Anthony on Autos: 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV Limited AWD

Anthony on Autos: 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV Limited AWD

by Anthony Fongaro  - Photos via Hyundai -  12/10/2023

Lifespans of vehicles can be between six to eight years before a redesign. Hyundai’s Santa Fe has been around for six years, so you’d think it is time for a redesign. Well…good news! The 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe is bigger, boxier, and has more tech. So why am I reviewing the “last-gen” Hyundai Santa Fe? Simple: it’s still available and there is a possibility of discounts. There are a few different engine combinations, and this Santa Fe is a PHEV Limited AWD. How does the current Santa Fe fair to the newer competition?

Since this has been around for a long time, the Santa Fe PHEV is a little bland in the parking lot. At the front are slanted headlights along with chrome trim under the decently proportioned grille. This Santa Fe was painted Shimmering Silver with 19-inch wheels. You’ll find roof rails along with a panoramic roof. There are more silver accent pieces around the windows and under the doors. Rearend lights connect to a light bar with badging for Hyundai, Santa Fe, and hybrid logos. It’s nothing in-offensive, but nothing stylish.

I still like the interior of the Santa Fe. There are a plethora of buttons that make basic functions that much easier. This vehicle had a black interior which I would recommend changing to a beige or brown interior. Steering controls contain buttons for the digital dials, infotainment system, and media controls. The digital dials are bright and semi-customizable. When you use the turn indicators, there’s a display in the dials for your blind spot. Of course, use your mirrors, but this is an excellent feature Hyundai has. 

Seats are quite comfortable, with Limited models getting heated and ventilated front seats. There’s also a heated steering wheel. Second-row passengers also get heated seats. The infotainment size is well-proportioned for the size of the cabin with USB outlets and wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Looking at the center stack, there’s a cascading amount of buttons. Climate control buttons are simple to use, along with media controls. Hyundai still has the push button shifter which takes a few times to get used to. A large swivel wheel contains the drive modes which are Smart, Sport, Snow, and Eco. You can also press the center button to lock the differential. 

Second-row chairs are captain chairs and are comfortable. Once again, there are a few USB ports and a good amount of space. Being larger than the Tuscon, there’s plenty of trunk space. The Limited’s panoramic sunroof gives the cabin plenty of light without impeding on headspace. This may be an older interior, but it still works plenty fine. All the seats are comfortable and there are manual sunshades for second-row passenger windows. How much better the new Santa Fe will be? Not sure, but tests have shown a fully-redesigned interior. 

Anthony on Autos: 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV Limited AWD

Plug-in hybrids are complicated, and the Santa Fe PHEV is no exception. Powering the PHEV is a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four producing 178 horsepower and 195 lf-ft. An AC motor produces an additional 90 horsepower and 224 lb-ft. Combined, this makes 261 horsepower and 224 lb-ft. With a six-speed automatic and AWD, the Santa Fe PHEV goes from 0-60 MPH in 7.5 seconds. Oddly, that’s the same 0-60 as the regular hybrid. Observed MPG was around 26-28 MPG, nothing too special.

Driving the Santa Fe PHEV wasn't the smoothest. EV mode is fine and has 30 miles of range but when the gas engine kicks in, things become different. The PHEV struggles to seamlessly blend the throttle which doesn’t help with a brake pedal with a large dead-spot. You only feel the bite point in the middle of the pedal. Handling is on the soft point with body lean. Once on the road, the Santa Fe PHEV is very easy to use. There are not a lot of times when input from controls makes the driver look away from the road. It also helps that Hyundai’s safety suite has adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring with the cameras in the dials, and a 360-degree camera. 

Limited models are fully loaded. A Harman Kardon audio system comes as standard with great treble and base. Other features include Hyundai’s safety features, panoramic roof, heated front and rear seats, and ventilated front seats. Total pricing is around $49,000. That’s not too expensive for a PHEV, but it’s about $5,000 to $10,000 more than the hybrid. Santa Fe Hybrids start at around $36,000 and PHEVs start at $42,000. 

I would skip the PHEV and go for the hybrid. It gets 28 MPG, has the same 0-60 MPH as the PHEV, and has pretty much all the features. The Santa Fe hybrid I would go with is the Limited since it comes in fully loaded at $42,000. My biggest question: wait for the next generation to come out in a few months, or get this “last-generation one”? Wait. When the new one comes out, consumers may want the older vehicle due to the new boxy style. There may be discounts later down the road. Like I said, skip the PHEV and go for the hybrid. It’s more cost-effective and has all the technology you’d want.