The final stretch of my drive from Sacramento to San Diego for the start of the Tour of California took me over the steep, winding Grapevine into the hectic nature of the Los Angeles basin and finally to San Diego.
How anyone can maintain their stress level commuting in the Los Angeles area on either Highway 101 or the 405 is beyond me. I’ve driven both highways in recent years at different times of the day, and it’s always madness.
Unlike the aggressive driving in Europe in which drivers also have skill, many Southern California drivers appear to be motivated only by anger and attitude.
With four breaks along the way, I finally arrived at the Rancho Bernardo Inn parking in my test vehicle for the trip, a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe (Limited). I’d driven 491 miles, primarily on Interstate 5 in a north-to-south route and on the above-mentioned regional freeway circuits. The journey took slight more than 12 hours.
The Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Edition has a 24-valve, 3.3-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and it utilizes its power well. Compared to the competition, the Santa Fe accelerates quickly even with the air conditioner blasting at a strong clip. I had to accelerate several times on freeway ramps aggressively and the Sante Fe didn’t let me down.
What was immediately noticeable was the difference in gas mileage with the air conditioner on or off. As the temperature cooled with nightfall along Interstate 5, I turned off the air conditioner and the fuel economy increased nearly two miles per gallon to more than 27 mpg.
The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe has mileage ratings of 18 (city), 25 (highway) and 21 combined. I averaged 26.4 mpg for the trip. And I filled up the gas tank once, with the range showing 358 miles and the cost $61.50.
Article Last Updated: July 28, 2023.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.