radio is on until they need to access a different function. The dual-zone climate system has switched out its convenient temperature-selection dials for repetitive-push toggle levers.

Space for passengers and cargo is as good in the Calligraphy as we found it in the hybrid Limited. However, we did note that the Calligraphy has just one second-row storage pouch, this on the back of the front passenger seat.

The Santa Fe Calligraphy offers a lot, but some of its extras lean more to the cosmetic side. A gas-engine Limited offers all the premium model’s substantive stuff at a bit of a savings. However, if you desire a more sumptuous Santa Fe, the fancy handwriting’s on the wall.

Test Drive: 2022 Hyundai Tucson Limited Hybrid

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy
The upgrades of the Santa Fe’s new-for-2021 Calligraphy trim level are predominantly cosmetic, but they add a bit more upscale appeal to what is already a standout two-row, 5-passenger midsize SUV.

Check out the Consumer Guide Car Stuff Podcast

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy Gallery

(Click below for enlarged images)

Test Drive: 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited

Car Stuff Podcast

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