The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe and the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport are two midsize SUVs that skip the third row of seats. Here’s how they compare.
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe
Above Average: High-tech features; two gasoline engines plus a hybrid; standard active-safety features; long warranty.
Below Average: Pushbutton gear selector; lack of any sporty version.
Consensus: The freshly updated 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe builds on the well-rounded model’s existing strengths with improved powertrains, more tech, and a fuel-sipping hybrid.
2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
Above Average: Spacious interior; impressive Digital Cockpit; tows up to 5,000 pounds.
Below Average: Disappointing fuel economy; firm ride; pricey top trims.
Consensus: The 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is one of the largest midsize, 2-row SUVs. It offers lots of room and robust towing capacity.
Santa Fe vs. Atlas Cross Sport: Spacious 2-Row SUVs
Hyundai Santa Fe
Updated for 2021, the Hyundai Santa Fe now has three available powertrains and an impressive roster of tech features. The two lower trims use a 191-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and an 8-speed automatic with front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Upper trims get a turbo 2.5-liter with 281 horsepower and similar fuel economy.
The efficiency champ is the new hybrid that returns 39 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. It’s available in the two middle trim grades.
Santa Fe has lots of room for people and cargo, and the interior has been upgraded—especially in the luxurious new Caligraphy trim level. A solid roster of active safety features is included once you get past the base model.
Lower grades get an 8-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Wired smartphone mirroring is included on the 10.25-inch unit in higher grades. Additional tech features include Hyundai’s impressive Highway Driving Assist automated lane-centering system, live-camera Blind Spot View Monitor, digital instrument cluster, and the ability to use your smartphone as a key.
Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
The Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is not much smaller than the closely related 3-row Atlas. Within its blocky body is lots of room for passengers and their luggage. Although interior materials are strictly mediocre, the available Digital Cockpit on upper trims impresses—the 10-inch display is sharp-looking and highly configurable. The 8-inch infotainment system has been upgraded this year, while the base car gets a 6.5-inch unit.
Forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert are standard, while lane-keep assist and Travel Assist (adaptive cruise control with lane-centering) are included on mid-grade and higher trims.
Buyers choose from a 253-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo I4 or a 276-hp 3.6-liter V6, both paired with a well-mannered 8-speed automatic and FWD or AWD. Either engine is fairly thirsty, with the 2.0-liter averaging 22 mpg and the 3.6-liter managing just 20 mpg with FWD or 19 with AWD. Both deliver adequate acceleration. The V6’s main advantage is its ability to tow up to 5,000 pounds. The Atlas rides firmly, but overly light steering makes it not so sporty to drive.
Passenger space; choice of engines; available AWD.
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Advantages
Lower pricing; available hybrid; upscale interior; fuel economy; long warranty; three years free scheduled maintenance.
2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Advantages
Towing capacity; more powerful standard engine; slightly more luggage capacity.
Which One Is Right for Me?
The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe’s appeal lies in its more luxurious interior, superior fuel economy, available hybrid, extra-long warranty, and free scheduled maintenance.
The burly 2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport is larger outside, has a bit more cargo space inside, and is the choice for those towing a heavy trailer.
Ready to buy a Hyundai Santa Fe or a Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport? Shop for one on sale near you
|2021 Hyundai Santa Fe||2021 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport|
|Engine||2.5-liter I4||2.0-liter turbo I4|
|Horsepower||191 hp @ 6,100 rpm||235 hp @ 4,500 rpm|
|Torque||182 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm||258 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm|
|Transmission||8-spd automatic||8-spd automatic|
|Fuel Economy||25 mpg (22 city/29 hwy)||22 mpg (21 city/24 hwy)|
|Also Available||2.5-liter turbo I4; hybrid; AWD||3.6L V6; AWD|
|Basic Warranty||5 years/60,000 miles||4 years/50,000 miles|
|Powertrain Warranty||10 years/100,000 miles||4 years/50,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety||n/a||5 stars|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||108.9 inches||117.3 inches|
|Overall Length||188.4 inches||195.5 inches|
|Width||74.8 inches||78.4 inches|
|Height||66.3 inches||67.8 inches|
|Turning Diameter||37.5 feet||40.5 feet|
|Headroom, Front||41.2 inches||39.4 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||39.0 inches||37.8 inches|
|Legroom, Front||44.1 inches||41.6 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||41.7 inches||40.4 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||59.1 inches||61.5 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||58.3 inches||60.6 inches|
|EPA Passenger Volume||n/a||112 cubic feet|
|EPA Cargo Volume||36.4/72.1 cubic feet||40.3/77.8 cubic feet|