There will be a hybrid version of the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, but it won’t arrive for a few years yet.
A hybrid-powered petrol-electric version of the Santa Fe is the glaring omission from the brand’s all-new model range, which was showcased in Korea last week with the choice of a couple of petrol engines (2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder, 2.4-litre non-turbo four-cylinder, 3.5-litre V6) and two diesels (2.0- and 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel).
“We will have the hybrid version for the facelift,” said Jong Hoon Chae, head of Hyundai America’s product planning, before he attempted to temper his words a little further. “We’re still considering to have hybrid, we're still studying.”
By saying "for the facelift", the product planning boss was implying that the hybrid version is at least two, maybe three, years away. But the focus is clear - this will be a model developed for markets such as the US, where the Santa Fe is the key performer for Hyundai.
Hybrid drivetrains are prevalent in the large SUV segment, particularly in the US. There’s the Nissan Pathfinder hybrid (which we also get here), Toyota Highlander Hybrid (it’s the Kluger in petrol-electric form: we don’t get it), and the Acura MDX (not sold here). The biggest Subaru of them all, the new Ascent model - again, confined to the US market - will have a plug-in hybrid option soon, too.
It isn’t clear what drivetrain will be used in the Santa Fe hybrid, nor whether it will be a simpler series hybrid set-up or a plug-in system.
Hyundai’s Sonata mid-size sedan has both options: the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid use a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (115kW/190Nm) that is paired to an electric motor (40kW/205Nm in the regular hybrid, 50kW/205Nm in the plug-in version). The plug-in version of the Sonata is said to offer about 43 kilometres of electric range.
What’s also unknown is whether the Santa Fe hybrid model will have seven seats or not - it is possible that in the hybrid version the cargo area may need to accommodate batteries rather than spare seats.
Hyundai Australia has confirmed it is interested in the Santa Fe Hybrid model when it eventually launches - provided it is made in right-hand drive. At this stage, the company’s local arm has confirmed a 2.2-litre diesel for our market, and the 2.4-litre petrol is also likely.
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