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Review of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe: Mid-Size Crossover SUV Offering Excellent Performance

Image Source: Gabriel Nica / Shutterstock

The intelligently designed 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe excels when equipped with a hybrid setup, however, the Calligraphy models tempt us with their luxurious features. Positioned in the mid-size crossover SUV segment, the Santa Fe accommodates five passengers, a fuel-efficient Hybrid variant, and a turbo-4 Calligraphy option. Its rivals encompass models like the similar Kia Sorento, Honda Passport, Nissan Murano, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. For 2022, a plug-in hybrid variant has been introduced, along with a new XRT trim level that is now part of the SE, SEL, Limited, and Calligraphy lineup.

Featuring a conventional SUV body, the Santa Fe elevates its design with sharp lines and stylish curves. The split grille, accompanied by textured panels, is flanked by split headlights in a distinctive T-shaped design situated at the front end. This bold styling is accentuated by metallic bands that run along the lower front fascia. The exterior is dynamic, with prominent cut lines encircling the wheel wells and intricate side sculpting. The new XRT version offers a more subdued appearance with dark accents and wheels.

While we have not yet tested a base model, we have experienced the 191-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission in other vehicles. We anticipate a respectable 0-60 mph acceleration time in the mid-eight-second range for this economical option. More powerful is Hyundai’s 277-hp 2.5-liter turbo-4 engine, producing 311 lb-ft of torque and paired with a dual-clutch 8-speed automatic gearbox. This engine delivers swift responses to throttle inputs, particularly in Sport mode, where it offers quick and precise gear shifts, albeit occasionally less refined during low-speed changes.

Weighing around 4,000 lbs, the Santa Fe benefits from the turbo-4 engine to handle its weight and is particularly useful for towing up to its maximum capacity of 3,500 lbs. While off-roading may not be its forte, the Santa Fe boasts 8.2 inches of ground clearance, all-weather traction, and capability to navigate snow-covered terrain, which will be appreciated by many drivers.

Equipped with front strut and rear multi-link suspension, in combination with electric power steering, the Santa Fe delivers predictable handling with a good balance. It maintains composure, even on models fitted with 19-inch wheels, effectively absorbing bumps and ruts on the road, albeit with some suspension noise. The Santa Fe excels at smoothing out long stretches of uneven pavement on the highway and remains composed when executing quick steering maneuvers.

Opting for the Santa Fe Hybrid introduces two electric motors, a 1.49-kwh battery pack, and a 1.6-liter turbo-4 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with standard all-wheel drive. While not as potent as the turbo-4 variant, we prefer this version over the base model due to its similar power output (net 226 hp, offset by additional battery weight) and seamless power delivery. The Santa Fe Hybrid offers sufficient acceleration, light and responsive steering, and a comfortable ride despite the added weight.

The Plug-In Hybrid model further enhances fuel efficiency, allowing for electric-only driving up to 31 miles and offering a hybrid mode that combines battery and engine power. Equipped with drive modes and standard all-wheel drive, the PHEV Santa Fe compromises on fuel economy slightly but eases the energy-saving burden on the plug-in model. Drivers may notice increased tire and suspension noise, along with a slightly firmer ride due to the suspension tuning tailored to accommodate the PHEV’s heavier weight.

While the hybrid variants stand out, the base models are also EPA-approved. Among the four available powertrains, the Santa Fe delivers impressive efficiency with a couple of standout options. The base inline-4 variant achieves EPA ratings of 25 mpg city, 28 highway, and 26 combined with front-wheel drive, which dip slightly to 22/25/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. In comparison, the turbo-4 edition returns EPA ratings of 22/28/25 mpg and 21/28/24 mpg with front- or all-wheel drive. The Hybrid Blue models exceed in economy, securing EPA ratings of 36/31/34 mpg while the higher-spec versions achieve 33/30/32 mpg. The plug-in hybrid model is rated at 76 MPGe, 33 mpg combined, and offers a 31-mile electric range.

With exceptional crash-test scores, the Santa Fe earns recognition as one of the safest SUVs available. The IIHS bestows the Santa Fe with its Top Safety Pick+ award, even in its base configuration, with headlights rated as “Acceptable,” upgraded to “Good” with LED units. NHTSA tests reveal stellar performance, with five-star ratings across various categories, except for a four-star rating for rollover resistance. All Santa Fe models come standard with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, active lane control, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Optional safety features include blind-spot steering assist, parking sensors, a surround-view camera system, and blind-spot cameras that project visual information in the gauge cluster.

Inside the Santa Fe, the cabin exudes sophistication, showcasing a tiered dashboard topped by an 8.0- or 10.3-inch touchscreen display. An electronic gear shifter adorns the center console, surrounded by an array of switches and buttons integrated within a control pad and pod-shaped vents. Adding upscale features such as a 12.3-inch digital cluster, ambient lighting, nappa leather upholstery, and soft-touch trim elevates the Santa Fe to near Genesis levels of luxury – akin to the standing of a Lexus in the Hyundai lineup. We are impressed by the build quality in Limited and Calligraphy trim levels. Although the turbo-4 engine emits a noticeable growl, the cabin ambiance is enhanced by thicker glass and premium materials that help suppress road noise. Base models feature more black plastic and durable fabric upholstery, accompanied by a slightly higher level of tire noise.

The Santa Fe surrounds its occupants with a spacious five-seat interior and generous cargo capacity. Riding on a 108.9-inch wheelbase, the 188.4-inch-long Santa Fe offers ample space that appeals to sedan drivers transitioning to SUVs. The front seats in higher-spec models provide exceptional comfort with power adjustments starting from the SEL trim level and above. Standard cloth-covered seats can be upgraded to include heating, cooling, and power adjustments for the front passenger.

The Santa Fe incorporates numerous storage compartments for small items, with a covered bin located ahead of the shifter and deep cupholders flanked by a key-sized slot. The second row comfortably accommodates three passengers, especially if the middle seat occupant is of medium build. Ample headroom and legroom cater to tall individuals, further enhanced by the available panoramic sunroof. While lacking the sliding functionality of the Kia Sorento’s second row, the Santa Fe offers a generous 41.7 inches of legroom for rear passengers. Cargo space measures at 36.4 cubic feet, expanding to 72.1 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down, complemented by a shallow storage compartment beneath the cargo area.

With its generous array of equipment and comprehensive warranty coverage, the Santa Fe nearly perfects its offering. Hyundai offers the Santa Fe in SE, SEL, XRT, Limited, and Calligraphy trims, each equipped with abundant standard features and advanced infotainment technology. Starting from $28,425, the Santa Fe SE includes 18-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, cloth upholstery, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The option for all-wheel drive comes with a $1,700 premium. Hyundai’s exceptional 5-year/60,000-mile warranty also includes 3 years or 36,000 miles of scheduled maintenance.

Stepping up to the $30,225 Santa Fe SEL, available with or without all-wheel drive, adds an 8-way power adjustable driver seat, remote start, wireless smartphone charging, heated front seats, and satellite radio. An optional package offers a power tailgate, leather upholstery, a 12.3-inch digital display, a Harman Kardon audio system with 12 speakers, a power front passenger seat, a 10.3-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a panoramic sunroof. Priced at around $36,000, this package represents outstanding value. The Santa Fe XRT at $33,525 offers distinctive dark exterior trim but may not appeal to all preferences.

For a premium experience, the $40,185 Santa Fe Limited introduces 19-inch wheels, parking sensors, cooled front seats, enhanced LED headlights, heated rear seats, and a surround-view camera system. Topping the range is the $42,185 Santa Fe Calligraphy, boasting ambient lighting, quilted nappa leather upholstery, a head-up display, and 20-inch wheels. The highest-priced model is the $46,545 Santa Fe Limited plug-in hybrid.

The Santa Fe Hybrid Blue starts at $34,935 and is available in SEL Premium and Limited trims. The Santa Fe Plug-In Hybrid carries a starting price of $41,245 and is exclusively sold in California and states that comply with its plug-in vehicle regulations, including Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Although the Hyundai Santa Fe has a longstanding presence in the market, the 2022 model stands out with exceptional value, efficient powertrain options, and advanced technology. Positioned as a top contender in its segment, the Santa Fe exceeds expectations thanks to its competitive pricing, making it a worthwhile consideration for discerning buyers.

Image Source: Gabriel Nica / Shutterstock

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