Say you want to haul a bunch of stuff along with a few people and you want to take everything with you on a long trip somewhere. You would look for something roomy, comfortable, dependable, smooth, affordable, efficient and fun to drive. The Santa Fe Hybrid is an ideal partner for such a task. We found ourself in love with the Santa Fe after spending a few days with it and found that a lot of people have spent a lot of time to build a vehicle that works well for you.

The Santa Fe was restyled for 2021 and it received a new skin that makes it look more like a Range Rover than a Santa Fe. From the outside, it looks bold and aggressive, and the LED lighting makes it catch your attention.

Inside the Santa Fe is a new improved interior that feels even richer and more expensive than before. It is amazing what Hyundai has done especially when you consider how much the Santa Fe costs. Looking at the details inside really makes you wonder how Hyundai can possibly be making a profit on these cars.

A new floating center console design adds a more spacious feel throughout the cabin. The soft Nappa leather, soft-touch padding, new ambient lighting and a new 10.25-inch touchscreen display further enhance the luxurious character of the interior. A multi-layered, three-dimensional instrument panel and contrasting seat stitching convey premium touches throughout the cabin. Santa Fe’s large windows enhance the feeling of openness for occupants with generous amounts of natural light and above average visibility.

In the first-ever application for the Hyundai SUV family, the Santa Fe now offers a hybrid propulsion system for eco-focused buyers. SUV buyers expect all-weather capability and the Santa Fe Hybrid includes standard all-wheel drive. The hybrid powertrain features a 1.6-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder engine coupled with a new HEV-tuned six-speed automatic transmission. This new six-speed transmission is specially tuned for optimal efficiency, economy and driving performance in a turbocharged application. The turbo engine yields an output of 178 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, with an estimated 225 horsepower from the combined engine and motor system, and peak torque estimated at 195 lb.-ft. at 4,000 rpm.

The HEV starter-generator and the electric drive motor are both permanent-magnet type systems, with the hybrid starter-generator rated at 13 kW and the electric drive motor rated at 44 kW (59 horsepower). The system utilizes a lithium-ion polymer battery rated at 1.5 kWh and 270V/5.5 Ah, with a maximum battery output of 64kW, efficiently storing the hybrid’s electric energy efficiently in a compact and lightweight package.

The Santa Fe Hybrid is engineered for efficiency and is not meant to be a sports car. Consequently, the shifts are smooth but slow and there is not a ton of power under the hood. If you want a fast SUV, this is not it. But on the plus side the EPA rates it at 36 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Those are remarkable numbers especially when you consider that the Santa Fe weighs more than 4,000 pounds and can haul over 72 cubic feet of stuff behind the front seats. It can even tow 2,000 pounds of trailer.

We did not believe that the Santa Fe Hybrid could get such great fuel economy. Most hybrids fail in the highway MPG number. Drive the Santa Fe at 60 mph and you will get close to 40 mpg. With a full load and driven at fast highway speeds, we averaged a respectable 28 mpg driving through hills and mountains. That is a great trade off for being a little slow in acceleration.

Families want comfort and economy and the Santa Fe Hybrid is perfect for them. It has a huge list of luxury features that pampers the parents who will be driving it. There is a large 10 inch navigation screen, 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster screen, remote start (with cabin temperature, heated and ventilated seats settings), Harmon Kardon premium audio, wireless phone charging pad, wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, plus the usual package of driver assistance systems that consumers want such as blind spot monitoring, smart cruise control, parking collision avoidance, lane keeping assist, etc.

Ride comfort, handling and driving confidence are improved through key developments in the body structure, braking system and rigidity of the new Santa Fe. The braking system was significantly enhanced with a high-capacity booster, increased rotor size and refinements to the ABS/ESC system. The body structure has increased high-tensile steel for greater body rigidity, improving ride and handling while reducing weight. Noise from acceleration is reduced from a redesigned isolation pad in the instrument panel structure. In addition, the aerodynamic coefficient of drag for Santa Fe has improved from 0.34 to 0.33 through redesigned undercovers for the subframe, engine compartment, and center/rear floor areas that results in a quieter cabin.

The Santa Fe family remains quite affordable. The entry level car starts out at $27,000 while the Hybrid starts out at just over $33,000. The fully loaded SEL Hybrid only costs $37,800 and has every luxury feature you need. That is a great deal that every family needs.


Engine: 1.6-liter Turbo GDI DOHC
Horsepower: 178 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 195 @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
Front Suspension: McPherson strut
Rear Suspension: Multilink, independent, separated shocks and springs
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Axle Ratio: 3.51:1
Curb Weight: 4,227 lbs.
Base MSRP: $33,900
Image courtesy of Hyundai

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