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The Best Hyundais of 2021

Offering an extensive lineup of vehicles, value for the money, and the best warranty in the business, it is difficult to choose the best Hyundais of 2021.

A Hyundai for Everyone

Hyundai Elantra N and Kona N - hyundainews.com
Hyundai Elantra N and Kona N - hyundainews.com

It goes without saying that Hyundai has come a long way from its reputation of making cheap and disposable vehicles. In fact, over the last decade, the Korean automaker has established itself as a serious competitor, and in recent years, they have received high scores in terms of reliability.

When it comes to value for the money, Hyundai is a leader in many categories, especially for compact cars and compact/mid-size SUVs. Not to mention, they offer one of the best warranties in the business. Therefore, it should not be surprising that choosing the best Hyundai models for 2021 can be a challenging task. In simple terms, you could say all of them, although we decided to select a few that represent a combination of value and features in their respective categories.

2021 Hyundai Accent

2021 Hyundai Accent - hyundaiusa.com
2021 Hyundai Accent - hyundaiusa.com

The entry-level Hyundai Accent’s specs may not be inspiring, although the same could be said for any car with a base MSRP of $16,000. Its 120-horsepower 1.6L four-cylinder engine will not win a drag race, and highway passing is nothing spectacular, but the Accent will get you from point A to point B. Not to mention, it is reliable and comes with an excellent 5-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

So, what do you get for less than $20,000? For starters, good gas mileage up to the tune of 33 mpg for combined city and highway driving when paired with the six-speed manual. Swapping in the CVT bumps it up to 36 mpg combined in the same conditions. On the interior, you should not expect a miracle, although the Hyundai Accent comes reasonably equipped with a 5” touchscreen infotainment system. Moving up to the SEL and Limited models will get you a larger 7” screen with both models offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Cabin space is about average for a subcompact sedan, and cargo capacity is on the lower end, especially when compared to the hatchbacks in this segment.

2021 Hyundai Accent - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Accent - hyundainews.com

When it comes to picking the best Hyundai, sometimes simple and boring is the best option. For a budget daily driver or a grocery-getter, the 2021 Hyundai Accent is reliable, gets excellent fuel economy, and has an outstanding warranty. Likewise, for those who prefer three pedals, it is one of a few cars offered with a manual transmission, although that option is limited to the base trim.

2022 Hyundai Kona

2022 Hyundai Kona N-Line - hyundaiusa.com
2022 Hyundai Kona N-Line - hyundaiusa.com

SUVs have become Hyundai’s bread and butter over the last decade, with the Kona being one of the newer additions to the list. First released in 2018, this subcompact SUV receives its first major refresh for the 2022 model year. Checking in at $22,000, the 2022 Hyundai Kona is an excellent value for the money when compared to the Honda HR-V and the Mazda CX-30. Not to mention, it comes with a better warranty than either of those options.

Suffice to say, you get a lot of standard features for the money. An 8” touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility comes standard, and a larger (and more capable) 10.25” version is available on some higher trims. Despite being a subcompact SUV, the Kona can comfortably seat four adults, although its cargo space is a bit lacking. Albeit, that’s to be expected for a vehicle of this size.

2022 Hyundai Kona N-Line - hyundaiusa.com
2022 Hyundai Kona N-Line - hyundaiusa.com

The base engine is a naturally aspirated 2.0L four-cylinder that makes 147 horsepower. However, the smaller 195-horsepower 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder is a better choice and has more power than anything the competition has to offer. Despite the extra ponies, the turbo option still manages to get 30 mpg combined, with the AWD versions of both engines averaging a couple of mpg less. Buyers can also opt for a fully electric Kona with a respectable 250-mile range, although this model has a higher base price of $34,000.

Also scheduled to debut later this year is a sportier N Line trim powered by the Veloster’s 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder. Putting down 286 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque, this hotrod pocket AWD SUV is rumored to be able to sprint from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. That addition will solidify the Kona on this list of the best Hyundais.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe - hyundainews.com

Arguably one of the best mid-size SUVs for 2021, the Hyundai Santa Fe received two new (and larger) 2.5L engines in either naturally aspirated or turbocharged form. They’re joined by a pair of hybrid models being added to the lineup. As is the norm with Hyundai, the Santa Fe’s calling card is its value and the warranty, making it an excellent choice for anyone considering a mid-size SUV.

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Suffice to say, you get a lot of SUV for the money at a considerable discount when compared to the traditional class leaders, the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. For starters, a host of driver’s assistance tech like front collision avoidance with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control come standard. In addition, higher trim models can be equipped with luxury features like leather ventilated front and heated rear seats and a premium sound system. While some may not like the fact the Santa Fe lacks a third row, the rear passengers have extra legroom, plus a generous amount of cargo space.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe - hyundainews.com
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe - hyundainews.com

The main complaint with the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe is the poor fuel economy across the board with the gasoline-powered models averaging 24-26 mpg combined, while the hybrids fare slightly better at 32-34 mpg combined. However, those numbers are still below average when compared to other mid-sized SUVs.

Aside from the less than stellar fuel economy, there are few complaints about the Hyundai Santa Fe. It is a solid SUV for the money and can be well-equipped for a great price, a price that is sometimes a few thousand less than similarly spec’d competitor models.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundaiusa.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundaiusa.com

While it may be too soon to say it is the best Hyundai as the Santa Cruz is an all-new vehicle, it has a lot going for it. Inspired by the same idea as the Honda Ridgeline, this utility vehicle is part SUV and part compact pickup. Built off the Tucson platform, it features a unibody construction instead of the traditional chassis-on-frame used by many pickups. As such, it offers a smoother ride, although it is less capable when it comes to off-road performance and towing capacity.

Obviously, compromises had to be made, but the Hyundai Santa Cruz makes up for it in terms of versatility. For starters, it can tow up to 5,000 lbs if equipped with the more powerful turbo motor. Granted that is nothing spectacular when compared to a full-size truck, it is sufficient for towing a small boat or a pair of jet skis. Likewise, the small 4’ bed will not replace a work truck, although it is ideal for storing some dirty outdoor gear that you would prefer not to have inside the vehicle.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundaiusa.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundaiusa.com

The Santa Cruz has a nice cabin which can be considered better than average for a light truck. Likewise, interior space is on par with many four-door crew cab trucks. Cloth seats are standard, although the higher trims can be optioned with leather. As with other Hyundai models, infotainment system choices are an 8” and optional 10.25” touchscreen. Likewise, engine choices are the same pair of 2.5L four-cylinders used in the Santa Fe, although the turbo-four gets a mild bump to 281 horsepower. The fuel economy is not spectacular, with the FWD and AWD naturally aspirated 2.5L averaging 23 mpg combined and the AWD turbo getting a single mpg less.

MSRP ranges from $25,000 for the base model all the way up to $40,000 for the fully-loaded AWD Limited. With the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz just beginning to show up on dealer lots, it is difficult to say whether it will succeed or flop. However, it does come with Hyundai’s excellent warranty and is well-equipped for the price. While it won’t replace a pickup by any means, the Santa Cruz has the potential to win over some SUV shoppers that appreciate its versatility.

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Andrew Pecquex

Andrew Pecquex's interest in cars ignited the moment he turned the key of his first vehicle. Since then, he's navigated tracks through auto-X and drag racing. As a researcher, Andrew used his master’s degree in international commerce and policy from George Mason University to write business reports and country studies. Now he writes cost-benefits analysis of buying and selling cars. Andrew’s work as a mechanic gave him a strong knowledge of auto parts and repairs, allowing him to upkeep and upgrade his own vehicles in his spare time.

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