Hyundai has followed up on its tantalising teaser image of the forthcoming 2021 Santa Fe last month, with a full reveal of the next-generation large SUV.
Little extra information accompanies the handful of images and confirmation the almost completely new model will arrive in Australia before the end of the year, but there are a few morsels to be gleaned.
Read next: Another big Hyundai SUV is coming this year
What Hyundai describes as 'revised' is actually a Santa Fe that rolls on a new platform and has grown inside and out, and is the most off-road focused generation in the model's history.
Glance inside its cabin and you'll find a new Terrain Mode selector for choosing a number of drive modes programmed into the HTRAC all-wheel drive system, optimising traction on a range of loose surfaces.
There's also a new 10.3-inch central touchscreen that forms the centrepiece of the significantly revised cabin, while on the outside there are striking 20-inch wheels.
The big hoops are likely to be an option at the higher end of the range, which is still yet to be detailed, along with at least two exterior styling packages.
The images in our gallery may appear to be of the same Santa Fe but look closer and you'll pick out subtle differences between two specification levels.
While one version has plastic arches, chunkier grille mesh and taller tyres, presumably with a more off-road leaning stance, the other has body-coloured arches, fine mesh and the full-fat 20s. That's your city slicker.
“We modernised the new Santa Fe with premium features and appealing aesthetics that are sure to add value,” said senior vice president and head of Global Design Centre SangYup Lee.
“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.”
Original story published May 2020
Hyundai appears to be tearing up the traditional model lifecycle template with a new version of the company’s Santa Fe large SUV apparently just around the corner - less than three years after the current-generation was launched.
The fourth-generation of Hyundai’s popular SUV made its global debut early in 2018 and arrived in Australian showrooms in July of the same year, but a single teaser image released by the South Korean car maker today is heralding the arrival of a fifth-gen model.
A full reveal of the car along with the all-important details is yet to be slated but you’ll be seeing the smartest version of Hyundai’s large SUV to date rolling on Australian roads before 2020 is out.
Its arrival will be unusually early for any new car, regardless of the brand, with most passenger and SUV models replaced approximately every five or six years at the minimum. In its third iteration (DM), for example, the Santa Fe hung around for nearly seven years.
Even for a mid-life update, this development in the Santa Fe’s evolution could be considered premature, although the single image of its nose revealed today appears to suggest a major redesign and something more than a light refresh.
Update or new, you decide
While Hyundai regards the new Santa Fe as a ‘revision’ of the current model (and may even retain the existing TM model code), WhichCar has learnt that it will be bigger inside and out, and employs a different platform, suggesting a dramatic redesign.
One possible explanation for the fourth-gen’s short innings could be to make way for electrification.
The company has already made clear its intention to progressively introduce more electrified vehicles with 16 new offerings expected by 2025.
Models including the Kona and Ioniq roll on platforms specifically designed to support hybrid and pure electric drivetrains, but the existing Santa Fe’s architecture is limited to combustion power until a new version arrives.
No technical information has been revealed with today’s single teaser image, but you can bet your last dollar a new Santa Fe platform will designed with electric motors in mind.
Beyond that, the new model could even represent Hyundai’s second hydrogen-powered SUV in the current range, delivering a bigger sibling for the Nexo mid-sized, fuel cell-powered SUV.
Hyundai Nexo pictured
The current-generation Santa Fe certainly isn’t loosing any momentum in the sales race and ranks comfortably in Australia’s top five favourite large SUVs. It’s possible therefore, that the new model could be sold alongside its predecessor for a period of overlap.
Whatever form the new Santa Fe takes, it won’t be the only big Hyundai to make its debut this year with the even bigger Palisade also arriving in Australia before the end of 2020.
When it touches down, the Palisade will form the new flagship of Hyundai’s line-up locally, with a large SUV that will give the Toyota Prado and Mazda CX-9 something to worry about with room for up to eight on board.
Little is given away in the first Santa Fe teaser image other than a new full-width geometric patterned grille, which incorporates new LED daytime running lights - said to reflect the company’s new integrated vehicle architecture.
More images are expected soon along with extra information that will start to unravel some of the ‘technological enhancements’ contained within the new Santa Fe, which Hyundai is describing as ‘the ultimate family adventure vehicle’.