At the test track, our all-wheel-drive Limited test ute got to 60 mph in a decent 7.5 seconds and sailed through the quarter-mile in 15.7 seconds at 90 mph. These numbers are close to the Santa Fe hybrid's only direct rival, the Toyota Venza, which was a bit slower in both metrics. Don't worry that the gas-electric Santa Fe is 1.5 seconds slower to 60 mph than the more-powerful turbocharged Calligraphy model we last tested. The immediate throttle response of the hybrid's electric motor at slower speeds makes it feel plenty eager in normal driving. Not only that, but the handoff between gasoline and electric power is virtually seamless. Only occasionally did we notice a slight thud as the four-cylinder deactivated while coasting to a stop, indicating that the power source had changed.
The Santa Fe Hybrid's cabin is impressively hushed. We measured a quiet 68 decibels at 70 mph, and the 69-decibel level it produces at full throttle is a substantial 7 decibels quieter than the non-hybrid turbocharged 2.5-liter version. But its ambiance is occasionally disturbed by Michigan's heavily pockmarked asphalt, which the suspension doesn't always dampen out. Otherwise, the handling of our test car on its 19-inch Continental CrossContact LX Sport all-season tires was similar to what we experienced in the regular model. The 0.82 g of grip we measured on the skidpad is adequate, although we'd prefer a shorter stop from 70 mph than the hybrid's 183 feet—some eight feet longer than the standard model. From behind the wheel, there's a feeling of solidity that reminds us of premium SUVs such as the BMW X5, and our test vehicle was decked out with features that bolster that impression.
But a hybrid also needs to deliver on fuel economy, and the Santa Fe's EPA estimates of 33 mpg city and 30 mpg highway are well below the Venza's 40/37 mpg ratings. We tested both vehicles on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test and recorded 31 mpg for the Hyundai and 36 mpg for the Toyota. That said, the Santa Fe hybrid fares notably better than some nonhybrid alternatives, such as the Honda Passport and the aforementioned Santa Fe Calligraphy, both of which managed 27 mpg in the same test. We averaged 28 mpg during the course of our car's loan.