Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
December 18, 2013
Author's Note: With 2013 coming to a close in a couple of weeks, we've decided to clear out the remaining 2013 vehicle reviews this week. Everyday a new review will appear on the front page. If you miss one day, don't worry, we'll have links to the previous reviews just below. -WM
Monday: Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV
Tuesday: Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD
Thursday: Toyota Land Cruiser
Friday: Lexus LS 600h L
A few weeks ago, I reviewed the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and really came away impressed. Now I was wondering how the larger brother, the 2013 Santa Fe would fare. Well I have an answer to that as I spent a week in the 2013 Santa Fe Limited AWD.
Explaining the styling of the Santa Fe is pretty simple. Take a Santa Fe Sport and stretch out like taffy: Voilà, you have the Santa Fe. Compared to the Sport, the 2013 Santa Fe rides on a wheelbase that is 3.9 inches longer and overall length is 8.5 inches longer. Aside from different measurements, the models share many design cues. The front end features a large grille that I found to be almost too big and a set of distinctly-shaped headlights. The side profile reveals body sculpting, a bold character line, and a set of nineteen-inch alloy wheels. Compared to the Veracruz, Hyundai's first attempt at a seven-seat crossover, the new Santa Fe looks much more stylish.
The center stack is comprised of a large eight-inch touchscreen that comes as part of the $2,900 Technology Package that includes navigation and Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system. As I said before, Hyundai's infotainment system has to be one of the fastest systems on the marketplace today. It also is one the easiest to use with a simple interface and large touch points. If you don't opt for the tech package, a 4.3-inch screen sits in that space and looks a bit odd. Underneath are controls for the HVAC system which are easy to understand and use.
There is an odd thing about the seating arrangement in the Santa Fe lineup. The base GLS trim only comes with seating for seven-people via a second-row bench, while the Limited trim comes with seating for six thanks to two captain chairs. You can't option for six seats in the GLS or seven in the Limited. I'm wondering why Hyundai decided to give only one choice dependent on the trim. My best guess? Keep it simple. Comfort wise, head and legroom are excellent for the second-row. The third-row is best reserved for small kids or folded into the floor to expand cargo space from 13.5 Cubic Feet to 40.9 Cubic Feet.
See the next page for thoughts on the powertrain and ride.
Under the hood is Hyundai's 3.3L GDI V6 engine with 290 horsepower and 252 pound-feet of torque. This is mated to a six-speed automatic to either the front wheels or our tester's optional all-wheel drive system. As I have said previously on the 3.3L V6, it moves any vehicle with authority. The Santa Fe is no exception. This engine is also very refined with not much noise coming from the engine bay. The six-speed automatic is quick on up and downshifts, and provides a seamless transition between them.
The suspension duties are taken up by a set of MacPherson struts up front and a compact multi-link independent setup at the rear. This setup provides a very comfortable ride with most bumps and imperfections being ironed out. Take into consideration that this Santa Fe was equipped with the nineteen-inch alloy wheels and this suspension setup is more impressive.
Hyundai has fitted the Santa Fe with their Driver-Selectable Steering Modes which can vary the steering weight from light (Comfort) to heavy (Sport). As I have said previously, I don't like this system since Comfort and Sport are on the extreme ends and really doesn't improve the driving experience. I found myself leaving it in normal and being happy with it.
Much like the Santa Fe Sport, I found myself being impressed with the Santa Fe. Hyundai focused on the key areas that many buyers are looking for in a crossover; value for money, space, and comfort. This would be a crossover I would recommend to anyone.
There is a 'but' to this review. As I said earlier, this Santa Fe showed signs of wear and tear at such a low amount of miles which makes me question some of the material choices and therefore quality. I'm wondering if this was a fluke and other Santa Fes don't show signs like this. If so, I would say Hyundai has done an excellent job on the Santa Fe and its worth a look. If not, then I think it's time for Hyundai to be asking some tough questions.
Disclaimer: Hyundai Provided the Santa Fe Limited, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Model: Santa Fe
Trim: Limited AWD
Engine: 3.3L GDI DOHC 24-valve V6
Driveline: All-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400
Torque @ RPM: 252 @ 5,200
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/24/20
Curb Weight: 4,297 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Ulsan, Korea
Base Price: $34,850.00
As Tested Price: $38,730.00 (Includes $845.00 Destination Charge)
Technology Package - $2,900.00
Carpeted Floor Mats - $135.00