Toyota finally gets some PHEV competition.
The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe received several exciting powertrain updates as part of a recent facelift. Both gasoline engines were replaced with newer, more powerful units, and Hyundai announced new hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants. The Santa Fe HEV is already available at dealerships, starting at $33,650. This model pairs a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an electric motor to produce 225 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque.
Hyundai hasn't released pricing for the upcoming PHEV variant yet, but the EPA website has published the fuel economy figures for this exciting model. The Santa Fe PHEV achieves 33/32/33 mpg, city/highway/combined, or a combined 76 MPGe when using the engine and electric motor. For comparison, the HEV model is rated at 33/30/32 mpg. In addition, the PHEV's 13.8 kWh battery enables a 31-mile electric-only driving range or 440 miles of total driving range.
It's impossible to definitely call these fuel economy figures good or bad since the Santa Fe PHEV doesn't have any direct competition. The closest rival is the Toyota RAV4 Prime, which sits in a smaller size category. According to the EPA, the RAV4 Prime outmatches the Santa Fe PHEV with 40/36/38 MPG in hybrid mode or 94 MPGe in electric mode. It bests the Santa Fe in range too, with 42 miles of electric power and 600 miles total.
Using the same 1.6-liter engine as the HEV paired with a larger battery, the Santa Fe PHEV produces 261 hp, down on the Toyota's 302-hp rating. But, as we said, this comparison is not apples to apples. The Santa Fe is larger and features a mechanical all-wheel-drive system rather than the Prime's electric drive motor on the rear axle.
The Santa Fe PHEV is expected to arrive at dealerships later this year, likely in Blue and Limited trims, as a 2022 model year vehicle. Pricing should start above the HEV's $33,650 starting MSRP, though the PHEV will qualify for a federal tax credit. This same drivetrain should arrive soon in the Kia Sorento PHEV, which packs three rows of seats.