TEST DRIVES

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe: Two wheelbase strategy

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Michelin

Hyundai Motor America just launched its third generation Santa Fe employing a new and unique two wheelbase strategy for a crossover vehicle – a concept usually only found in luxury sedans. First came the 2013 Santa Fe Sport, a five passenger CUV with two four-cylinder engine applications – a 2.4-liter or a 2.0-liter turbocharged powerplant. Now, there’s a 2013 Santa Fe, which replaces the outgoing Hyundai Veracruz and is 320 pounds lighter. It is available in two trim levels — a seven-passenger GLS and a six-passenger, more upscale Limited model.

Both new Santa Fe models enjoy three row seating and come in either Front-Wheel Drive or an “Active On Demand” All-Wheel Drive system with AWD lock and Active Cornering Control configuration, and both are powered by a transversely front mounted 3.3-liter Gasoline Direct Injection V6 engine. The 3.3-liter V6 produces 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm along with 252 pound feet of torque at 5,200 rpm. Motive force reaches the driving wheels via a Hyundai designed and engineered, electronically controlled 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual shift capability.

 

The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe features a 3.9-inch longer wheelbase, is 8.5-inches longer overall than its Santa Fe Sport sibling, while providing an additional 38.6 feet of total interior volume. It is the only midsize CUV with a direct injection engine as standard. The Santa Fe is tow rated at up to 5,000 pounds and comes with features such as: steering wheel mounted Driver Selectable Steering Mode with three settings (Normal, Comfort and Sport); Hill Start Assist; Downhill Brake Control; Brake Assist, Traction Control; a Panoramic sunroof (optional); seven standard airbags; heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel; power driver and front passenger seats; standard Hyundai Blue Link – safety, service and infotainment telematics system; third generation navigation and audio multimedia systems with an available eight-inch display; and a power liftgate.

Seating arrangements for the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe include seven passenger seating with 40:20:40 split folding second row bench seat or six passenger seating with second row captain’s chairs and sliding and reclining second row seating with cargo area release and 50:50 flat folding third row seats. There are rear HVAC controls and a 115 volt power outlet located in the cargo area.

The 2013 Santa Fe Sport and three-row Santa Fe were designed together, featuring Hyundai’s signature “Fluidic Sculpture” with the primary differentiating element being the side window shape. The longer Santa Fe features a shape highlighting the increased passenger and cargo room behind the third-row seat. The Santa Fe also displays its own unique bodyside character lines from the B-pillar back, a different grille design, standard 18-inch Euroflange alloy wheels, with 19-inch alloy wheels available, chrome-tipped dual exhaust and a flush-mounted tow hitch design.

Both GLS and Limited Santa Fe trims feature the same flowing interior look, designed not only for functionality but for passenger comfort as well, ranging from available heated rear seats and eight-way power driver seat with four-way lumbar support, to a standard 40:20:40 folding rear seat back. Also new for 2013 – and standard on all Santa Fe models equipped with cloth seats – is a “YES Essentials” seat fabric treatment that provides soil-resistant, anti-odor and anti-static properties. Santa Fe models also offer an optional push-button starter with proximity key, electroluminescent gauge cluster with color LCD trip computer and a heated steering wheel. The remote start may be activated by an available smart phone application.

During the national press launch, I piloted a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe in Limited trim and AWD configuration. The base price was set at $34,850 while the final sticker totaled $38,730 after adding for the Technology Package, carpeted floor mats and freight charges. The exterior sported a Circuit Silver metallic finish, while the interior was executed in Black with faux dark polished trim elements. The Tech Package included: the panoramic sunroof, navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen, 12-speaker Infinity Logic 7 Surround Sound 550-watt audio system, HD radio technology, heated steering wheel and manual rear side window sunshades. I was also able to experience a Limited model in FWD that costs $1,750 less. It was finished in Regal Red Pearl metallic with a Beige interior.

Hyundai categorizes their CUV offering structure, with the Tucson as appropriate for pre-family, the Santa Fe as ideal for families, and the Santa Fe Sport skewed to post-family use. In reality, beauty and function are variable values based upon individual preferences. In my opinion, both the 2013 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport are more pleasingly stylish than the Tucson. If you want V6 power and third row seating, go for the Santa Fe in either GLS or Limited Trim. If smaller is your cup of tea and you don’t require third row seating or V6 power, the Santa Fe Sport is the obvious pick – with your choice of two four-cylinder engines.

In any case, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, is an extremely sleek (with a drag coefficient of 0.34) and attractive mid size Crossover Utility Vehicle with more than adequate power issuing forth from its 3.3-liter V6 along with a pleasant note from its dual exhaust. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly in either fully automatic or in the manual Shiftronic mode.

There is a notable difference in steering effort with the Driver Selectable Steering Mode. The Comfort mode seemed somewhat on the numb side to me, with the Normal mode being just as its name implies. I preferred the Sport mode, which in my opinion, delivered a crisper, more on-center feel.

Hyundai has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of not only styling and design, but in engineering development and mechanical advancements as well as dependability and reliability since their first U.S. offerings. Hyundai’s Bluelink telematics system is intuitive and easy to use, with a host of applications and infotainment features.

Bottom line, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe rates as a highly desirable and practical mid size CUV in either trim level. EPA mileage estimates are 18-mpg city and 24-mpg highway for the AWD version with only 1-mpg more on the highway for FWD models.

 

Michelin

Founder, Owner & CEO

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