“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” goes a famous adage. It’s a bit of wisdom Hyundai seems content to follow. The 2022 model of its Santa Fe midsize SUV is relatively unchanged from the 2021 version. Given its solid sales and accolades, there’s not a whole lot of room for improvement. In fact, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe just won a top safety award that highlights its practicality and dependability.
A look at the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe base model starts at $27,200, but its more expensive variants provide the most notable differences from the 2021 Santa Fe. There’s a new XRT trim and a plug-in hybrid option. However, that’s really where the differences end.
As with the 2021 model year, the 2022 model sports a bold exterior resembling a more upscale vehicle. The baseline SE model and the SEL and XRT trims are powered by a 2.5-liter I-4 engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This combination generates 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. Those with FWD drivetrains get 22/25 mpg city/highway, while those with AWD have a fuel economy of 25/28 mpg city/highway. The higher Santa Fe Limited and Santa Fe Calligraphy trims come with a 2.5-liter turbo I-4 engine which gets a more robust 281 horsepower along with 311 lb-ft of torque. Both FWD and AWD models can get about 28 mpg on the highway, though the former gets 21 mpg in the city while the latter gets 22 mpg.
The Santa Fe is reasonably roomy, with 44.1 inches worth of legroom in the first row and 41.7 inches in the second. In this regard, it’s more spacious than its key competitors, the Ford Edge, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, and Subaru Forester. However, in terms of cargo space, the Santa Fe’s 36.4 cubic feet (72.1 with the back row folded down) falls in the middle of the pack. The Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 have less, while the larger Subaru Forester and Ford Edge have more.
Each Santa Fe SE comes with an 8-inch touchscreen compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as wireless charging and Hyundai’s Blue Link services. Higher trims can get you a 10.3-inch or 12.3-inch display with navigation and a 12-speaker sound system. However, with the Santa Fe, that’s not where the technology features stop. Hyundai has invested a lot into making sure that the Santa Fe is one of the safest vehicles on the road, in part through its Hyundai SmartSense system.
The model’s safety features
From the SE to the Calligraphy, each Santa Fe trim comes with Hyundai SmartSense, a package of advanced safety features for which many automakers make customers pay more. These include automated emergency braking, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, and driver attention warning. With all these features, drivers can significantly reduce their risk of getting into an accident.
With all these features, it’s no surprise that the 2021 Santa Fe was awarded a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as a Top Safety Pick recommendation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). IIHS specifically granted this distinction to the Limited and Calligraphy models equipped with optional LED headlights, though all trims received IIHS’ highest rating in its six crashworthiness tests.
It’s also little wonder that the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe earned IIHS‘ highest honor: the Top Safety Pick+ distinction. It did not earn this honor in 2021 because the standard headlights on some 2021 models did not meet IIHS’ minimum criteria for an “Acceptable” or “Good” ranking. However, Hyundai made the necessary improvements to its headlight options for the 2022 model to win this award.
How the Hyundai Santa Fe stacks up in terms of safety
As per IIHS, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe is one of eight midsize SUVs that have earned the Top Safety Pick+ designation. Major publications have also noted its safety and practicality. For example, U.S. News and World Report ranked the 2021 Santa Fe eighth out of its 14 safest midsize SUVs on the road. Furthermore, Kelley Blue Book lists the 2022 model as second out of 11. However, both lists include both two-row and three-row SUVs.
The only two-row SUV ranked higher than the Santa Fe on either list is the Ford Edge. However, the 2022 Edge did not earn a Top Safety Pick+ distinction. The only other two-row SUV that earned IIHS’ top award is the 2022 Nissan Murano. However, at a starting price of nearly $6,000 more, fewer powertrain options, less space, and a slightly weaker fuel economy, the Santa Fe is the better choice.
The Hyundai Santa Fe is hard to beat, given how well-rounded and practical it is. In fact, if you’re looking for a two-row SUV, the 2022 Santa Fe may be the safest one on the road.
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