2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Review: Made for the Modern Family

If you don’t need a third-row seat, the Santa Fe makes good sense.

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When you don’t need a third-row seat in a family-sized SUV, the 5-passenger 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe makes a strong argument for consumer consideration. With comfortable seating for up to five people and plenty of cargo space, the Santa Fe is more than just an excellent value – it is made for the modern family.

After receiving significant updates for the 2021 model year, the Santa Fe continues for 2022 with several changes. A new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) powertrain option debuts, a new XRT trim package adds a more rugged look to the gas-only SEL Convenience model, and additional safety technology is now standard. The PHEV option makes the Santa Fe one of two midsize SUVs that offers gas-only, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrains. The other SUV is the Santa Fe’s corporate cousin, the Kia Sorento. The slightly smaller Toyota RAV4 also matches the Santa Fe for powertrain variety.

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Hyundai provided a 2022 Santa Fe Hybrid for this review. Trim levels for this version of the SUV include Blue, SEL Premium, and Limited, and prices range from the mid $30,000 to the low $40,000 range. The test vehicle had Limited trim with carpeted floor mats and a price tag of $41,540, including a $1,185 destination charge.

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Get into a 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Limited, and you’ll immediately sense the quality and attention to detail the automaker has put into crafting this cabin. Attractive colors and textures, soft-touch materials, matte-finish switchgear with clear markings, and simple and refined control operation are hallmarks of this SUV’s interior. At night, the controls glow a soothing lavender blue.

Practical storage space on the center console is limited, but there is a large tray underneath it, a shelf embedded into the dashboard forward of the front passenger, and sizable door storage bins. Under the center armrest, you’ll find additional space in which to stash things.

It is easy to get into and out of a Hyundai Santa Fe. An 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat is standard, and with Limited trim, it adds a power thigh support adjuster. The Santa Fe Hybrid Limited also features an 8-way power-adjustable front passenger’s seat. Heated front seat cushions are also standard on all trim levels, while the Limited includes ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel.

With Limited trim, front-seat comfort is excellent. The placement of the center storage bin release button is not ideal, however. It is easy to push it accidentally and release the lid.

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Rear seat comfort is good, and Hyundai equips every Santa Fe Hybrid with manual side window shades, dual USB ports, and rear air conditioning vents. The test vehicle also had a household-style 3-prong electrical outlet and a huge panoramic sunroof that covered most of the roof area.

Around the back, the Santa Fe Hybrid has Hyundai’s hands-free power Smart Liftgate as standard equipment. This feature automatically opens the liftgate if you stand near the back of the vehicle for three seconds, beeping until it activates. The beeping allows you time to step away from the Santa Fe if you’d prefer the liftgate did not open. Or you can manually open the gate or use the button on the key fob if you’re in a hurry.

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Once the liftgate rises, it reveals 36.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat. In addition, there is a generous underfloor storage compartment and a side storage bin on the left hand side. Buttons in the cargo area power-fold the second-row seats to create 72.1 cubic feet of maximum volume.

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Hyundai offers two different infotainment systems in the 2022 Santa Fe Hybrid, and each is desirable in its own way.

The standard system has a smaller 8-inch touchscreen but includes standard wireless support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The upgrade system, standard with SEL Premium and Limited trim, gets a 10.25-inch touchscreen but requires you to tether your phone via the USB port to use the smartphone mirroring technology.

Both systems include standard Blue Link connected services, complete with a complimentary 3-year trial subscription. Wireless smartphone charging is standard, and the larger touchscreen provides navigation and pairs with a standard 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system.

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Kia and, to some degree, the luxury brand Genesis, share Hyundai's underlying infotainment technology. However, Hyundai’s infotainment systems offer much better voice recognition technology, in the opinion of this reviewer. Hyundai also renders the infotainment graphics in a more common blue color, while Kias have an unusual purple-hued color theme.

Other standard interior technologies include a rear-seat Quiet Mode that allows a driver to turn off the rear stereo speakers when children are asleep in the back; a Passenger Talk mode that broadcasts the driver’s voice to the rear passengers through the stereo speakers; and a Sounds of Nature function that plays a soothing soundtrack as you commute home from a stressful day.

Additionally, the 2022 Santa Fe Hybrid has a dual-zone automatic climate control system with a CleanAir ionizer, a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation display, and a Leading Vehicle Departure Alert feature that tells the driver when vehicles ahead are moving again. Hyundai Digital Key is also standard, which can turn your Android-based smartphone into a digital key that allows you to unlock, start, and drive the Santa Fe without using the remote key fob.

But wait, there’s more. Our Limited-trim test vehicle also had a front parking camera, a 360-degree surround-view monitor, and a Blind Spot View Monitor. This latter feature shows the driver what’s in the Santa Fe’s blind spots using cameras, displaying the imagery within the instrumentation.

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If you haven’t guessed by now, Hyundai also loads the 2022 Santa Fe Hybrid with safety technology. In addition to an available ultrasonic rear occupant detection system designed to prevent Santa Fe drivers from leaving children or pets in the SUV, the unusual features of the advanced driving assistance system collection include standard Junction Turn Assist and Safe Exit Assist, and, on upper trims, Highway Driving Assist.

Junction Turn Assist is a collision warning and automatic braking system that prevents unsafe turns at intersections. Safe Exit Assist warns occupants when it is dangerous to open the SUV’s doors and exit the SUV due to traffic approaching from the rear of the vehicle. Highway Driving Assist pairs an adaptive cruise control system with stop-and-go capability and lane-centering assistance technology to provide Level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistance on highways. Note that it is a hands-on Level 2 technology, not a hands-off system.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe a “Top Safety Pick+” safety rating for models built after July 2021, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) assigned the Santa Fe a 5-star overall rating.

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To create the 2022 Santa Fe Hybrid, Hyundai equips the SUV with a turbocharged 1.6-liter gasoline 4-cylinder engine, a 44.2-kilowatt-hour electric motor, and a 270-volt lithium-ion polymer battery. Together, these components yield 226 horsepower. The gas engine supplies 195 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm, and the electric motor delivers the same amount but between 0 rpm and 1,600 rpm.

Unlike many hybrids, the Santa Fe employs a traditional 6-speed automatic transmission instead of a continuously variable transmission (CVT). All-wheel drive is standard and includes a “Lock” function to split the power evenly between the front and rear axles at lower vehicle speeds.

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Drivers can choose between Eco, Sport, Smart, and Snow driving modes. Eco is the default setting, active with each restart of the vehicle. Predictably, the Santa Fe Hybrid feels livelier when driven in Sport mode.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Santa Fe Hybrid Limited is estimated to get 32 mpg in combined driving. Driven in Eco, Sport, and Smart modes at various times during the trip, the test vehicle returned 28.8 mpg on the evaluation loop.

Equipped with 19-inch aluminum wheels, the Santa Fe Hybrid Limited supplied a deft blend of ride quality and handling. However, the compliant suspension and added weight of the hybrid powertrain components conspired to add more body motion than is preferable, especially over undulating pavement and particularly in curves.

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The torque-rich powertrain is gutsy, though, providing impressive acceleration. Also, the traditional automatic lent the Santa Fe Hybrid a “normal” sound and feel as the SUV gathered speed. We did, however, expect better fuel economy from this model. More city driving on level terrain would almost certainly have improved the result because the Santa Fe Hybrid can maintain 35 mph or so running only on electricity.

The braking feel is excellent, another way in which the Santa Fe Hybrid bucks the traditional expectations associated with driving a vehicle with this kind of powertrain. Instead of producing uneven braking and a sticky pedal feel, the brakes are easy to modulate in traffic, and drivers can easily bring the SUV to a smooth, clean stop.


The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid offers something for everyone. This thrifty SUV is roomy, comfortable, and safe. Additionally, it is loaded with value and equally loaded with advanced technology.

If you get the PHEV version, the 2022 Santa Fe is electrically powered for an estimated 31 miles before a gas engine kicks in to extend driving range. Alternatively, Santa Fe models with the 2.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine are downright quick and enjoyable to drive. And with Limited trim, the SUV is genuinely luxurious.

No other vehicle in its class, except for the Kia Sorento, offers the same depth and breadth when it comes to giving the people what they want.

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Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.