For 2021 the Hyundai Santa Fe gets a refresh with styling updates and engine choices. The base motor is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder rated at 191 horsepower. Here we have the upgraded 2.5 turbo, cranking a potent 277 hp.
It’s hooked to a slick eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. This includes all-wheel drive for better traction. Fuel economy is claimed to be 21/28 mpg, with 24 overall. This is close to what we observed.
This is the top line Calligraphy version that comes loaded with everything standard. This bumped the tab from $27K base to $42K. I did note they have somehow found the logic to charge an extra $155 for floor mats, which is just silly on a car that is supposed to have everything standard, especially at this high fee.
Driving on city streets is very pleasant. The acceleration is brisk, its ride is comfortable, and 24 mpg average fuel economy is reasonable. A dial allows four drive modes: Comfort, Sport, Snow and Smart.
Since this vehicle has all-wheel drive and a locking differential, it has the ability to go off road. We did, but we were limited because there is no spare tire issued. This is insulting considering the price. Make sure the dealer gives you one when buying. And this is a pleasant SUV worth buying.
Next up is another mid-size SUV, the Mazda CX-5. Yes, it did come with a spare tire, although a small one. Like the Hyundai, the base price starts low at $25K. This also was an upgraded version having no options, and it is $39K. This gives us the upgraded 2.5 turbo engine, cranking 250 horsepower with premium fuel, or 227 if you drop down to regular blend. A six-speed transmission is the only choice. Economy is rated at 22/27 mpg, with 24 overall. A 187-hp 2.5 is also offered.
The CX-5 is a great commuter. Acceleration is brisk, and overall ride comfort is very good. A select switch offers Normal, Sport or Eco mode. With all-wheel drive, good ground clearance, a spare tire and powerful engine, this SUV can be taken in the dirt, and we did. Just keep in mind this is a car platform, so light duty trails only.
We have two complaints to voice. First, the sun visors are lousy, as they do a poor job of blocking out the sun from the side windows. Secondly, the info heads-up display that reflects into the windshield can’t be turned off. It reactivates each time the vehicle is started. I solved the problem by jamming a black sock down the sensor hole. I guess it’s still there.
The main selling point of this CX-5 is it’s actually still made in Japan by real Japanese workers. This explains the high quality. This plus a pleasant driving experience make it worth the price.
Chad Haire, of Phoenix, test-drives vehicles for this feature.