By Mark Borlace
Published: Monday, September 4, 2023
Hybrids are perfect for the motorist who wants the low-emission driving of an electric vehicle (EV) but still requires the security of having a petrol engine to do the longer country trips where access to chargers is a concern.
Hyundai’s solution to this problem in the large SUV market is the new Santa Fe hybrid. The hybrid technology is only offered in the top two Santa Fe models – the Elite and Highlander. We tested the Highlander for this review.
The entire Santa Fe range has Apple CarPlay and Android auto smartphone mirroring, wireless phone charging, alloy wheels, a drive-mode select system and LED headlights.
Interior comforts include third-row air conditioning, power outlets throughout, Nappa leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, and a panoramic glass sunroof.
On top of this, there’s also a rear-view camera, rear-park-distance warning system, remote smart-parking assist, collision-avoidance reversing system and heads-up display.
All of these features make the Santa Fe the best value in the large SUV hybrid market. The Santa Fe range offers seven-seat options, however the Hybrid Highlander can be configured with six seats.
This arrangement includes a pair of second-row captain’s seats, making it easy to walk through to the third row.
The panoramic glass sunroof provides a well-lit and spacious feel, with a motorised sunblind for when shade is required.
Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of some headroom for people sitting in the middle seats.
The power unit
The hybrid system combines a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine and a 44.2kW electric motor, which draws power from a 1.49kWh lithium-ion polymer battery.
The Highlander drives and handles like a smaller SUV on country roads and off road has the four-wheel-drive system delivering power via a newly developed six-speed auto.
The electric motor seems to do most of the work when the car accelerates to 20km/h, contributing to the city-driving fuel savings. It recovers charge back to the battery via regenerative braking as the car decelerates.
One downside of the hybrid is that its towing capacity is reduced to 1650kg compared to the other Santa Fe models at 2.5 tonnes.
A final word
For those who travel remotely, hybrids are a good compromise between EV and petrol vehicles while EV charging infrastructure is being built across South Australia over the next few years.
Hyundai has also considered motorists who are travelling long distances in the Santa Fe, with a full-size spare tyre included to give drivers peace of mind.
|Hyundai Santa Fe Elite Hybrid EV AWD $67,776, Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander Hybrid EV AWD $74,590
|ANCAP safety rating
|Five-year warranty with unlimited kilometres and eight-year/160,000km on the high-voltage battery