Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV
The Hyundai Santa Fe has been known for the last twenty years as a versatile and practical vehicle. The fourth-generation Santa Fe takes these two qualities to a new level by introducing a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid variant of the popular family-oriented SUV. Let’s dig deeper into the improvements made by the Korean automaker for the 2022 model. Our test model had an MSRP of $51,538 and was assembled in the Montgomery, AL, plant.
Hyundai unveiled the fourth generation in 2018, then gave it a facelift in 2020 to keep it contemporary and fresh. The changes are subtle; the main differences are the front grille and the headlights unit, nothing too drastic since it’s just an update. The same design is carried over onto this model’s sides and back. The Santa Fe isn’t outdated by any means, so there is no need to make radical changes to a winning formula.
Inside, our test vehicle was equipped with Beige leather which improved the experience inside the cabin. The contrast between the doors and the interior surfaces makes for a refined experience. Behind the steering wheel is the digital 12.3-inch LED screen display, a trend in Korean products. You can personalize it to your liking, showing a variety of information. On top of the middle climate vents, the 8-inch touchscreen is in all its glory with wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Nothing excessive or ground-breaking, but the screen is reliable and quick to respond. Unfortunately, in both hybrid configurations, you can’t get the optional 10.25-inch touchscreen and the Harman/Kardon premium sound system, although the sound system in our test model was pretty good.
Then on your right, you will find the revised center console. The gear lever is gone; it’s replaced with gear buttons. A key button is next to the reverse command; the EV/HEV is where you can switch from 100% battery power to the hybrid powertrain. The Drive Mode selector and the heated steering wheel commands will also be found in this location. The climate controls are easy and quick to manipulate. The chargers are placed under the control panel, and you can also use the room to store a purse which is a clever use of this wasted space between the two seats. There’s plenty of room for adults to sit in front and back. ISOFIX ports and rear anchors are all well indicated and within reach for everyone to quickly install car seats. The panoramic sunroof spans over both rows of seats, and there are rear sunshades built-in the doors, excellent features so everyone can enjoy any trip inside the redesigned Santa Fe. The cargo room is quite large; however, if you’re looking for a third row, you need to get the larger Palisade to sit seven. You can fold the second row with the touch of a button to quickly increase cargo room. The Hyundai Santa Fe remains one of the most practical SUVs on the market today.
Under the hood of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe offers four possible powertrains; three are turbocharged, and two are coupled to an electric motor. Our model is the plug-in hybrid model, which combines a turbo 1.6L 4-cylinder with an electric motor and a 13.8 kWh battery in the back. A six-speed automatic transmission sets up these components to work in harmony. The total output is a combined 260hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, bringing the vehicle to 100kph in around 6.0 seconds, which is not so bad for a family-oriented SUV. As for electric range, the first thing to know is if you live in a colder climate and charge the vehicle outside, it will not start on battery power alone. However, if you have an indoor heated parking space, you can drive in electric mode from the start. Hyundai estimates the range to be around 50km, and we were close to achieving this number, 46km to be precise.
The Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV on the road has a pretty unremarkable driving experience focused on comfort and efficiency. When you step on the brakes, you feel the weight of this two-ton vehicle shifting to the front; it feels like an early 2010 SUV rather than a modern and refined vehicle. That being said, the Santa Fe is an excellent choice on a day-to-day basis with the vast cargo space and spacious second-row. It’s rather strange that it isn’t offered with third-row seats, a configuration only offered in the larger Palisade. You can also change the drive mode and the type of terrain you’re in to maximize the HTRAC across all the trim models. In corners, once again, it’s difficult to ignore the weight when you take sharp corners at relatively high speeds; even though it isn’t supposed to be a sporty sedan, it would’ve been helpful to stiffen up the suspension a tiny bit more. Now, the shift from the electric motor to gasoline is somewhat smooth; the vibrations are pretty intense when the engine is cold, but once it’s hot, the cabin is quiet. As we said earlier, if you charge the vehicle outside at freezing temperature, the car will start automatically with the gasoline engine to preserve the battery for later use. The battery takes about 3.5 hours to charge on a level 2 charger and close to 11 hours on a level 1 charger (household style); it’s a shame that the battery only charges at a speed of up to 3.3kW since the most recent PHEV models can charge at least 5kW. On average, when the battery is empty, you can expect the fuel consumption for this midsize SUV to be around 8.5L/100km. It’s a little disappointing compared to other hybrid SUVs that can go as low as 6.0L/100km.
All in all, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV is a welcome addition to the rising fuel prices we are all facing. It’s roomy, comfortable and has a relatively quiet ride. The only downsides are the lack of third-row seats and fuel consumption that isn’t up to par with the best hybrids on the market when the battery is empty. However, if you opt for this vehicle and purchase a home charger, you will ride in quietness and smoothness for most of your ride to work, the grocery store, the school or all of the above!
Hyundai has lent us this vehicle for one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Hyundai Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.