Across the globe, the auto industry employs hundreds, if not thousands, of talented marketing experts fluent in several different languages.
But they been stumped on how to get around the letters PHEV when tasked with selling plug-in hybrids even though the vehicles are among the most efficient on the market today. But PHEV remains one of the most cumbersome acronyms used by in the auto industry even as its push towards electrification gains momentum.
However, plug-in hybrids such as the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited PHEV are now coming into their own in key segments. The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV is basically a midsize, five-seat sport utility vehicle, which has plenty of punch, as well as a steady ride and efficient handling. It also is equipped with the latest driver assistance technology as well as connectivity.
The Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV also has space for cargo and enough ground clearance — 8.2 inches — to go off the pavement or through snow or even sand. The vehicle’s versality is at the heart of its broad appeal.
The Santa Fe PHEV presents a bold face to the world with its own unique grille as well as a set of handsome light-fixtures neatly integrated into the front of the vehicle. The result is a vehicle with a substantial presence on the road or at the curb.
The profile of the Santa Fe PHEV is pretty much a standard SUV shape, though the sheet metal on the sides is nicely folded. The overall shape of the vehicle is dictated by SUV packaging. The rear liftgate also is nicely folded into the overall design, which is finished off with 19-inch wheels, power folding outside mirrors, roof rails and a panoramic sunroof.
The interior of Santa Fe is nicely furnished, though as a friend pointed out, it does not seem to have a lot of the Southwestern flourishes you would expect given the vehicle’s name, a friend observed. However, the material used to furnish the interior is of very good quality.
The interior is also nicely laid out. Hyundai has done away with the shift lever in the Santa Fe and removing it opens space for the driving mode selector as well as improving control of the screen in the center stack and the entertainment system. Hyundai does a nice job with in-vehicle screens as images are very sharp; however, I felt the display with vehicle information behind the steering wheel could have carried more information about the battery. The sound system in the vehicle was first rate and the interior was relatively quiet. Visibility from the driver’s seat also was very good.
The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe is equipped with a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission. Extra power and torque comes from the 66-kilowatt electric motor and 240-volt lithium-ion battery integrated into the powertrain.
The vehicle also is equipped with all-wheel drive, paddle shifters and various driving modes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives the Santa Fe PHEV two mileage ratings: the standard MPG rating, which is a combined rating of 33 mpg and a separate combined rating of 76 MPGe for when the Santa Fe is operating on battery power. With help from the regenerative braking system, battery-only range is about 40 miles. Hyundai also says the Santa Fe PHEV can tow 2,000 pounds.
Safety and Technology
The 2023 Santa Fe is equipped with multiple airbags for protection from frontal, side-impact and rollover accidents. It also comes with forward-collision avoidance assistance and the version I drove also had driver assistance features such as blind-spot detection, lane-keeping assistance and a driver attention warning.
It is also equipped with back-up camera, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking collision alert. The driver also enjoys niceties like a heated steering wheel, Harmon-Kardon Audio, touchscreen navigation and audio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, satellite radio connection and wireless charging.
Overall, the Santa Fe is a pleasant vehicle to drive. It has a nice solid suspension underneath it, the steering is accurate, and the regenerative braking system adds to the vehicle’s stopping power while the all-wheel drive system helps keep the vehicle steady if you must stop.
The Santa Fe, however, is a relatively heavy vehicle and by today’s standards it can feel a bit underpowered despite the extra torque from the electric motors. The transmission shifts did not seem to be as smooth as they ought to be, which was probably a function of spreading out the shift points in the 6-speed transmission.
2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited PHEV Specifications
|Dimension||Dimensions: L: 188.4 inches/W: 74.8 inches/H: 67.3 inches/Wheelbase: 108.9 inches|
|Powertrain||1.6-liter inline-4-cylinder with electric motor; 6-speed automatic transmission, AWD|
|Fuel Economy||33 mpg city/32 mpg highway/33 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||261 horsepower and 419 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $42,410; As tested: $48,915 including $1,335 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
If you are looking for an efficient vehicle with minimal emissions but are not sold on electric vehicles because public charging networks leave a lot to be desired in your neighborhood or along you regular driving routes, the Santa Fe PHEV ought to make your consideration list.
Its standard packaging and long list of driver assistance, connectivity and convenience features add to the vehicle’s overall appeal — but the electrified powertrain does drive up the price. Prices for a standard Santa Fe with only an internal combustion engine start at around $29,000. The nicely contented Hyundai Santa Fe I drove came in just under $50,000, moving it out of the reach of many thrift-minded families.
2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited PHEV — Frequently Asked Questions
What is the range of the 2023 Santa Fe PHEV?
The 2023 Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid boasts an EPA-estimated 30-mile All-Electric Range based on a fully charged battery pack and 76 combined MPGe. MPGe is the EPA-equivalent measure of gasoline fuel efficiency for electric-mode operation. It gets 33 mpg combined.
What’s the difference between the Santa Fe hybrid and the plug-in hybrid?
Those figures mirror the Santa Fe hybrid’s results — the PHEV’s 261 pounds of additional mass compared to the hybrid largely negates its extra 35 horsepower. The PHEV did have a slight advantage in our passing-acceleration tests, though, beating the hybrid by 0.5 second from 30 mph to 50 mph and by 0.7 second from 50 mph to 70 mph.
Does Santa Fe PHEV have regenerative braking?
Depending on the driving situation, the Santa Fe Hybrid switches seamlessly between its gas engine and electric motor. The regenerative braking system charges the battery by using the electric motor to slow the car.