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2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid First Look

Consumer interest in fuel-efficient SUVs is on the rise, and one answer from Hyundai is the 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid.

Competing for attention in the two-row SUV hybrid segment are the 2021 Toyota Venza Hybrid, 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, Honda CR-V Hybrid, and Ford Escape Hybrid.

The Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid is a little larger and more refined than most of these rivals and benefits from a recent design and engineering refresh.

As well as the Hybrid, Hyundai offers another partially electrified Santa Fe model in the form of a plug-in hybrid or PHEV.

In the world of five-passenger, two-row SUVs, the Santa Fe has a lot to recommend it. We like the Hyundai’s crisp, slightly sporty exterior design, plus the roomy and well-crafted cabin is comfortable and a little more upscale than most competitors.

The 2021 Santa Fe  Hybrid maintains a capability for modest off-road adventures by providing a standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. This has an advantage over some competing hybrid AWD solutions in that it sends power to the rear wheels mechanically (via a prop shaft), rather than using a separate electric motor at the rear.

This means that more power – up to 50 percent – can be transferred to the rear wheels in slippery conditions, making the Hyundai hybrid more sure-footed, especially when going uphill.

Overall, we like the look and feel of the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid. With its impressive features, this SUV represents excellent value for money, and Hyundai’s outstanding warranty helps bring peace of mind.

What’s New for 2022?

Hyundai’s Santa Fe range is extensively updated for 2021, and the hybrid shares most of the same styling and feature enhancements. The changes include new front and rear designs and interior upgrades.

The redesigned front end takes on a more aggressive persona, with a distinctive wide grille and T-shaped LED lights.

At the back of the vehicle, the LED taillights are connected by a center reflector strip on the tailgate. Another full-length reflector in the bumper area emphasizes the width of the vehicle.

In the engine department, the 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid represents the first application of Hyundai’s new 1.6-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder. The engine is coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission and develops 178 horsepower. Combined with the output from the electric motor, the total powertrain system power comes in at 226 horsepower.

For buyers looking for more power from a partially electrified Hyundai Santa Fe, the 2022 PHEV version is available with 260 horsepower, but its much larger battery and associated hardware adds considerably to the price. Find a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid for sale

What We Like

  • Attractive, bold design
  • AWD traction
  • Well-appointed cabin

What We Don’t

  • Expensive
  • Not as fuel-efficient as rivals

How Much?

Hyundai has yet to reveal pricing for the 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid.

In terms of features, the base trim level for the hybrid will equate approximately to the SEL Convenience grade on the non-hybrid Santa Fe (reviewed separately). The latter is priced at around $32,000.

However, the cost of the extra motors, battery, and associated components will surely add several thousand dollars to the bottom line for buyers of the hybrid.

Available various government and state tax incentives may soften the blow.

Fuel Economy

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid is a tad larger and more comfortable than its primary hybrid rivals, but its fuel economy suffers in comparison.

As rated by the Environmental Protection (EPA), the Hyundai records a combined city and highway miles per gallon (mpg) rating of 32; the Honda CR-V Hybrid manages a combined 38 mpg; the Toyota RAV Hybrid 40 mpg and the Ford Escape 41 mpg.

Standard Features and Options

For 2021, the Santa Fe Hybrid line-up kicks off with the Blue trim, which is equipped with an 8.0-in. center touchscreen and a 12.3-in. digital instrument cluster. Instead of a conventional engine RPM display, the hybrid cluster presents a power meter.

There is an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats and door mirrors, a hands-free power-operated tailgate and second-row folding seats that have a power release control.

The Hybrid infotainment system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phones.

The Hybrid Blue grades are shod with 18-in. alloy wheels.

At the SEL Premium trim level, the 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid comes with a panoramic sunroof, leather-trimmed seats, heated and cooled front seats, a 10.25-in center navigation touchscreen, and a premium audio system.

Topping the hybrid range is the Limited trim, which adds 19-in. wheels, heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, remote parking assist, parking distance warning and surround view with blind-spot view monitor.


Hyundai does not skimp with standard safety features that come as part of its ‘Smart Sense’ suite. This impressive set of driver aids includes blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, forward collision assist, pedestrian detection, along lane keeping and lane following assist.

Behind the Wheel

We are fans of the driving character of the latest Santa Fe models and expect the hybrid versions to display similar road manners. Like most SUVs, the Hyundai Santa Fe is designed to feel steady and secure at the wheel, with the emphasis on ride comfort rather than handling prowess.

One dynamic element in the Hyundai’s favor versus rival hybrid SUVs is its more robust AWD capability, a clear advantage in inclement weather.

Check back soon for an update on the 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid driving experience.

Other Cars To Consider

2021 Toyota RAV4 HybridNot as polished inside as the Hyundai hybrid, the Toyota is notably more frugal.

2021 Ford Escape HybridThe Ford hybrid outpoints its rivals in terms of fuel economy.

2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid – Smaller than the Santa Fe, but nicely finished inside and fuel-efficient, the Honda hybrid is a worthy alternative.

Autotrader Advice

Our recommendation would be the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid SEL Premium trim. It’s cheaper than the Limited, but still provides most of the desirable features. Find a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid for sale

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