2013 Hyundai Santa Fe (Sport): New design, quiet ride

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The Weekly Driver recently had an opportunity for an extended review, a nearly 2,000-mile, two-week trek in the newly designed, six-passenger 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe (Limited). This week, it’s back to standard procedure. My weekly driver was the 2013 Santa Fe Sport edition.

It’s the smaller (in several ways) five-passenger edition in Hyundai’s restyled Santa Fe lineup. The larger Santa Fe replaced the poor-selling Veracruz. In addition to one less passenger and a smaller engine, the Sport is eight inches shorter than the Limited. But there are also interior and exterior similarities among the siblings, with the SUVs both offering a smooth ride. Hyundai’s new design is featured throughout its SUV lineup, and it attracts a lot of attention.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

One friend, who owns a Subaru Outback and a vintage Volkswagen bug, took one look at the 2013 Santa Fe and said: “Look at that. The Big Boys should be worried. It looks like a Mercedes.”

New design for Hyundai SUV lineup.
The redesigned Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. All images © James Raia/2013

And like a Mercedes Benz, the Santa Fe was surprisingly quiet, particularly for the SUV segment. The ride, while not superior in maneuverability or acceleration, was more sporty than rugged and that’s an added attraction.

My test vehicle included all-wheel drive and the optional 2-liter, four-cylinder with 264 horsepower. It shouldn’t be mistaken for a sports car in any way, but after a brief lag, the turbo-charged engine accelerated with authority.

(Double-click on thumbnails for full-sized images.)

The new Santa Fe has a sharp, purposeful exterior. It’s modern and looked as if it were crafted an architect with a passion for fine lines and angles. Hyundai has done well in recent years with it new “fluidic sculpture design” (read: flowing). It’s most prominent in the increasingly high-selling Sonata, among the carmaker’s other compacts and sedans.

With its new design, the Santa Fe looks simultaneously futuristic and handsome.

Hyundai Santa Fe: Sculpted and Tall

Look at the angles. Look the meshing of the glovebox into the navigation system. Look the contour of the panels molding into the dashboard. The easy of use and the high-sitting seats in a tall vehicle (66.1 inches) all add to the car’s comfort and efficiency.

Another strong component is the Digital Navigation System. It’s arguably the best in the industry. It has an eight-inch screen and offers a clear picture and easy-to-understand icons.

Instructions are precise, provided with a professional voice and give not so often that it’s an annoyance, like the “recalculating” refrain common in other systems.

Likes:

Sleek styling inside and out.
Great navigation system.
Exterior color, Canyon Copper. (Read: Burnt Orange).

Dislikes:

Uninspired steering.
Many coveted features only available as options.
Limited rear mirror view.

2013 Santa Fe Sport: Facts & Figures

Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles; Powertrain, 10 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 7 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 7 years/unlimited miles.
MSRP: $29,450.00.
Price As Driven: $35,925.00.
Engine: 2.0 liter, turbocharged inline-4, with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower, 264.
EPA Estimated Mileage: 19 (city) 24 (highway).

What Others Say:

“Anyone seeking a comfortable, capable, feature-rich 5-passenger crossover with commendable fuel economy, distinctive style and strong value will find plenty to like in the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“This new Sport is a truly great all-rounder, though no particular aspect of it feels truly revolutionary or exciting. That’s fine, though – just by creating a wholly solid product, Hyundai has taken its Santa Fe from also-ran status to a vehicle that’s certainly worthy of your attention.” — Autoblog.

“Although we don’t think it’s quite on par with the CX-5, the 2013 Santa Fe’s solid feel, rattle-free interior, and well-heeled moves place it light-years beyond those of the outgoing model.” — Car and Driver

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words

“Hyundai doesn’t make a bad car. But having now driven Limited and Sport editions of 2013 Santa Fe, the Limited edition just has a lot more overall to offer than the sport model. The Sport Edition is satisfactory; the Limited Edition shines.”

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