Having benefited from a makeover for the 2022 model year, Hyundai’s midsize, two-row SUV adds a plug-in hybrid model to the line-up in addition to its hybrid variant.
Technically, it’s either an oversized compact or a small midsize, but its tweener size makes it ideal for those who don’t require three rows.
Otherwise, it’s very much like its gas-powered siblings. Its undiscernible personality may not prove tempting, but its competence as a transportation device just might.
Most 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe models are powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine with or without turbocharging. But Hyundai also offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid models that seem to be better fits. But if you want the Plug-In model — the subject of our test drive — you’ll only find it in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island or Vermont.
But Plug-in Hybrid’s ability to run 30 miles purely on electric makes it far more tempting, if only because most days, you’ll never use the Santa Fe’s gas engine.
The Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid’s design differs little from that of its internal combustion-powered siblings. It’s a bit generic, but acceptably handsome for the most part. But its toothy grille and odd headlight design can be a bit off-putting. It’s certainly distinctive, something you can’t always say about the rest of the vehicle.
By axing the third row most motorists never use, the Santa Fe PHEV offers abundant leg room in both rows, and a generous cargo hold with 36.4 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 72.1 cubic feet with them folded. Interior quality feels solid, with a contemporary design that’s pleasing. Our Limited test vehicle was brimming with luxury features such as a heated steering wheel, air-conditioned and heated front seats, and leather trim.
The Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-In Hybrid pairs a 177-horsepower 1.6-liter gas engine with a 90-horsepower (66.9 kW) electric motor generating 261 hp through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel-drive system is standard, and can send as much as 100% of engine power to the front wheels, and 50% to the rear. In addition, the Santa Fe Plug-In Hybrid can run up to 30 miles purely on electric power. Recharging takes about four hours using a Level 2 charger.
Towing is rated at 2,000 pounds with trailer brakes, 1,650 pounds without them. Ordering the Trailer Prep Package nets you pre-wiring, as well as Trailer Sway Control.
Safety and Technology
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rated the 2022 Santa Fe as having a five-star crash test rating, the agency hasn’t tested the plug-in hybrid variant. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Santa Fe as a “Top Safety Pick+,” its top designation.
Hyundai’s “SmartSense” driver-assistance system comes standard, and includes Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Blind-Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Safe Exit Assist, Rear Occupant Alert, High Beam Assist, Smart Cruise Control and Driver Attention Warning.
On our test car, the front sensors would sound randomly for no reason, and the blind-spot detection would sound when changing lanes even though the coast was clear; it was sensing cars two lanes away. This over-sensitivity is common on Hyundai and Kia vehicles.
A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is standard, as is a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. So too does wireless charging, which is integrated into a vertical slot the that conveniently holds your phone in place while its charging. That said, the charging indicator icon is too small to be legible.
When it comes to the infotainment system, its user interface is easy enough to use, but can require too many menus to do something simple. And it can be slow to respond.
Given that, for the most part, the Santa Fe has all the charisma of a major appliance, albeit a very nice one, it’s fairly benign yet capable. Maybe it’s better to think of its personality as being in a state of Zen — that way, you won’t have to name it Hoover.
The Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid proves agile enough to make driving easy, yet not so sporty as to make things uncomfortable. There’s some body lean of course, and it provides enough driving feel to keep you modestly entertained.
There’s enough oomph to provide the power that you require. However, the Santa Fe Plug-In Hybrid isn’t tuned to give you that effortless abundance of torque when accelerating from a stop, like other hybrids. This is in keeping with its gentle personality.
2022 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV Limited AWD Specifications
|L: 188.4 inches/W: 74.8 inches/H: 66.3 inches/Wheelbase: 108.9 inches
|1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a permanent magnet synchronous motor,
6-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive
|76 mpg-e/33 mpg combined
|261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $46,010; As tested: $47,450 including $1,245 destination charge
The Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-In Hybrid starts at $40,000 for the SEL Convenience model and $46,000 for the Limited. By contrast, the Santa Fe Hybrid is a fair bit cheaper, starting at $34,300 for base Blue Hybrid trim, and tops out at $40,700 for the top-of-the-line Limited.
Which to get? Let’s do the math.
According to the EPA, the Santa Fe Hybrid costs $2,300 in fueling costs annually; the Hybrid Blue, $2,150. But Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid costs just $1,400, $900 less per year than the Hybrid. That means it take you a little more than six years to break even between the two models based on their starting price.
That aside, think of how you’ll use it. If you’re only shuttling around town most days, a plug-in means rarely having to fill up with gas. And given the volatile price of gasoline, the extra cost of the Plug-In may prove worth it.
2022 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV — Frequently Asked Questions
What states sell Santa Fe plug-in hybrid?
For 2022, the Santa Fe PHEV will only be sold in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Does the Hyundai Santa Fe plug-in hybrid have seven seats?
No. It is a two-row, midsize SUV.
Is Hyundai Santa Fe plug-in hybrid AWD?
Yes. Available styles include SEL Convenience and Limited trim levels.