Crossover & Midsize

Skip the Standard 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe, Wait for the Hybrid

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe made its official debut earlier this week with Palisade looks and plenty of new features. However, not all of the Santa Fe‘s trim levels will be available on launch day. According to Hyundai, the hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions will join the lineup in 2021. Hyundai has already had great success with the Sonata Hybrid, sitting as one of the most fuel-efficient cars in its class. As a result, buyers and their wallets are better off waiting for the upcoming Santa Fe Hybrid.

The standard Hyundai Santa Fe offers two four-cylinder engines

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe is the brand's newest SUV.
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe | Hyundai

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe offers two engine options across its various trim levels. The base powertrain is a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. The range-topping option is a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The turbo-four produces 277 hp and 311 ft-lb of torque. While the base engine gets a standard eight-speed automatic transmission, the powerful turbo model benefits from an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

In terms of fuel economy, the naturally aspirated powertrain is capable of an average of 26 mpg with traction at the front and 24 mpg with all-wheel-drive. Similarly, the turbocharged engine is capable of an average of 25 mpg with FWD and 24 mpg with AWD. The benefit between the two powertrains is that buyers can opt for the more powerful one without losing out in fuel efficiency. Despite this, both engines fall significantly short of the Sonata Hybrid’s 52 mpg average.

The Sonata hybrid’s success will trickle into the Santa Fe

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe is the brand's newest SUV.
2021 Hyundai Santa Fe | Hyundai

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The Hyundai Santa Fe is the brand’s first hybrid SUV, but not their first hybrid model. With the release of the newest generation of the Sonata, Hyundai released a hybrid version with great fuel-efficiency ratings. The eco-friendly Sonata is capable of consuming 54 mpg on the highway and 50 mpg in the city.

The 2021 Santa Fe hybrid will offer a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine along with an electric motor. Unlike the standard Santa Fe, the hybrid version benefits from a uniquely tuned six-speed automatic transmission. According to Hyundai, the transmission is tuned specifically for use in a hybrid vehicle to maximize efficiency. The Santa Fe hybrid will come standard with an HTRAC all-wheel-drive system.

Hyundai Logo | Karol Serewis / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

While the turbocharged engine develops a sturdy 178 hp, the addition of the electric motor bumps the total output to 225 hp. The result is that while there will be a noticeable gain in efficiency, there won’t be a significant drop in performance. Since the 2021 Santa Fe Hybrid isn’t quite ready for release, official efficiency estimates are not available. However, if the Sonata is anything to go by, the Santa Fe hybrid is sure to impress.

A plug-in hybrid version will arrive in late 2021

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe is the brand's newest SUV.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe | Hyundai

If the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid isn’t eco-friendly enough, the Korean carmaker will offer a plug-in hybrid version. While Hyundai has provided plenty of details for the hybrid model, the plug-in hybrid is slightly more elusive. As far as official information goes, the plug-in Santa Fe will arrive toward the end of 2021.

If other PHEVs are anything to go by, the Santa Fe will most likely utilize the powertrain of the hybrid version. Unlike the hybrid, however, the plug-in version will most likely feature a decently sized battery pack and a charging port. Since most PHEVs offer it, expect the Santa Fe to be capable of driving purely off its batteries, albeit over short distances.

For now, the standard Santa Fe goes on sale toward the end of 2020 with the hybrid arriving in the first quarter of 2021.