Preview: 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Blue Hybrid
It's hard to believe the Korean auto industry is a latecomer to the business when such vehicles as the Santa Fe Hybrid are presented to the market. The thinly disguised production version of the vehicle shown in Paris is powered by a 2.4-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor run by a lithium polymer battery pack. This powertrain, which Hyundai says will be fitted to all of its hybrids beginning with the Elantra sedan, delivers an average of 38 mpg.
Why it Matters
Do we really need to tell you why a hybrid matters (fuel economy) or why it's important for a carmaker to offer a hybrid vehicle (Toyota Prius waiting list)? Of course not, but the Hyundai Santa Fe Blue Hybrid matters for a number of reasons, the main one being that it offers the possibility of getting 38 miles per gallon in a crossover SUV. So you can have it all with the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid crossover -- space, utility and gas mileage.
What it Looks Like
With the exception of low-rolling-resistance tires, not much is done to the exterior of the Hyundai Santa Fe hybrid model to distinguish it from the standard Santa Fe. Inside, the differences are even fewer, but that's just fine considering that the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid is a 7-passenger fuel-saver.
What's Under the Skin
In a clean, fairly elegant hybrid application, the Hyundai Santa Fe Blue Hybrid couples Hyundai's 2.4-liter inline-4 gasoline engine to an electric motor with a lithium polymer battery setup. This system is mated directly to a six-speed automatic transmission.
What We Think
Claims of 38 mpg in a crossover SUV? Count us in, especially since we know that the Hyundai Santa Fe is already a pretty good SUV to begin with. And one other thing we've seen Hyundai do in recent years is offering competitive vehicles at a more-than-competitive price. Most hybrid vehicles come at a bit of a premium, maybe Hyundai can break that pattern with the 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Blue Hybrid.
By Richard Homan and Greg Brown
Photo credit: Greg Brown