Off-roading

The Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV Hybrid is one of the latest in Midsize Crossover vehicles that offers a great ride and satisfying fuel economy in a near-luxury package. We at Napleton News think that this Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle also offers the best of both the electric and internal combustion worlds. Read on to find out what we really think.

What’s under the hood of the Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV Hybrid?

1.6 engine
The 1.6-liter Turbo inline-4 of the Santa Fe PHEV Hybrid.

An electric motor, turbocharged 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engine, and lithium-ion battery generate power for the Hybrid Santa Fe. It’s a beefier battery than what’s found in the regular Santa Fe Hybrid and offers the ability to hit 30 miles using pure electric power. The gas engine provides 178 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor provides 66.9 kW (90 hp) and 224 lb-ft of torque. Combined, it’s good for 261 horsepower. The drivetrain is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. Every Santa Fe Hybrid is complete with all-wheel drive.

The EPA says this package will deliver 33 mpg city and a mile-per-gallon equivalency (MPGe) of 76 miles.

It looks…normal, but is it?

Grille
The grille.

Side-by-side, the likelihood of picking the Santa Fe PHEV from the regular gas-burning version would be difficult. Save for the blue badging and an extra “gas cap,” they look identical. And that’s not really a gas cap in the first place. It’s where you plug in the charger to replenish the PHEV’s batteries.

rear view PHEV Santa Fe
From the rear, the PHEV is a looker.

The overall look is status quo normal. Bypassing the new age looks seen in some brands, the Santa Fe Hybrid looks exactly like a normal Santa Fe. A brushed chrome grille starts the party with a look that we must say looks quite elegant.

Chrome accents do their part to dress up the Santa Fe PHEV from front to rear. Expressive LED headlights and daylight running lights shine the way forward, with chrome brightwork adding to the “class-above” vibe. Other than badges proclaiming its PHEV status in the world, there’s very little to differentiate this Santa Fe from the model that was originally introduced in 2021.

Drivers seat
The business side of the Santa Fe PHEV Hybrid.

What about inside the Santa Fe  PHEV Hybrid?

Keeping the “Class-above” feel, the PHEV’s interior looks more expensive than it actually may be. There’s plenty of room for five passengers, with up to 36.4 cubic feet behind them in the cargo area. Quilted leather upholstery classes up the joint, while heated and ventilated seats let owners, er, rest on their laurels. Rear seat passengers can keep their buns toasty, too, thanks to outboard heating in the second row.

Another feature of note: Despite the larger battery that’s part of the PHEV architecture, it has not encroached on any seating or legroom space inside the vehicle. Kudos to the interior designers for their clever packaging efforts.

Other new features include:

Santa Fe PHEV interior
The interior of the new Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV Hybrid.
  • A 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with Over the Air map updates, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • Hyundai Digital Key allows several users to program a keycard on to their smartphone.
  • A 12.3-inch driver instrumentation display.
  • Highway Driving Assist with minor steering adjustments on the fly.
  • Hands-free tailgate with auto-open.
  • Remote Smart Parking Assist: Use the key fob as a remote control to park your car.

Behind the wheel.

We found the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid actually drove like a regular Hyundai Santa Fe. Starting in standard Hybrid mode will find a vehicle that is surprisingly quiet, yet peppy. Stepping on the accelerator rapidly will cause a bit of squawk from the box, as the gas engine wakes from its slumber. From there, the powertrain works seamlessly to move power to the pavement.

Handling was actually very good, too, owing to the lower center of gravity of the Santa Fe batteries lying low in the chassis. The Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV Hybrid is even capable of some corner cutting, although we would recommend that only for experienced drivers.

The Santa Fe PHEV Hybrid offers excellent power, great handling, a large cargo hold and excellent mileage. All these and more show that Hyundai isn’t show-boating but instead, is very serious about their work.

rushing through the woods
Off-roading through the woods.

Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Specifications

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV Hybrid AWD
Engine Type 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-4 cylinder + twin electric motors
Horsepower 261 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque 224 lb-ft
Transmission 6-speed automatic transmission
Fuel Economy (Combined/City/Hwy) 33 (EPA)/ 76 MPGE
Suspension F/R MacPherson Strut / Multi-link
Turning Circle 37.4 ft.
Also Available Gasoline powered, rear or AWD, various trim levels.
Specs
Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 10 years/100,000 miles
NHTSA Safety Rating Not Rated
Max Seating Capacity 5
Wheelbase 108.9 inches
Overall Length 188.4 inches
Width 74.8 inches
Height 66.3 inches
Cargo Room (Behind 1st and 2nd row) 72.1/36.4 Cubic Feet
Headroom, Front 39.5 inches
Headroom, 2nd 37.8 inches
Legroom, 1st 44.1 inches
Legroom, 2nd 39.5 inches
Shoulder room, 1st row 59.1 inches
Shoulder room, 2nd row 58.3 inches

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