When Cars.com last put the Hyundai Santa Fe through its paces, it won our intensive six-vehicle Challenge and the title of best mid-size SUV of 2019. It did so in spite of its frustrating powertrain, a laggy 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the two of which, as our judges lamented, “act like friends who bring out the worst in each other. The transmission gearing and slow kickdown accentuate substantial turbo lag and modest power output.”
Having narrowly eked out that victory, the updated-for-2021 Santa Fe seems bound and determined not to just barely skate by in the future, solving its powertrain problems and motoring straight into the top tier of Cars.com’s most popular news articles of the past week.
In his comprehensive critique of the latest Santa Fe, Cars.com reviewer Brian Normile extols the virtues of the new 281-horsepower, turbocharged 2.5-liter and eight-speed dual-clutch transmission combo that displaces the old 2.0-liter, eight-speed setup.
“The most powerful Santa Fe is now … quick — almost unnervingly so. Not because it will blow away supercars off the line — though it will win more stoplight drag races than you might expect — but because it’s such a radical departure from the experience of the previous, frustrating Santa Fe turbo,” Normile states. “Power delivery is swift and linear, and passing power is always readily available.”
Meanwhile, it does so while significantly improving gas mileage by 2 mpg in its combined city/highway estimated EPA rating. For the full Santa Fe review, follow the link below to our No. 2 article of the week.
The Santa Fe’s new powertrain may have gone a long way with our reviewers, but it couldn’t quite propel it to the very top of the heap. That spot on this week’s countdown goes to our roundup of the 10 cheapest SUVs you can buy right now, all subcompact models — a useful guide for anyone who wants the benefits of a high-riding people mover but priced in the comparably affordable $20,000-to-$25,000 range. For comparison, the aforementioned 2021 Santa Fe starts around $27,000. The most modestly priced SUV of the lot is the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer in base L trim, and the priciest is the 2021 Jeep Renegade Sport.
For all the affordable SUVs in between, follow the link below to the No. 1 news story on the week’s countdown.
Rounding out the top five this week is news of the eyebrow-raising, “sort-of-off-road” 2022 Toyota Sienna Woodland Special Edition minivan at No. 3, our pricing breakdown of the 2022 Kia Sportage SUV at No. 4 and the reveal of Cars.com’s 2021 Best Eco-Friendly Car of the Year award recipient, the Ford Mustang Mach-E all-electric SUV at No. 5.
Beyond that, we’ve got headlines on the all-new 2022 Kia Carnival minivan, the updated-for-2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse SUV, the updated 2021 Nissan Leaf, the all-new 2022 Volkswagen Taos and much more, so keep reading. Here are the top 10 news stories Cars.com readers couldn’t get enough of in the past week:
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