PHEV Coming Late 2021
(Updated to add correct Santa Fe Hybrid trim levels.)
The Santa Fe been around for two decades, but the 2021 model year marks the first time Hyundai will be offering a hybrid version of its popular mid-size crossover.
The 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid is also the first Hyundai crossover to get a hybrid drive system.
[A 3-min. read.]
With it, the midsize, non-luxury hybrid crossover segment grows by 33 percent – to a total of four offerings.
It is likely that the 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid will be close to the top of the pack in fuel efficiency. Official EPA numbers haven’t been released, and Hyundai isn’t issuing its own estimates yet, but the entire hybrid powertrain was developed with fuel efficiency at the top of the list.
Corporate stablemate Kia’s Sorento Hybrid mid-size crossover – a close cousin of the Santa Fa – was recently EPA-certified at an estimated 37 mpg in combined city and highway testing.
The Sorento is front-wheel drive only while the Santa Fe Hybrid will come only with all-wheel drive, but in most instances where both all-wheel and front-wheel variants of a particular model are available, there’s typically a drop of one or two miles per gallon with AWD.
Among the direct competitors with all-wheel drive, the 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid AWD is rated at 35 mpg combined.
When it hits showrooms early next year, the Santa Fe Hybrid will compete most directly with, the Sorento Hybrid, Highlander Hybrid and, in far distant fourth place as far as fuel efficiency goes, the 23 mpg (combined) Ford Explorer Hybrid.
Plug-in On Tap
A plug-in hybrid variant of the Santa Fe will come toward the end of 2021.
Expect it to be more powerful and more efficient – as is the case with the compact Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid
Outside, the Santa Fe lineup gets a late-cycle freshening for 2021 (the current, fourth-generation Santa Fe was introduced in 2018). That includes new wheel designs, a new grille, new front and rear fascia, and new headlamp and taillight designs.
Inside, there’s a new console and center stack and an 8-inch infotainment screen is standard, replacing the present 7-inch display. A 10.25-inch touchscreen is optional on some trims.
With the addition of the hybrid variant, The Santa Fe also gets a new, stiffer body structure and more powerful braking system.
There will be four Santa Fe trim levels for 2021 including a new top-of-the-line “Calligraphy” trim that comes standard with all-wheel drive. Other trim levels are SE, SEL and Limited. The SEL trim will come with two optional packages – Convenience and Premium..
The hybrid will be available with the SEL and the Limited trims.
The hybrid system itself mates a 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an electric starter-generator and electric drive motor.
A 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery provides juice for the drive motor and a hybrid-specific six-speed automatic transmission helps get power to the wheels.
Combined system output is rated by Hyundai at 225 horsepower with peak torque of 195 pound-feet. The turbocharged gas engine by itself is rated at 178 horsepower.
(On the gas-only side, the base Santa Fe engine will be a 2.5-liter inline-four rated at 191 hp and 181 lb.-ft. An optional (standard on the Limited and Calligraphy trims) turbocharged 2.5-liter pumps it up to 277 hp and 311 lb.-ft.)
AWD a Hybrid Standard
The new hybrid Santa Fe will be offered only with all-wheel drive, an often pricey option with the competitors – including the gas-only Santa Fe.
The AWD system is Hyundai’s HTRAC, with uses an electronically controlled clutch system to apportion torque between front and rear wheels and has several driver-selectable operating modes that regulate various power distribution, pedal responsiveness, shift point and stability and suspension settings.
Pricing – TK
As is the norm with automakers, Hyundai won’t be releasing pricing until much closer to the Santa Fe Hybrid on-sale date.
With standard AWD and a complex hybrid drivetrain, we’d expect there to be a $3,000 or greater gap between the 2021hybrid trim levels and their gas-only counterparts.