2013 Hyundai Santa Fe at the 2012 L.A. Auto Show

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  • Competes with: Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Explorer
  • Looks like: We’ll be explaining the difference between a Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport again
  • Drivetrain: 290-hp, 3.3-liter V-6 engine; front or all-wheel drive; six-speed automatic transmission
  • Hits dealerships: January 2013

Up until now, Hyundai’s three-row 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV—a replacement for the now-discontinued three-row Veracruz—has been a concept with few details. Now, we get our first look at the finished product as well as more details regarding features and equipment. As a larger version of the redesigned 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport currently on sale, the extended-wheelbase Santa Fe includes seating for seven with a second-row bench seat and available seating for six with optional captain’s chairs.

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The large Santa Fe and smaller Santa Fe Sport were crafted in tandem by Hyundai’s design team so their cabins look nearly identical, as does exterior styling. On the inside, from the front seats rearward is where differences begin with more room for passengers and cargo. Passengers riding in the Santa Fe’s second row have an additional 1.9 inches of legroom compared to the Sport.

Unlike the Sport with its multiple engine offerings—one turbocharged, one not—all Santa Fe models are powered by the same V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. Maximum towing capacity for the Santa Fe is a 5,000 pounds with both drive types, which is competitive for the midsize crossover SUV class. Hyundai says the tow rating is good for small boats and weekend toys.

Overall cargo room is up to 80 cubic feet from 71.5 cubic feet in the Sport. The 40.9 cubic feet behind the Santa Fe’s second row is bumped from the Santa Fe Sport’s 35.4 cubic feet. What’s most differentiating between the Santa Fe vehicles is the third row with room for two passengers who have their own standard climate controls. Both rows fold for additional cargo room in varying split combinations. The second-row bench folds in a 40/20/40 split, just like the Sport, and the third row is split 50/50. Out back, there’s a large storage bin hidden beneath the rear cargo area.

The Santa Fe comes in entry-level GLS and higher-optioned Limited trim levels. Standard equipment for GLS models includes the typical power windows and locks and tilt/telescoping steering wheel, as well as 18-inch wheels, second- and third-row climate vents, Bluetooth connectivity, third-row climate controls, stain-resistant fabric, Blue Link emergency communication system and a USB input with iPod control. Choosing the Limited trim adds leather seating, 19-inch wheels, proximity smart key with push-button start, dual-zone front automatic climate control, power liftgate, captain’s chairs with seating for six and heated side mirrors, among many other features.

Option packages on the GLS add the Limited’s features to the entry-level model, examples include heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, fog lights and automatic headlights. Navigation is optional on both models and pairs with an 8-inch screen and backup camera. An Infinity audio system and panoramic moonroof round out some of the premium options available.

Santa Fe pricing will be announced closer to the SUV’s release in early 2013, Hyundai says.

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