Hyundai has released the first official images and details of the upcoming new 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe. This is by right a facelift of the current fourth-generation TM – which first surfaced not too long ago in February 2018 – but it’s as heavy as facelifts come, as there’s a new platform underneath.

Billed as “the ultimate family adventure vehicle”, the latest Santa Fe was developed to offer a premium experience while meeting the complete needs of an entire family, Hyundai says.

“We modernised the New Santa Fe with premium features and appealing aesthetics that are sure to add value. The bold lines that extend from one side to the other and from front to back give Santa Fe a rugged yet refined look that SUV customers want. Besides, we’ve added numerous features and functions to create a truly family-focused SUV that is a pleasure to drive,” said SangYup Lee, senior VP and head of Hyundai’s Global Design Center.

The original TM Santa Fe’s front end is already a bold one with three tiers of lighting. This facelift deletes the small foglamps at the lower bumper, which now has a clamped shaped air intake. The grille is now visually merged with the headlamps for a full width effect.

Diving in, the grille has a signature geometric patterned inlay that appears like cascading scales. There’s also another version of the grille in a chain link style that’s rather similar to today’s version. The new Santa Fe will be very distinctive at night thanks to T-shaped LED daytime running lights that bisects the main light beams.

Hyundai also points to the seamless line that connects the DRLs to the tail lights, giving the car a “sensuously sporty look”. The increased width on the wheel arches accentuate the SUV’s rugged look, and the largest wheels are now 20-inch items. The latter, coupled with body coloured lower body panels seen here (as opposed to black) are part of the new Luxury Package.

At the rear, the redesigned LED tail lights are now connected by a slim illuminated bar, which replaces a chrome bar. The bumper design is also new, and there’s now a full width red reflector strip.

Inside, the twin-cowl dashboard is familiar, but the high centre console is new and now sits on a sloping angle. Hyundai says that the new cabin provides more space, comfort, and convenience and “takes the car to a new level of luxury with every component finished in premium soft-touch materials”.

On the fresh centre console, the controls are all new and the traditional shifter has been replaced by buttons. The shift-by-wire system allowed the designers to have buttons instead of a knob. For the first time, the Santa Fe comes with a Terrain Mode selector – a control knob for Eco, Sport, Comfort and Smart drive modes, as well as the HTRAC all-wheel-drive system’s sand, snow and mud presets.

The “floating” centre console’s layout freed up space for more storage in the redesigned lower dashboard. There’s also a new 10.25-inch AVN (audio, video, navigation) touchscreen display with pre-loaded maps, satellite-based voice guided navigation, rear camera display and connectivity features. The meter panel is now a 12.3-inch digital cluster.

As mentioned earlier, this is no mere facelift, as the 2021 Santa Fe is built on an “Integrated Architecture” with ‘Smartstream’ hybrid and plug-in hybrid options available for the first time. The Korean carmaker says that the new Santa Fe will be the first Hyundai model in Europe (launching there in September) and first Hyundai SUV globally based on the all-new third-generation vehicle platform.

It allows for significant improvements in performance, handling and safety, as well as facilitating electrified powertrains, it’s claimed. The underpinnings should be similar to that in the fourth-generation 2021 Kia Sorento that was revealed in March.

With a system that controls the flow of air, the new platform improves air movement through the engine bay and allows heat to dissipate. This enhances stability in the lower part of the vehicle. Vehicle stability is further enhanced by the lowered position of heavy equipment within the platform. Aerodynamics have also been improved, Hyundai says.

The fixed points for the steering arms have been positioned closer to the middle of the front wheels, allowing for more agile handling. Meanwhile, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) performance is improved through reinforced sound-absorbing systems in vibration-sensitive parts.

Hyundai says that the new platform also brings with it improvements in collision safety. Through the use of a multi-load path structure, hot stamping, and the integration of a super high-tensile steel plate, the platform will enable the car to better absorb the crash impact while at the same time minimising deformation of the passenger space. More details to come, for sure.

Not everyone nails bold and classy at the same time, but IMHO this new Santa Fe ticks both boxes. What do you think?

GALLERY: 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe in Malaysia