Hyundai has expanded the Santa Fe brand to include two crossover body styles, the two-row Santa Fe Sport, and the three-row Santa Fe that replaces the outgoing Hyundai Veracruz. The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is a six- or seven-passenger SUV that is available in GLS and Limited trim levels. For those needing less space the Hyundai Sport is a slightly shorter, five-passenger that’s offered in base and 2.0T trims.
The Santa Fe Sport and Santa Fe were designed together and have a similar appearance up front, but the larger Santa Fe emphasizes the increased passenger and cargo room with its own bodyside character lines from the B-pillar back.
Seating configurations depend on model and trim level. The Santa Fe Sport offers seating for five with comfortable, well-bolstered front bucket seats and a 40/20/40 rear bench that allows 5.2-inches of fore/aft travel. The Santa Fe GLS seats seven by adding a 50/50, split fold-flat-into-floor seat in a third row. The top-of-the-line Limited has seating for six by replacing the GLS bench seat in the second row with two captain chairs.
Both Santa Fe models have the same interior appearance. The three-row Santa Fe increases second-row legroom by 1.9 inches and cargo capacity 5.5 cubic feet, and features standard rear-passenger HVAC controls and vents to increase rear seat comfort. Cloth upholstering can be upgraded to leather.
Standard features on the base Sport model include 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, cruise control, a trip computer, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone connectivity, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system and a six-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio and USB/iPod integration.
The Popular Equipment package includes automatic headlights, foglights, heated mirrors, roof rack rails, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats and an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat with power lumbar support.
Available on Santa Fe models, is a panoramic sunroof, rear side window sunshades, push-button starter with proximity key, electroluminescent gauge cluster with color LCD trip computer and a heated steering wheel. Our Santa Fe Limited test car had two tone leather seating, highlighted with attractive stitching. The three-row Santa Fe also features a power liftgate for added convenience.
The two Sport models are engine-defined. The base 2.4 model gets a 190-hp 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine and the more performance-oriented 2.0T model features a 294-hp, 2.0-liter direct-injected turbo. EPA fuel economy figures are 21/29 and 20/27 city/highway respectively.
The Santa Fe is powered by the same 3.3-liter V6 featured in the Hyundai Azera. It uses direct injection to increase power and torque, while reducing fuel consumption and emissions. Capable of towing 5,000 pounds, its EPA fuel economy is 18/25 mpg city/highway.
All Santa Fe models use Hyundai’s six-speed automatic transmission with manual control. This transmission offers smooth shifts and a wide ratio spread that suits the engine’s characteristics. An ECO system modifies engine and transmission control to help increase real-world fuel economy.
All 2013 Santa Fe models have Hyundai’s Hillstart and Downhill Brake Control to maximize control on steep hills. Hillstart minimizes rolling backwards on steep ascents, while DBC helps you maintain vehicle control and speed on steep downhill descents.
With its three operating modes, Hyundai’s Driver Selectable Steering Mode lets you adapt the Santa Fe’s steering characteristics to varying driving preferences and road conditions. Comfort mode is ideal for city and parking environments, offering the greatest ease of steering. Normal mode is ideal for a mix of driving conditions. Sport Mode is optimized for higher-speed freeways or winding roads and decreases power steering assist from Normal mode. During our test drive, we tried all three modes. Unimpressed, we quickly returned to Normal and left it there.
Santa Fe models use a MacPherson strut front suspension and a fully independent multi-link rear suspension. The larger Santa Fe sits on 18- or 19-inch wheels, while the Sport has either 17s or 18s. The chassis and steering supply a solid feeling of control while largely absorbing road surface imperfections. Ride and handling are about as good as it gets in a crossover.
Santa Fe includes a number of convenient, standard stowage and storage features, including an overhead console sunglass holder, two front and two rear seat cupholders, door bottle holders, enlarged central storage console, front storage bin, front seat- back pockets and generous under-floor cargo storage.
All models are available with four audio systems. Standard is an AM/FM/Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system with six-speakers and iPod/USB/auxiliary input jacks. The upgrade audio system boasts a 4.3-inch full color LCD screen with HD Radio and rear view camera. The third system consists of the Gen 3.0 Navigation unit with Dimension audio with 10 speakers. Finally, the premium navigation system includes an Infinity 550-watt, Logic 7 surround sound audio system with 12 speakers, including an eight-inch subwoofer and external amplifier is available.
A SiriusXM Satellite Radio interface is integrated into each head unit and features channel logos and Data services, such as NavWeather, Stock Ticker and Sports Ticker. A Bluetooth hands-free phone system with voice recognition, address book download and audio streaming is also standard. Both navigation systems integrate rear-view camera output. Blue Link turn-by-turn navigation is standard on all Santa Fe models.
Blue Link combines safety, service and infotainment features to simplify owners’ lives and reduce distracted driving. Blue Link brings seamless connectivity directly into the car with technology like voice text messaging, POI web search download, turn-by-turn navigation, and monthly vehicle reporting.
Hyundai Blue Link telematics is standard on all Santa Fe models with up to a one-year complimentary trial period. Blue Link can be easily accessed from the buttons on the rearview mirror, the web and via a smart phone. Blue Link is offered in three packages: Assurance, Essentials and Guidance.
The Sport, built in Kia's Georgia assembly plant has been on sale since late 2012. The larger Santa Fe goes on sale later in the 2013 model year and is built in South Korea.
Prices start at $24,450 for the Sport and $28,350 for the full-size Santa Fe.