2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Review:Driving Impressions

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Dec 15, 2021

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid demonstrates that the days of paying lots more for a hybrid while accepting a disappointing driving experience and less space for cargo are definitely over.

Does the Hyundai Santa Fe Come in a Hybrid? - Find the best Hyundai deals!

When Hyundai made widespread updates to the 2021 Santa Fe, it introduced a new hybrid model rated to get between 32 and 34 mpg in combined driving, depending on the trim level.

Santa Fe Hybrid models use a turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine paired with a 44.2-kilowatt electric motor and a 1.49-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion polymer battery. Together, these components deliver a combined 226 horsepower, put to all four wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission and a standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.

For the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid, 2022 brings no changes. However, the Santa Fe Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) model is new for the year, giving the SUV approximately 30 miles of pure electric driving range before switching over to gas-electric hybrid operation and returning 33 mpg in combined driving. Thanks to a more powerful electric motor, the Santa Fe PHEV provides a combined 261 hp and uses an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission to power all four wheels.

Both hybrids are part of a broad lineup of 2022 Santa Fe models, each featuring 5-passenger seating in midsize crossover SUV packaging.

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Price and Release Date - Find the best Hyundai deals!

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid is on sale now and available in Blue, SEL Premium, and Limited trim levels. Prices range from $34,935 to $41,345, including a destination charge of $1,185. The test vehicle arrived in Limited trim with Quartz White paint, a brown leather interior, and carpeted floor mats. The sticker price was $41,940, including destination charges.

If that sounds appealing, be sure to use JDPower.com to find a Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid for sale.

Independent Expert Opinion: Design, Comfort, and Utility - Find the best Hyundai deals!

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited White Front Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Aside from a “Hybrid” badge on the rear liftgate, nothing about the Santa Fe Hybrid’s appearance tells you it is electrified—a good thing, in my view. The Santa Fe is distinctively designed, and enough consumers like it that it doesn’t matter if some people don’t.

Open the driver’s door, and the Santa Fe Hybrid Limited presents an all-black or a rich brown interior. I prefer the brown for the upscale high-contrast look, but the more subdued black interior certainly exhibits some class.

Physical controls for the radio, climate system, transmission, and driving modes live on the center console. They are angled more toward the ceiling than the driver, but black matte-finish surfaces and clear markings ensure visibility. Metallic trim on the transmission buttons helps separate them from the rest of the controls visually.

Comfort impresses, front and rear. In the Santa Fe Hybrid Limited, the driver and front passenger benefit from 8-way power-adjustable seats wrapped in leather and equipped with heating and ventilation. The steering wheel and rear seats are also heated, so the Santa Fe Hybrid Limited is ready for any kind of weather.

Cargo capacity ranges from 36.4 cubic feet behind the rear seat to a maximum of 72.1 cubic feet. The hybrid powertrain components do not infringe upon the available space.

Limited trim includes a hands-free “smart” liftgate that automatically rises after a few seconds when it detects the presence of the key fob. This means you can keep both feet firmly on the ground when your hands are full, but it also means that the liftgate can open when you might not want it to, such as when cleaning the back window while refueling the SUV.

Independent Expert Opinion: Infotainment, Technology, and Safety - Find the best Hyundai deals!

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited Interior Dashboard

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Choosing Limited trim means you’ll equip your new 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid with the top infotainment system plus all the available advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS).

Equipped with a 10.25-inch touchscreen display, the Limited’s infotainment system includes wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio, Blue Link connected services, and a navigation system. Blue Link is complimentary for three years and then requires a paid subscription to continue service. The Limited also includes wireless smartphone charging and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system.

Physical controls on the center console and steering wheel, coupled with the smartphone-style touchscreen display and a responsive and accurate voice-recognition system, make the infotainment system relatively easy to use. It also provides a soothing Sounds of Nature ambient noise system, a Passenger Talk mode that makes it possible for drivers to communicate to passengers without raising their voice, and a Quiet Mode that gives sleeping children a more restful nap.

Additionally, the Santa Fe Hybrid offers numerous other technologies, ranging from a Clean Air ionizer and a digital key system that turns a smartphone into the vehicle’s key to a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation display and an alert system that tells the driver when traffic ahead is moving again, just in case you’re not paying attention. An ultrasonic rear-seat reminder system can detect movement after the driver has left the SUV, activating alerts both at the vehicle (horn, flashing lights) and via the owner’s smartphone.

A long list of practical and sophisticated ADAS is also standard on the Santa Fe Hybrid Limited. Highlights include technology that prevents unsafe turns across traffic, both radar- and camera-based blind-spot warning systems, and a Highway Driving Assist system that provides semi-autonomous travel on highways by pairing the adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering assistance system. All the systems we could safely evaluate work with remarkable precision and refinement.

Crash-test ratings for the Santa Fe are also impressive, with the SUV earning top marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Independent Expert Opinion: Driving the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid - Find the best Hyundai deals!

2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited White Rear Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

With Limited trim, the price walk from a regular Santa Fe to a Santa Fe Hybrid is $1,200 ($1,350 with SEL Premium trim). That’s what you’ll pay up front to enjoy eight extra miles of travel on every gallon of gas, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA says Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid mpg ranges from 32 to 34 in combined driving (Blue trim gets 34). Equivalent standard Santa Fes equipped with AWD are good for 24 mpg.

Is buying a Santa Fe Hybrid worth the money? If you drive 15,000 miles per year and gas is $3 per gallon, you’ll spend $1,875 annually buying 625 gallons of gas for a standard Santa Fe. The hybrid version will need almost 469 gallons to cover the same distance, saving you about $470 each year. After three years, the Santa Fe Hybrid starts saving you hundreds of dollars on an annual basis.

If you’re assuming there is a penalty to be paid in terms of driving dynamics, I can tell you there is not. The turbocharged gas engine helps, as does the conventional 6-speed automatic transmission. Drivers can also choose between Eco, Smart, and Sport driving modes, and the Santa Fe Hybrid Limited rides on sizable 19-inch wheels and tires.

While somewhat soft suspension tuning does allow more body motion than is preferable, the Santa Fe Hybrid is nevertheless pleasing to drive. Thanks to its traditional automatic transmission, with plenty of torque available when you step on the accelerator, the SUV accelerates with enthusiasm and sounds like a regular vehicle. The brake pedal feel is also superior to a typical hybrid, making it easy to bring the Santa Fe Hybrid to drama-free stops.

If there is a source of disappointment here, it pertains to observed fuel economy. On the testing loop, which includes mountain driving, and while switching between the three different driving modes, the Santa Fe Hybrid averaged 28.8 mpg. That’s significantly less than the EPA estimate. And it’s also not as impressive as what I got while driving a Kia Sorento Hybrid.

Independent Expert Opinion of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid - Find the best Hyundai deals!

Long ago, choosing a hybrid powertrain meant you would pay significantly more for a vehicle that was not as rewarding to drive. They often came with unnecessary styling changes, too, modifications that frequently hurt more than they helped.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid demonstrates that the days of paying lots more for a hybrid while accepting a disappointing driving experience and less space for cargo are definitely over. For a nominal amount of money over a gas-only version of the SUV, you can get an electrified model that suffers no significant shortcomings due to its hybrid status.

However, based on my testing, you may need to adjust your expectations regarding real-world fuel economy. And, ultimately, how much you might save in the long run.

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with over 25 years of experience in test-driving vehicles. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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