Hyundai redesigned the Santa Fe for 2013, splitting its SUV into two variants with separate sizes and styling: the two-row, four-cylinder Santa Fe Sport and the three-row, V-6 Santa Fe.
(Skip to details on the Santa Fe Sport)
Boasting available all-wheel drive with a torque vectoring system to enhance handling — similar to all-wheel-drive systems from BMW and Acura — the Santa Fe gets a standard 3.3-liter V-6. It replaces the Veracruz in Hyundai's lineup and competes against the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander.
The latest car to receive Hyundai's "fluidic sculpture" design, the Santa Fe has a large, vertical grille that looks a bit like the one on a Subaru Tribeca. The tail recalls those on many large SUVs, from the Mazda CX-9 to the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder. Dual tailpipes sit within bumper-integrated openings. The Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport share the same platform, but the Sport is about as long as a Ford Edge, and the Santa Fe is 8.5 inches longer. It's about 2 inches longer than the Pilot and 4 inches shorter than the Explorer.
Chrome trim along the grille and door handles is standard, as are body-colored mirrors. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, with 19s optional.
Total passenger volume in the new Santa Fe is 146.6 cubic feet, which is equivalent to the Highlander but falls short of the Pilot and Explorer by more than 7 cubic feet. Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system with three months' service is standard (a subscription is required thereafter); so is keyless access with push-button start. The adjustable second row includes 40/20/40-split folding sections with releases in the cargo area.
Stain-resistant cloth upholstery is standard. A navigation system on an 8-inch dashboard screen is optional, as are power front seats, a panoramic moonroof, heated front and rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. Hyundai says the Santa Fe offers another 1.9 inches of second-row legroom and 5.9 inches of extra cargo room versus its Sport sibling. The third row folds in a 50/50 split.
Under the Hood
Powering the Santa Fe is the 290-horsepower, 3.3-liter V-6 from the Azera sedan. A six-speed automatic is standard, and an Active Eco button modifies accelerator sensitivity and transmission response to improve real-world gas mileage. Drive-selectable steering can alter power-steering assist to improve feedback on curvy roads or reduce steering effort in city gridlock.
Seven airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. A blind spot warning system is optional.
Santa Fe Sport
Boasting available all-wheel drive with a torque vectoring system to enhance handling — similar to all-wheel-drive systems employed by BMW and Acura — the Santa Fe Sport gets a 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder. It slots between the smaller Hyundai Tucson and the larger Santa Fe. Competitors include the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano.
The Santa Fe Sport looks similar to the Santa Fe but 8.5 inches shorter. The Sport has a similar hexagonal grille, but the beltline takes a sharper angle upward at the rear-quarter windows. Chrome trim along the grille and door handles is standard, as are body-colored mirrors. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard, while turbocharged models get 19-inch wheels.
Hyundai says it cut 266 pounds from the Santa Fe Sport versus its four-cylinder, front-drive Santa Fe predecessor. The weight loss grows to 300 pounds when you compare the turbo Santa Fe Sport to the V-6 Santa Fe. That's no small feat, and Hyundai says it marks the largest weight loss through a redesign in company history.
The Santa Fe Sport's interior looks similar to the confines within other Hyundai cars, with plenty of overlapping materials and an angular, sweeping panel that houses climate and audio controls. The standard cloth seats have stain-resistant fabric. Behind the rear seat is 35.4 cubic feet of cargo space, which beats the Edge (32.2 cubic feet) and Murano (up to 31.8).
Sliding second-row seats and a heated steering wheel are optional; so is a panoramic moonroof. Turbo models get keyless access with push-button start. A CD stereo with USB/iPod compatibility is standard. Hyundai's Blue Link telecommunications system with three months of service is standard (a subscription is required thereafter). The optional navigation system has an 8-inch screen with Hyundai's latest generation of navigation. Hyundai says the system's voice recognition can pick up addresses with streets and cities in the same sentence.
Under the Hood
The Santa Fe Sport's base engine, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, uses direct injection to make an estimated 190 horsepower. A six-speed automatic is standard. Hyundai expects the Santa Fe to get 29 mpg in EPA highway ratings with front-wheel drive, which beats other small SUVs. The turborcharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is estimated to produce 264 hp. Drive-selectable steering can alter power-steering assist to improve feedback on curvy roads or reduce steering effort in city gridlock. Turbo models get upgraded shock absorbers.
An Active Eco button modifies accelerator sensitivity and transmission response to improve real-world gas mileage. With either engine, the Santa Fe Sport can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
Seven airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. Back to top.
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