Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV vs Hyundai Tucson PHEV

Hyundai Sante Fe PHEV vs Hyundai Tucson PHEV

At first glance, you might see the Hyundai SUV lineup in a longitudinal way starting at the Venue and going across the page to the Palisade with stops along the way for the Tucson and the Santa Fe. Dig in a little deeper and you notice that there are also latitudinal differences that distinguish the models in more sublime ways than just size and price.

This is especially true with the Tucson and Santa Fe. I tested both vehicles to find out exactly how the two differ.

For these two nameplates, not only are there three distinct performance choices – internal combustion engine only, hybrid gasoline/electric and plug-in hybrid electric, but there are step ups from one to the other that differentiate them by style, features and attitude.

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Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV vs Hyundai Tucson PHEV Comparison

SpecificationsHyundai Santa Fe PHEVHyundai Tucson PHEV
Length / Width / Height
188.4 / 74.8 / 67.3 in.
182.3 / 73.4 / 65.6 in.
Curb Weight
4387 - 4515 lbs
4081 - 4235 lbs
Ground Clearance
8.2 in.
8.3 in.
SAE Cargo Volume
72.1 cu.ft.
66.3 cu.ft.
440 miles (incl. 30 miles electric)
420 miles (incl. 33 miles electric)
Net Horsepower
261 HP
261 HP
Fuel Economy
Combined City / Hwy.
76 MPGe / 33 MPG
80 MPGe / 35 MPG
Time To Charge
Level 2 (240V): 3.4 Hours
Level 2 (240V): 1.7 Hours

Tale of the Tape

Hyundai-Tucson-PHEV-Tale-of-the-TapeBoth models offer two trims that are plug-in hybrids: SEL Convenience and Limited for the Santa Fe PHEV, and SEL and Limited for the Tucson PHEV. Straight out of the box, it’s evident that the Santa Fe is the bigger vehicle. It’s longer, wider, taller and weighs around 300 pounds more in trim-to-trim comparisons.

Consequently, I noticed that the Santa Fe PHEV is roomier and provides more cargo space. The key observation here is that in the Santa Fe PHEV, driver and front passenger legroom and hip room outdo the Tucson PHEV by three inches, and shoulder room lengthens by about two and a half inches. Those are not just numbers, that’s a whole different level of comfort. To be fair, the Tucson PHEV is comfortable in its own way and competes well in its segment, but the Santa Fe PHEV raises the bar on comfort markedly higher. Even in the second row, while legroom is equal to the Tucson PHEV’s, hip and shoulder room still go to the Santa Fe PHEV by nearly two and a half inches.

With cargo space, too, the Santa Fe PHEV has the clear advantage, providing nearly 6 cubic feet more than the Tucson PHEV when the rear seats are folded down. Granted, this is important when you need it, but not necessarily a deal breaker for those buyers who aren’t likely to use it. It does beg the question: why doesn’t the Santa Fe offer a third-row option, even if it’s just a jump seat for the kids?

The Takeaway: If size is important, then the Santa Fe will give you more in every direction. The question is: How much do you need to be comfortable or to be satisfied that the vehicle will accommodate your lifestyle?

Cabin Quality and Design

Hyundai-Tucson-PHEV-Cabin-Quality-and-DesignThese days, one can find premium features at some level in almost any SUV. Whether it’s enough to qualify the vehicle as a premium-level model however has much more to do with the sum-total experience delivered; something more qualitative than quantitative. For the Santa Fe and Tucson, this is what I noticed as the crux of their differences.

At the entry-level the Tucson PHEV is priced $4,600 less than the Santa Fe PHEV, while each’s top-level Limited editions are separated by about $2,800, the Santa Fe being the more expensive. Dissimilarities in the cabin include a leg cushion extension for the driver in the Santa Fe Limited as well as an integrated memory system for the driver’s preferences. Also, while heated front seats are standard in both models, heated rear seats are likewise standard in the Santa Fe PHEV yet only the Limited gets them in the Tucson PHEV.

As for entertainment, the Tucson PHEV Limited features a premium Bose audio system which is certainly above average, but it’s a step down from the 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium system in the Santa Fe PHEV Limited. Strangely, with both vehicles the lower trim gets wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay while the upper trim gets a wired connection. Wireless phone charging is standard in the Santa Fe PHEV but included only in the Tucson PHEV Limited. Lastly a key indicator of their overall qualitative difference is that the Santa Fe PHEV comes with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. The best the Tucson offers is a 10.25-inch gauge display in the Limited. Meanwhile, the Tucson SEL makes do with a dated 4.2-inch cluster display and analog meters.

The Takeaway: All things are not equal inside these two models. Where the Tucson offers glimpses of a premium level experience, the Santa Fe is more earnest in this quest.

Performance & Powertrains

Hyundai-Tucson-PHEV-Performance-&-PowertrainsIn the performance arena, I found that these two vehicles fare somewhat equally. Both utilize a combination of a 1.6-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor to yield a net 261 horsepower. A shift-by-wire 6-speed automatic transmission paired with all-wheel drive is standard as well. Towing capacity for both maxes out at 2000 pounds with trailer brakes. Importantly, the Santa Fe PHEV comes equipped with trailer sway control that automatically engages the electronic stability control system when it senses the trailer swaying, while reducing the throttle and engaging the brakes.

Other differences are in total range, fuel economy and charging times. The Santa Fe PHEV has the longer range as indicated in the above table, but it also has a 12.4-gallon fuel tank compared with the 11.1-gallon tank in the Tucson PHEV. Of course, with the Santa Fe being the bigger SUV, its fuel economy comes in a bit lower than the Tucson. The EPA estimates that the difference amounts to the Tucson PHEV saving $100 dollars in fuel costs annually over the Santa Fe PHEV based on 15,000 miles traveled and 55% of the miles being city driving, 45% highway.

Where the Tucson PHEV noticeably edges out the Santa Fe PHEV is in the speed of its charging. For practical reasons, using a 120-volt connection takes just too much time with either vehicle, but with a 240-volt charger installed at home, charging becomes very manageable. Nevertheless, the stark difference between the Tucson PHEV taking 1.7 hours to charge while the Santa Fe takes 3.4 hours seems inexplicable since both battery systems have a 13.8-kWh capacity.

The Takeaway: There are many drivers who will manage to do most of their everyday driving primarily on electric in either the Santa Fe PHEV or the Tucson PHEV by traveling under 40 miles per day. For those drivers who want to do more all-electric driving, the Tucson would be the better choice simply for the convenience of its much faster charging time.

Safety Equipment and Scores

Hyundai-Santa-Fe-PHEV-Safety-Equipment-and-ScoresBoth the 2022 Santa Fe and the 2022 Tucson have received the coveted Top Safety Pick+ recognition from the IIHS. Feature for feature, these two SUVs score high for including standard advanced safety technologies such as forward collision avoidance, blind spot detection, lane keeping assist and driver attention warning.

Where the Santa FE PHEV steps out in front is with refinements such as high beam assist, standard reverse park distance warning and the aforementioned trailer sway control.

Nevertheless, at the Limited trim level both are endowed with some remarkable new technologies including remote park assist. With this feature, one can forego squeezing in or out of the vehicle in a tight parking spot by simply using the smart key buttons to move the vehicle forward or back while standing outside.

The Takeaway: With an armory full of safety technologies, the Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV and Tucson PHEV both provide an exceptionally safe driving environment. Choosing one over the other based on safety should only hinge on whether one often hitches up a trailer.

Current Hyundai Santa Fe PHEV Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2023HyundaiSanta Fe Plug-in Hybrid$5005.49%$360/month for 36 months, $4,008 due at signing10/2/23

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Hyundai deals and average prices paid.

Current Hyundai Tuscon PHEV Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2023HyundaiTucson Plug-in Hybrid$5005.49%$329/month for 36 months, $3,699 due at signing10/2/23
2024HyundaiTucson Plug-in Hybrid6.19%$429/month for 36 months, $3,999 due at signing10/2/23

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Hyundai deals.

So, Which Is Better – the Santa Fe PHEV or the Tucson PHEV?

Hyundai has created these two vehicles with different buyers in mind. After testing both the Sante Fe PHEV and the Tuscon PHEV, I think it really comes down to what you're looking for in a car. For those who see their SUV as nothing more than a five-passenger transporter, then the Tucson PHEV will more than meet your expectations.

If one needs a bit more elegance and refinement, then stick with the Santa Fe PHEV.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which has more features, the Santa Fe PHEV or the Tucson PHEV?

These vehicles are priced differently yet mostly offer comparable features. However, the Santa Fe PHEV is not only larger, but also designed to occupy more of the premium space in the SUV market than the Tucson.

Are PHEVs worth the extra money one pays over their traditionally powered counterparts?

Over time, yes, they are. Besides reducing carbon emissions, a PHEV will save enough in fuel costs over its lifetime to more than cover the difference in initial price. Plus, there may be tax incentives that will offset the cost.