The Hyundai Santa Fe has staked quite a claim for itself in the vast expanse of two-row crossover land. On the other hand, Hyundai’s 3-row Veracruz didn’t do so well. So why not try to fix that by capitalizing on the Santa Fe name? So along with the recently introduced 5-passenger Santa Fe Sport comes a new 7-passenger model named simply, Santa Fe. Will all of that shuffling result in a winning hand? Well it’s time to place your bets!
Without a doubt, Hyundai has certainly gone “all-in” in recent years, with a nearly constant onslaught of fresh products and new segment entries. The newest goes by a familiar name, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe. It competes against other mid-to-larger three-row crossovers like the Mazda CX-9, Honda Pilot, and Chevrolet Traverse, just to name a few.
Compared to the new two-row Santa Fe Sport, the Santa Fe is 8 ½ inches longer; riding on a stretched 110.2 inch wheelbase. Like most rivals, a V6 powertrain is standard. Here it’s the Azera’s 3.3-liter V6 feeding power to the front or all-wheels through a 6-speed automatic. Horsepower is 290, with torque coming in at 252 lb-ft.
The combo is good for Government Fuel Economy Ratings of 18–City, 25-Highway, and 21–Combined in 2-wheel-drive models. We averaged a good 22.0 miles-per-gallon of Regular in mixed driving. It also offers a good amount of muscle for daily duties, including good passing power and towing up to 5,000 pounds.
Being a family SUV, it’s what’s inside matters the most, and here our feelings about the new Santa Fe are more mixed.
Everything looks nice; the layout is fine; with deep hooded gauges, an easy to use center stack, and standard Blue Link telematics. But the environs come off as less expensive as both the old Veracruz and newer rivals like the Nissan Pathfinder. Seats are comfortable, but again the cushions grab us as short and thin. In Limited trim the second row is Captain’s Chairs for a capacity of six. Our 7-seat GLS had a 40/20/40 split bench, with a 60/40 slider as an option.
Ease of access to the 50/50 split third row is good, and it does provide surprising room for adults along with its own climate controls. Maximum cargo capacity is a respectable 80.0 cubic-ft, with 40.9 behind the second row, and 13.5 behind the third. Our GLS tester did not include the Limited’s power rear hatch, but the lift gate is very light, so we didn’t feel that it was necessary.
Neither is running quarter miles in this family wagon, but that’s what we do, so off to the track we went for a 0-60 time of only 7.4 seconds, and a sprint through the quarter of 16.0-seconds flat at 90 miles per hour. Braking from 60 felt very good for a mass market hauler. Stops averaged an acceptable 131-feet with immediate response and feedback from the nice firm pedal. But dodging cones was not so impressive; with slow steering, plenty of body roll, and a clumsy feel that all work together to constantly remind you how big the new Santa Fe really is.
The Santa Fe features sharper lines over the rear wheels, has chrome-tipped dual exhaust, a tow hitch cover, a slightly different take on the grille, and 18-inch wheels.
Santa Fe pricing starts at a class reasonable $29,455, with the Limited model starting at $34,025. All-wheel-drive is available on either model for $1,750 more.
The 2013 Santa Fe is all around competent and a good value, if not really a standout. A nice vehicle, but clearly a step down in image from the Veracruz it replaces. Still, the Santa Fe name may be just what it takes to give Hyundai a serious player in the larger crossover segment.
Engine: 3.3-liter V6
Torque: 252 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.4 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.0 seconds @ 90 mph
EPA: 18 mpg city/ 25 mpg highway