2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Review: Can This Compact SUV Stand Up to the Family Challenge?

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid has been updated with fresh, modern features. But can this compact SUV handle a week of teens, camping and family? We found out.

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Review

The true challenge: A week of camping with–and feeding–teenage boys.

Loading the cargo space to the brim with enough food to feed 20+ people for a two days, plus the gear our teenage son needed for his camping trip, I had to wonder: will the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid midsize SUV stand up to the challenge? But the Santa Fe Hybrid, which has a starting price of about $34K and gets about 34MPG, was a champ all week long. Space enough, yes, but also, very good fuel efficiency, plenty of power, a comfortable ride and top-drawer technology were at hand all week long.

This mid-size, 2-row SUV has undergone significant changes for the 2023 model year, including a refreshed exterior, updated interior, and new technology features. These updates bridge the gap between the last full redesign in 2019 and an expected full makeover for the 2024 model year. And, they give the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe a sleek look, with a modern grille and sharp lines that give it a sporty appeal. It’s not quite as chiseled as say a Pathfinder or Passport – it’s more smooth and sophisticated. The redesigned taillights and bumper add to the overall aesthetic appeal of the car.

Related: Ask the Car Chick: Which are the Best Cars for a Teen, and Which Mid-Sized SUV Is the Best Family Car?

Crazy Awesome Hidden Storage Under The Cargo Area'S Floor. Photo By Erica Mueller

Crazy awesome hidden storage under the cargo area’s floor. Photo: Erica Mueller

Fun Features We Enjoyed in the Santa Fe

The Santa Fe’s interior is spacious, with plenty of room for passengers and cargo. The infotainment system is easy to use, lickety-split fast (I was seriously impressed with the responsiveness of the system!), and comes standard with a 10.25-inch touchscreen display.

But I think my favorite technology feature was the wireless charger, which is vertical. You drop your phone into a little slot and your phone is held upright and against the charger thanks to a spring-loaded flap. I didn’t have to worry about my phone sliding around and not sitting exactly where it should on a flat surface.

I also liked the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster or driver’s display and those fancy little side-view cameras that turn on and display video in the dash when you turn your turn signals on. No more hitting the curbs or near-misses thanks to blind spots when changing lanes.

A feature we loved but almost missed is the under-floor cargo space. I’ve seen a few SUVs with a little cubby under the cargo floor, but the Santa Fe has 3 really good-sized compartments large enough to hold cases of sports drinks and sodas. Seriously impressive and great for all those things you need to keep in the car but don’t want floating around, like your reusable shopping bags, jumper cables or first-aid kit.

We also noted that the Santa Fe has a “purse cubby” under the front console. I found it a bit small for my handbag and hard to access while my seat was in the driving position, but it was great for smaller things like books, snacks, and personal items.

2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Review

The on-dash screen grew on me, and I loved the wireless charging and 3rd drink holder. Photo: Erica Mueller

Under the Hood of the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid

This SUV has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that combine to produce 225 horsepower, which is quite a bit more than the gas-only Hyundai Santa Fe offers. I enjoyed the torque boost from the electric engine when it came time to pass slow moving vehicles. This hybrid SUV has an estimated fuel economy of 34 MPG Combined, 36 City/31 Highway.

Related: 2023 Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy: This Upscale, Affordable 3-Row SUV Has Me Smitten

Roomy Back Seats In The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid

Super roomy and comfortable back seats. Photo: Erica Mueller

What Kind of Safety Features Can You Expect?

All of them. The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid comes with forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning. The model we drove felt like it wanted to drive itself sometimes and with all the lane departure and lane keep assist and collision prevention on board I felt like maybe it could and I let it try for about 4 seconds. The vehicle quickly reminded me to put my hands back on the wheel. Yes ma’am!

The Santa Fe Hybrid comes standard with all-wheel-drive, making it a great first vehicle for young drivers as well as a good option for those who live in cold or wet climates where a little extra traction goes a long way.

Related: Review: The 2023 Honda Passport TrailSport is Built To Handle All Your Adventures

All The Cargo Space!

This one has so much cargo space. That’s a huge guitar case and it looks small in the Santa Fe. Photo: Erica Mueller

What You Need to Know About the 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid comes in three main trim levels: Blue, SEL Convenience, and Limited. The Blue trim has a starting price of around $34,000, while the SEL Convenience starts at around $36,000. The Limited trim is the most expensive, with a starting price of around $41,000 – this is the trim level we experienced. All trims come standard with advanced safety features, including automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

The Blue trim comes with standard features like cloth upholstery, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a six-speaker audio system. It also comes with a number of advanced safety features, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.

The SEL Convenience trim adds several features, including a power liftgate, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a wireless charging pad. It also comes with a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a premium eight-speaker audio system, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

The Limited trim adds even more luxury features, including leather upholstery, ventilated front seats which we enjoyed in this Texas heat, a heated steering wheel, and a panoramic sunroof. It also comes with a surround-view camera system, a heads-up display, and a premium 12-speaker Bose audio system which was delightful.

Overall, we really enjoyed the Santa Fe. For someone like me who lives a long way from town, a hybrid SUV that uses less fuel is a big win.

Disclosure: Hyundai loaned me the Santa Fe Hybrid for a week for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and photos are my own.

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A web developer, digital marketing consultant, auto journalist, truck expert, photographer and lover of gadgets, Erica is a textbook... More about Erica Mueller