Hyundai Santa Fe hybrid revealed; plug-in hybrid confirmed for early-2021 [Update]

This month Hyundai issued information on the hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants of the Santa Fe, the latter to go on sale in early-2021 in the European market. Today we have spy shots of the Santa Fe plug-in hybrid spotted with camouflage at a charging station in South Korea, courtesy TheKoreanCarBlog. The plug-in hybrid is spotted featuring unique alloy wheel design.

With the new Santa Fe, Hyundai’s whole SUV line-up is now accessible with electrified versions that range from 48V mild hybrid to fuel cell versions. The new Santa Fe is longer, wider and taller than the previous model. The defining feature at the front of the car is the wide grille with a signature geometric pattern that covers the complete width with integrated headlamps and split DRLs. Inside, the Santa Fe gets a button rich centre console and a floating infotainment system.


The hybrid Santa Fe that will be available at launch combines a 1.6-litre T-GDi (turbo gasoline direct injection) ‘Smartstream’ engine and a 44.2 kW electric motor supplied by a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, and comes in two-wheel or four-wheel drive. The system output stands at 230 PS and 350 Nm torque. The plug-in hybrid Santa Fe employs the same 1.6-litre T-GDi engine paired with a powerful 66.9 kW electric motor drawing supply from a 13.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery. This variant is standard with with four-wheel drive and has a total power output is 265 PS and 350 Nm.

Hyundai 1.6 Turbo Hybrid engine

Both hybrid variants utilize the newly-developed 6-speed automatic transmission (6AT) which Hyundai says is superior in transmission and fuel efficiency.

The battery pack is placed under the passenger seat in the hybrid variant and under the driver and passenger seats in the plug-in hybrid variant, not affecting the cabin or luggage space. Thanks to the updated platform, the new Santa Fe comes with an additional 3 cm of second-row leg room and additional 4 cm of third-row leg room. Trunk capacity has been increased by 9 litres for a total capacity of 634 litres. The capacity of the 7-seater version has been improved by 24 litres for a 571 litres total capacity.

Terrain Mode selector

The new Santa Fe continues to offer the HTRAC four-wheel drive technology that is intended to enable agile handling and better torque application depending on wheel grip and speed of the car.

The 2021 Santa Fe launches with a Terrain Mode selector for the first time. The control knob located in the centre console switches between different drive modes such as sand, snow, mud, eco, sport and comfort. An additional option, smart driving mode, means the car automatically recognizes the driving style and selects a mode suitably. Hyundai says the optimized system results in improved fuel efficiency, stability and acceleration.

Added connectivity

Besides a new digital cluster and AVN widescreen, the new Santa Fe offers the Hyundai Bluelink telematics and connected car services. Using the Bluelink app, drivers can locate their SUV, lock and unlock doors remotely, or view vehicle status like fuel level. Hyundai LIVE Services add parking updates, fuel station locations including prices, real-time traffic information as well as weather info. Destinations can be sent from the app to the in-car navigation system. If drivers have to park their car within a .2 to 2 km radius from the destination, Last Mile Navigation can resume guidance in the Bluelink app via the driver’s smartphone.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe interior

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which now comes wirelessly in combination with Display Audio, allow customers to mirror the functionality of the iOS and Android smartphones. The wireless charging mat in the centre console is improved, allowing faster recharging with up to 15 watts. A USB charging port is now available for rear seat passengers. Hyundai says more personalisation is possible through the intelligent voice recognition system and thanks to the shift by wire, which employs buttons in place of knobs, makes it simpler to select gears.

Improved aero & safety

The new Santa Fe uses what Hyundai calls its “all-new third-generation Hyundai vehicle platform” that leads to key improvements in performance and safety. Features mentioned by Hyundai include a multiple inlet air-curtain which improves the flow field around the wheels. Thanks to an efficient undercover config of the new platform, the aerodynamic force under the SUV has been decreased significantly. By lowering the position of heavy equipment, the vehicle stability is enhanced and lowers the centre of gravity.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid side

The fixed points for the steering arms are brought closer to the middle of the front wheels, allowing for more agile handling. Meanwhile, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) performance is bettered using reinforced sound-absorbing systems in vibration-sensitive parts.

Collision safety is significantly improved in the incoming model, says Hyundai, thanks to the multi-load path structure, hot stamping, and the integration of a super high-tensile steel plate, for better impact absorption in the event of a collision while minimising the deformation of the passenger space.

For the first time, the new Santa Fe features the Highway Driving Assist (HDA), that is a combination of Lane Following Assist and Smart Cruise Control, using sensors and map data for safe operation as well as to automatically adjust speed in limited environments. A button on the steering wheel can activate HDA. Another new feature is the Reverse Parking Collision-Avoidance Assist (PCA) which uses rear view camera and rear ultrasonic sensors to spot obstacles when reversing, sounding an alert and applying the brakes, if necessary, to avoid an accident.

Hyundai aspires to be a provider of a complete range of vehicles and could consider bringing back the Santa Fe with this updated model once the Indian economy recovers from the throes of COVID-19.