By Frank A. Aukofer
While not competing in the luxury class of crossover sport utility vehicles, the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited possesses some of these attributes, most notably a substantial feel and a quiet cabin on the road.
It’s a midsize, four-door, two-row seat powered by a 1.6-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor that together deliver 226 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is standard.
The new Santa Fe arrives in exceptional company. It joins Hyundai’s acclaimed larger three-row crossover, the Palisade, and the redesigned 2022 Tucson, a compact that offers its hybrid model with a powertrain almost identical to that of the Santa Fe and priced at around 2,500 US dollar is less comparable.
The Santa Fe is also a dizygotic twin of the Kia Sorento. Hyundai and Kia are sister companies in South Korea and share engines and transmissions, although each has its own development, construction and tuning. A Kia Sorento EX Hybrid previously tested here came with an almost identical engine-engine combination. As with the Santa Fe Hybrid, the power moves via a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode that is operated via steering wheel paddles.
The main difference between the two was that the Sorento had front-wheel drive and three rows of seats compared to the four-wheel drive and two rows of seats on the Santa Fe. Other dimensions were within inches between the two vehicles, and the price of the Kia was about $ 3,000 lower, largely due to the Hyundai’s all-wheel drive.
But if a luxurious look and feel would crank your engine, the Santa Fe would fit the bill well. As already mentioned, it conveys solidity and silence to the driver and passengers with a tactile steering feel that would not seem alien to a Mercedes-Benz or BMW owner. The handling is safe and competent with little body support in curves.
The hybrid powertrain of the Santa Fe, which switches between electric and gasoline drive, also contributes to the quiet driving experience.
While the Santa Fe isn’t the fastest sprinter, the instant torque from the electric motor delivers a boost at low speeds so it won’t be embarrassed in city, suburban, or highway traffic. The acceleration time from zero to 60 mph is in the seven-second range, respectable, but not outstanding in this time. City / Highway / Combination fuel economy is rated at 33/30/32 miles per gallon by the EPA.
The interior exudes stylish quality. In the test car, the upholstery had an attractive combination of black and dark brown perforated and quilted leather and other materials for upholstery, door panels and the dashboard. Extensive padding on the front seat keeps the upper body neatly in place. Above that came a panoramic sliding glass roof with an opaque power screen.
Comfort and support in the outer rear seats are top notch. But the center seat is still an uncomfortable perch, despite an almost flat floor, that is high and hard, but more spacious than many others. Tilt the rear seat backs and fold them almost flat.
The instruments included Hyundai’s signature blind spot warning system. When the turn signals are activated, so-called blind spots are displayed in the instruments on the rear right or left. The only drawback: Heavy rain can leave drops on the camera lenses that partially obscure the view.
As wonderful as the system is, it is not needed if the driver uses the original blind spot warning by correctly adjusting the inside and outside mirrors to allow a far-reaching view behind the vehicle.
The base price of the Santa Fe Limited Hybrid of US $ 41,235 includes almost everything a buyer could want, in particular the full safety equipment: front collision assistant, blind spot warning, automatic high beam, rear cross traffic avoidance, attention warning of the driver, lane keeping and lane following assistant, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and occupant warning.
Other functions: navigation system, Apple Car Play and Android Auto, dual automatic climate control, memory driver’s seat, SXM satellite radio, premium audio from Harman Kardon, Bluetooth connectivity, wireless charging of devices, surround view reversing monitor, parking aid, as well as heated and ventilated Front seats.
The only option for the Santa Fe tested was $ 155 for carpeting, which raised the test price to $ 41,290, which is now only about $ 1,000 above the average price of a new car in the United States.
Model: 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited AWD four-door crossover sport utility vehicle
Motor / Motor: 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline, turbocharged, 178 hp, 195 lb-ft of torque; 59-horsepower electric motor, 195 lb-ft of torque; combined system output 226 hp, 258 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual shift mode and all-wheel drive
Overall length: 15 feet 8 inches
EPA / SAE passenger / cargo volume: 112/36 cubic feet
Height: 5 feet 6 inches
Weight: 4,245 pounds
Towability: 2,000 pounds
EPA city / highway / fuel consumption combined: 33/30/32 mpg
Base price including destination fee: $ 41,135
Price as tested: $ 41,290