In theory, a plug-in hybrid combines the best elements of both gas and battery powered vehicles. Capable of traveling long distances with reasonable efficiency thanks to its gas engine and electric motor, the PHEV can also manage short trips of emission-free driving via a relatively large capacity battery pack (for hybrids) which can be recharged via an external battery. resource.
By this logic, the Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV should be a prime candidate for today’s SUV-hungry consumers looking to enter the EV space without completely abandoning the familiarity and reliable fuel infrastructure that comes with owning a gas-powered car. But this mid-size SUV, as a hybrid petrol-electric and electric vehicle, manages to leave us wanting.
Blame it on the fact that the plug-in powertrain provides no appreciable boost to fuel economy or performance over the regular Santa Fe hybrid and that the PHEV shares its core competence with all other Santa Fe variants. So while it may be more complex, it’s not necessarily any better than its more affordable hybrid version.
The PHEV is the latest addition to the Santa Fe powertrain lineup, which also includes a hybrid and two gas-powered four-cylinder options (one naturally aspirated, the other turbocharged), and tweaks the basic Santa Fe formula by adding a lithium-ion battery pack with usable capacity. 12.4 kWh. According to the EPA, this gives it a battery-electric driving range of 31 miles. In our 75 mph highway fuel economy test, we managed 29 miles before draining the battery.
Crunching that machine’s mileage, however, requires a fine right foot. Even a light boost from the accelerator powers the 178-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. The PHEV’s 90-hp electric motor—though more powerful than the 59-hp Santa Fe hybrid unit—struggles to power the 4,505-pound SUV itself.
Combined, the electric motor and petrol engine produce a total of 261 horsepower, enough to drive the all-wheel-drive Santa Fe PHEV with aplomb. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 7.5 seconds, while the quarter mile passes after 15.7 seconds at a trap speed of 90 mph. Those numbers reflect the Santa Fe hybrid’s yield—the PHEV’s extra 261 pounds of mass compared to the hybrid largely negates the extra 35 horsepower. The PHEV did have a slight edge in our passing acceleration test, beating the hybrid by 0.5 seconds from 30 to 50 mph and 0.7 seconds from 50 to 70.
The PHEV isn’t much faster than a regular hybrid, nor is it any more economical—at least not in our hands. While the EPA estimates that the Santa Fe PHEV will average 32 mpg on the highway, 2 to 3 mpg more than the regular Santa Fe hybrid, in our 75 mph highway fuel economy test, the PHEV returned just 25 mpg over the Santa Fe. 31 mpg hybrid.
The lack of any meaningful fuel economy boost alone is arguably reason enough to pass up the Santa Fe PHEV in favor of the hybrid — then there’s the aforementioned affordability factor. With a starting price of $47,305, the top 2022 Santa Fe PHEV Limited is a sticker on our test sample for $5,300 more than the equivalent Santa Fe hybrid, both standard with all-wheel drive.
We also had some drivability issues with the PHEV. Stopping the accelerator often results in fractions of a second from 0.5 seconds. . . there isn’t any . . . while the powertrain works its way to distribute the driving force. Similarly, we had issues with the pedal response from the mixed brakes. There may be a slight delay or nonlinearity in the brake pedal. For most drivers, this isn’t a big deal, but in an emergency situation, some people find it a concern.
Also irritating is the fact that Hyundai failed to offer any sort of customization for the SUV’s regenerative braking system. While many of the automaker’s other battery-powered models allow the driver to adjust this via steering wheel-mounted paddles, the Santa Fe plug-in paddles serve the sole purpose of manually controlling the six-speed automatic transmission, which can be slow to downshift when left unchecked. alone.
The PHEV is not without its positive attributes, but they are common to all Santa Fe models. The cab benefits from ergonomic controls, countless storage spaces and this year’s improved finish. The five-seat SUV also offers comfortable seating and versatile cargo space—the latter swallowed 13 carry-on bags behind the rear seats in our test and 27 with the seats folded. Passenger accommodation is generous, although the PHEV suffers from a slight reduction in legroom in the rear seats due to the battery unit’s location under the floor.
Overall, the PHEV doesn’t offer quite enough benefits over the regular Santa Fe hybrid, especially considering the added cost. And Hyundai offers the Santa Fe PHEV only in California and the 10 other states (Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont) that have adopted and enforced the California Air Resources zero vehicle program. -Emissions Board. But car buyers who live elsewhere need not feel slighted. The cheaper, more efficient, and nationally available Santa Fe hybrid is a better choice.
2022 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV Limited
Vehicle Type: front engine, front motorized, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door carriage
Basic/As Tested: $47,305 / $47,515
Options: carpeted floor mats, $210
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, 178 hp, 195 lb-ft + AC motor, 90 hp, 224 lb-ft (combined output: 261 hp; 12.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack; 3 onboard chargers .6 kW )
Transmission: 6 speed automatic
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 12.8-inch ventilated disc/12.0-inch disc
Tires: Continental CrossContact LX Sport
235/55R-19 101H M+S
Wheelbase: 108.9 inches
Length: 188.4 inches
Width: 74.8 inches
Height: 66.3 inches
Passenger Volume, F/R: 60/50 ft3
Cargo Volume, Rear F/R: 72/36 ft3
Restraint Weight: 4505 lb
CD TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.5 seconds
1/4-Mile: 15.7 seconds @ 90 mph
100 mph: 20.4 seconds
120 mph: 35.0 sec
The above result removes 1 foot launch from 0.4 seconds.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 7.5 seconds
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.8 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.7 sec
Top Speed (CD approx.): 130 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 176 ft
Road hold, 300 ft Skidpad: 0.83 g
CD FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 27 MPGe
Freeway Driving 75 mph, EV/Hybrid Mode: 76 MPGe/25 mpg
75 mph Highway Range, EV/Hybrid mode: 29/310 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 33/33/32 mpg
Combined Gasoline + Electric: 76 MPGe
EV range: 31 miles
CD TESTING EXPLAINED