2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
by John Davis
Since it first arrived here for the 2001 model year, the Hyundai Santa Fe has been a hit with owners by providing a great value among other mid-size crossover vehicles. That in itself is a pretty impressive feat since few automotive segments are more crowded and competitive than middle weight CUVs.
Now, for the 2013 model year, an all-new Hyundai Santa Fe debuts a fresh, two-fisted approach toward expanding its appeal. Already in dealerships is a familiar 5-passegner model, now named the Santa Fe Sport. That will be followed early next year with a longer wheelbase 7-passenger Santa Fe that replaces the Veracruz in the Hyundai lineup.
Hyundai’s fluidic sculpture design language is in play on both models, but in a more subdued way than on the compact Tucson crossover. Still there are stem-to-stern character lines, a rising beltline, and wraparound tail lights. A huge, hexagonal grille with chrome trim adds real presence, while the headlights feature LED accents.
It’s a sign of these more fuel efficient times that the Sport’s engine choices consist of two 4-cylinders, a 264-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo; and a 2.4-liter normally aspirated Direct Injection I4. Despite a smallish horsepower number of 190, our first impressions were solid as the Sport 2.4 moves off the line well. Both engines come attached to a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, and both are available in front or all-wheel drive configurations. A 3.3-liter V6 will power the 7-passenger Santa Fe.
Santa Fe cornering control and response are fully on par with the rest of the class, very competent but by no means exceptional. Suspension layout is familiar MacPherson struts up front, and multi-links in the rear.
Like all recent Hyundais, the Santa Fe Sport’s interior is nicely done and proved to be roomier than expected. The layout and instrument panel are also familiar, drawn from Sonata and others. We found front seats to be reasonably comfortable.
There is plenty of storage space to be found including a wide, open center console. All controls work well. Choose the Leather and Premium Equipment package and you’ll add push button start, rearview camera, and sliding and reclining rear seats. The optional Technology package adds 8-inch touch-screen navigation, Dimension premium audio, heated steering wheel, rear window shades, and a panoramic sunroof.
Fuel economy is also competitive, but not best in class, with a combined Government Fuel Economy Highway Rating of 24 miles per gallon using regular grade gas.
The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a very solid effort. Add in the brand’s outstanding warranty protection, and it appears that the Santa Fe will prove to be a very capable choice among mid-size crossover utilities.
For our exclusive road test of the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3215 which begins airing on December 15th, 2012. Click here for a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable channel.