2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

Updated: November 30, 2012
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

The Hyundai Santa Fe mid-size crossover utility is all-new for 2013, built on a new lighter-weight, higher-strength platform. The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe comes in two handy family sizes.

The two-row, five-passenger 2013 Santa Fe Sport, about the same size as the outgoing 2012 Santa Fe, competes in the fast-growing field of domestic and import compact crossovers that includes the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Edge, Toyota RAV-4, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Murano.

The larger, three-row, six- or seven-passenger 2013 Santa Fe is 8.5 inches longer on a 3.9-inch-longer wheelbase to take on the Chevy Traverse, Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and Mazda CX-9.

The compact Santa Fe Sport fits neatly between Hyundai's smaller Tucson and the larger Veracruz. The long-wheelbase (LWB) Santa Fe will replace the Veracruz. Santa Fe (and Tucson) are crossover utility vehicles, or CUVs, meaning they are car-based sport utilities, essentially tall wagons, which offer more car-like driving dynamics and fuel efficiency than truck-based SUVs.

Two engine choices are available in the Santa Fe Sport: a 190-hp 2.4-liter non-turbo inline-4 and a 264-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The LWB Santa Fe comes with a 290-hp 3.3-liter V6. All three engines benefit from high-pressure gasoline direct injection (GDI) and drive through 6-speed automatic transmissions with SHIFTRONIC manual capability, and all models offer available Active Cornering Control (ACC) all-wheel drive.

EPA fuel economy ratings range from 22 City, 33 Highway, 26 Combined for the base front-wheel-drive four-cylinder Santa Fe Sport to 19/26/22 mpg for the LWB FWD Santa Fe with its V6.

Hyundai's ACC all-wheel drive continuously monitors driving conditions and enhances stability by managing brake and engine torque and vectoring one or the other toward or away from individual wheels to balance side-to-side and front-to rear traction. The result is improved cornering stability, reduced understeer (loss of front-wheel traction) or oversteer (loss of rear-wheel traction) to help the driver maintain control in tricky conditions. Standard Hillstart Assist Control (HAC) minimizes roll-back on steep uphills, while Downhill Brake Control (DBC) manages speed and enhances control on steep descents.

To our eyes, this new Santa Fe is a handsome piece that's more distinctive than most of its compact CUV competitors. Its styling follows Hyundai's recent fluidic sculpture design direction, though slightly toned down from the level of boldness that has helped lift the company's Sonata to a major player in the super-competitive mid-size sedan segment.

The 2013 Santa Fe's new interior is modern and stylish, with an obvious focus on soft-touch materials and thoughtfully arranged, well-marked controls. The base Santa Fe Sport offers YES Essentials stain-resistant cloth seats, a trip computer, Hyundai Blue Link (similar to GM's OnStar) safety and convenience connectivity and a 40/20/40 split folding second-row seat to accommodate skis, golf clubs or surfboards along with one or two rear passengers. The Sport 2.0T and Santa Fe add more equipment, and a plethora of comfort, convenience and communications features, some exclusive, are available.

The longer Santa Fe boasts 1.9 inches more second-row legroom and 5.6 cubic feet more total cargo capacity than the shorter Sport does. Santa Fe comes with second-row climate controls and vents and a 50/50 split folding third seat with 31.5 inches of legroom. The second row is the 40/20/40 split folding bench in the GLS trim, twin Captain's chairs in the Limited.

The new, lighter structure is built with 37.7 percent high-strength steel, part of the reason the base Sport model is some 266 pounds lighter than the outgoing 2012 Santa Fe and the LWB Santa Fe nearly 400 pounds lighter than the Veracruz it will replace. This also makes it stiffer, which enhances both ride and handling for driving enjoyment, and better manages crash energy should something bad happen. The suspension is lightweight MacPherson struts in front, independent multi-link in back, with stabilizer bars at both ends.

We found our test Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T fully competitive and pleasant to drive. Its performance was impressive when needed, its ride was smooth and controlled over most surfaces, its braking was strong and stable, and its handling was at least as good as most competitors in its class. Aside from a few minor niggles, our only disappointment was averaging 21-22 mpg in mostly freeway driving, well short of its 27-mpg highway government rating.

Model Lineup

The 2013 Santa Fe comes in two lengths and four powertrain/trim variations.

Santa Fe Sport, the two-row version, is offered in base four-cylinder ($24,450) or 2.0T ($27,700) turbocharged versions, the latter with more standard equipment. Santa Fe Sport comes standard with 6-speed automatic transmission with a fuel-saving Active ECO mode.

Santa Fe, the long-wheelbase, V6-powered, three-row version is offered in GLS and Limited trim levels.

All models are available with all-wheel drive ($1,750).

Standard equipment on the Santa Fe Sport includes YES Essentials stain-resistant cloth seats, two-way power-adjustable lumbar support for the driver's seat, air conditioning with cabin air filter, power windows, locks and mirrors, electric power steering, trip computer, outside temperature display, tilt and telescoping three-spoke steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, AM/FM/CD/XM/MP3 six-speaker audio with iPod/USB/Aux input jacks and a three-month XM Satellite Radio trial subscription, 40/20/40 split folding second-row seat, windshield wiper de-icer, rear window wiper, Hyundai Blue Link connectivity with up to a one-year free subscription, P235/65R17 all-season tires on 17-inch alloy wheels, a multitude of handy storage bins, pockets and cup holders, under-floor storage in the cargo area and four 12-volt power outlets.

Santa Fe Sport 2.0T adds an eight-way power driver seat with four-way adjustable lumbar, heated front seats and outside mirrors, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, front fog lights, chrome twin-tip exhaust, roof side rails, proximity key entry with pushbutton start, automatic headlight control, driver-selectable steering modes (DSSM), P235/55R19 tires on 19 inch alloy wheels, an electroluminescent gauge cluster and a trailer prep package. Saddle interior trim is available at no extra cost.

The seven-passenger Santa Fe GLS rides on 18-inch wheels and tires and offers the 2.0T's features minus the power driver's seat, heated front seats, proximity key, automatic headlamps, heated outside mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer, roof side rails and leather-wrapped wheel and shift knob.

Santa Fe Limited restores those items and adds leather-trimmed seats and door panels, twin second-row Captain's chairs, 19-inch wheels and tires, dual-zone front automatic climate controls with a CleanAir ionizer and a 4.3-inch color audio system touchscreen with a rearview camera.

Options include the Popular Equipment Package ($950), which adds most of the 2.0T's features to the base 2.4L Sport. The Leather and Premium Equipment Package ($2,950) piles on the leather interior, proximity key, a power front passenger seat, sliding and reclining second-row seats, heated rear seats, dual-zone climate control, the 4.3-inch touchscreen audio display and rearview camera and more. A Technology Package ($2,700) completes the feature list with satellite navigation with an eight-inch touchscreen, Dimension premium audio, a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel and manual side-window sunshades. The latter two packages are also available for the 2.0T Sport, except that the Leather/Premium set costs $500 less because that model already has some of its equipment, and the Technology Package $200 more because it substitutes a 550-watt 12-speaker Infinity Logic 7 surround-sound audio system for the Dimension premium audio. Stand-alone options include a cargo net ($50), carpeted floor mats ($100), a cargo cover screen ($150) and remote engine start ($350).

Standard safety features include the mandated dual front airbags plus side-curtain airbags for head protection, side-impact airbags for torso protection and a driver's knee bag. Active safety features include Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control, anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist, Downhill Brake Control (DBC) and Hillstart Assist Control (HAC), a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Front Seat Belt Pretensioners, a windshield wiper de-icer, a rear window wiper, Lower Anchors and Upper Tether Anchors (LATCH) and Hyundai Blue Link connectivity with up to a one-year free subscription. All-wheel drive ($1,750) and a rearview camera are available, the latter as part of a Leather and Premium Equipment Package ($2,950). Not yet available are such state-of-the art features as lane departure and blind spot warnings, active cruise control and collision avoidance systems.

Walkaround and Interior


Hyundai further defines the Santa Fe's Fluidic Sculpture design language as Storm Edge because it seeks to capture the types of strong, dynamic, constant-motion shapes created by nature during a storm. We see it as handsome, dynamic and more distinctive than most other entries in its class.

Its three-bar hexagonal grille and wraparound headlamps (with LED accents) lead to a rising beltline and that sweeps upward to a stylishly narrow third window and a standard rear roof spoiler. The rockers bulge between bold, round wheel arches, while a sculpted character line runs through the front chrome door handles, then hops over the rear handles to frame the upper surface of the taillamps, which wrap well into the rear liftgate.

Distinguishing the three-row LWB Santa Fe from its two-row Sport stablemates are a four-bar grille and different lower front valence/park lamp treatments in front and different taillamps and dual exhausts (vs. twin passenger-side tips on the turbocharged Sport 2.0T or a single outlet on the base model). Most important, the three-row Santa Fe's side character line is flatter, and its side glass extends to incorporate a larger third window, which emphasizes its additional length and passenger capacity.

Interior Features

The 2013 Santa Fe plays a digital tune when you boot it up, and again when you shut it down. That may be charming at first but could get annoying over time. The proximity key lets you walk up and push the the front door handle's touch button to unlock the door, then get in and start the engine while keeping the fob in your purse or pocket, and the push-to-start button has On, Off and Acc lights to let you know its status. But we found the engine temperature, gear selection, fuel gauge and outside temperature read-outs too dim to read easily through sunglasses in bright sunlight.

We found the front bucket seats comfortable and easy to adjust, but rear-quarter visibility from the driver's seat was hampered by the narrow rear side windows.

The sliding second-row seats fold down easily, but not quite flat. The outside ones flop forward using either levers on their sides or pull handles in the cargo area, while the central section that doubles as an armrest has a release on its upper back surface. Slid fully back, they provide adequate leg- and knee-room for a six-footer to sit comfortably behind another; slid fully forward, they maximize cargo room.

In general, the new cabin is warm, modern and inviting, with lots of soft-touch materials in our leather-lined Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T test vehicle. The panoramic sunroof is huge, and there's sectioned hidden storage under the load floor.

We loved the fact that virtually all buttons and controls are easy to see, read and reach, with good-size white letters and graphics. The three-spoke steering wheel has large, well-marked audio and cruise controls on its horizontal spokes, and phone, voice-command and trip-computer buttons along both lower edges of its V-shaped center hub. On the dash to the left of the wheel are controls for instrument lighting, Hillstart Assist, Active ECO mode, heated steering wheel and the AWD center differential lock. In the vertical stack to the right are the thoughtfully designed and conveniently arranged audio, navigation and climate controls.

The two primary instruments are a large, round tachometer (left) and speedometer (right) flanking the central information/trip computer screen. Inside the tach is a coolant temperature dial and a gear selection indicator, while the speedo houses matching readouts for fuel and outside temperature. The trip computer conveniently displays average and instantaneous fuel economy and range at the same time, and can toggle through other information on demand.

Both sun visors (with vanity mirrors) swing and extend for side sun protection, and there's a sunglasses holder in the overhead between them. A nice touch is convenient placement of two (of the four) 12V outlets flanking USB and Aux ports above a bin under the vertical console. The large, deep console storage box has a small-item tray under its cover, the driver's side console cup holder can accommodate a typical ceramic cup with handle, and the commodious door storage bins can securely hold large cups or water bottles.

Audio volume is controlled by a large central knob, while an even larger one in the climate cluster below it handles fan speed. We appreciated the radio's scan function, too often missing in some modern cars, but there's no knob for station fine tuning, which means that weaker stations are missed while the system electronically seeks and finds the stronger ones. One constant annoyance for iPod users is that the Shuffle function must be reset (a two-step process) every time you re-start the car or change functions or playlists. Most modern systems remember and return to Shuffle (aka Random), as they do the previously set volume and song, but not Hyundai's.

On the positive side, continuing the theme of the surrounding hard buttons, the big audio/navigation touchscreen displays large, easy-to-read and -activate touch pads. The navigation system's function and graphics are outstanding, offering realistic representations of route-related intersections and interchanges. We tried using voice commands to select destinations with mixed results.

Driving Impressions

We drove front-wheel-drive base and turbocharged Santa Fe Sport models on city streets and curvy country roads during a press event, then borrowed a 2.0T AWD example for a few days at home. The base 2.4-liter engine's performance seemed more than adequate on flat roads with light loads, but we recommend the available 2.0T turbocharged four for family excursions, especially in hilly country. Wide-open-throttle zero-to-60-mph acceleration with the former takes roughly nine seconds, while the turbo four is about two seconds quicker.

We found our test Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T pleasant to drive in nearly every way. Its on-demand performance was ample, its ride quiet, smooth and controlled over most surfaces, its braking strong, stable and fade-free and its handling short of nimble but as good as most competitors in its class.

The steering mode settings, selectable via a steering-wheel button, adds 10 percent effort (vs. Normal) in Sport mode (our choice) and subtracts 10 percent in Comfort mode for low-speed maneuvering. And the AWD's Active Corner Control, while transparent to the driver, seemed effective in keeping all four tires firmly planted even when driving aggressively.

Our only disappointment was averaging 21-22 mpg in mostly freeway driving, in line with its 22-mpg EPA combined rating but well short of its 27-mpg highway number.

We have not yet driven the V6-powered, three-row LWB Santa Fe that is scheduled to arrive in early 2013, but we expect it to be as comfortable and quiet but less eager, agile and fuel efficient due to its added size and weight.

Summary, Prices, Specs


Hyundai has made great strides in styling, quality and overall pleasability of its cars in recent years, especially the mid-size Sonata (which shares the Santa Fe's platform) and compact Azera, and these two new entries in the highly-competitive compact/mid-size CUV segment will stand proudly alongside them. They are major improvements over the outgoing 2012 Santa Fe and Veracruz, fully competitive and worthy of consideration.

Veteran automotive journalist Gary Witzenburg filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drive of the Santa Fe Sport near Detroit.

Model Line Overview
Model lineup:Santa Fe Sport 2.4L ($24,450); Santa Fe Sport 2.4L AWD ($26,200); Santa Fe Sport 2.0T ($27,700); Santa Fe Sport 2.0T AWD ($29,450); Santa Fe GLS; Santa Fe Limited
Engines:190-hp 2.4-liter inline-4; 264-hp 2.0-liter inline-4; 290-hp V6
Transmissions:6-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard):dual front, side-curtain and side-impact airbags, plus a driver's knee airbag, VSM, ESC with TCS, ABS with EBFD and Brake Assist, Downhill Brake Control (DBC) and Hillstart Assist Control (HAC), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Front Seat Belt Pretensioners, windshield wiper de-icer, rear window wiper, LATCH child seat anchors and Hyundai Blue Link connectivity with up to a one-year free subscription
Safety equipment (optional):all-wheel drive, rearview camera
Basic warranty:5 years/60,000 miles
Assembled in:Santa Fe Sport: West Point, Georgia; Santa Fe: Korea
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSPR):Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T ($29,450)
Standard equipment:YES Essentials stain resistant cloth seats, power driver seat with lumbar support, heated front seats, 40/20/40 split folding rear seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, driver-selectable steering modes, steering-wheel-mounted cruise, audio and phone controls, AM/FM/Sirius/XM/CD/MP3 audio with iPod/USB/Aux input jacks, Sirius XM 90-day trial (not available in Alaska or Hawaii), electroluminescent gauge cluster with LCD trip computer, Hyundai Blue Link Telematics system (90-day trial), trailer prep package, front fog lights, chrome twin-tip exhaust, windshield wiper de-icer, heated side mirrors, roof side rails, proximity key entry with pushbutton start, automatic headlight control, full tank of gas
Options as tested (MSPR):Leather and Premium Equipment Package ($2,450) includes side-mirror turn signal indicators, leather seating surfaces, power front passenger seat, sliding and reclining second row with cargo area releases, heated rear seats, dual automatic temperature control with clean air ionizer, 4.3-inch color audio display, rearview camera, auto dimming rearview mirror with home link and compass, premium doorsill plates; Technology Package ($2,900) includes panoramic sunroof with tilt and slide, navigation system with 8 inch touchscreen, XM NavTraffic with 90-day trial, 12 speaker Infinity Logic 7 550-watt audio system, heated steering wheel, manual rear side window sunshades; Carpeted Floor Mats ($100); Cargo Net ($50); Cargo Cover ($150)
Destination charge:$825
Gas guzzler tax:N/A
Price as tested (MSPR):$35925
Layout:all-wheel drive
Engine:2.0-liter dohc 16-valve gasoline direct injection turbocharged inline-4
Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):264 @ 6000
Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):269 @ 1750-3000
Transmission:6-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy:20/27 mpg
Wheelbase:106.3 in.
Length/width/height:184.6/74.0/66.1 in.
Track, f/r:64.3/64.7 in.
Turning circle:35.8 ft.
Seating Capacity:5
Head/hip/leg room, f:38.2/56.7/41.3 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m:N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:39.1/55.4/39.4 in.
Cargo volume:71.5 cu. ft.
Towing capacity:1650 Lbs.
Suspension, f:independent, strut, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension, r:independent, multi-link, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Ground clearance:7.3 in.
Curb weigth:3706 lbs.
Brakes, f/r:vented disc/solid disc with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist
Fuel capacity:17.4 gal.
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of November 30, 2012.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 800-633-5151 - www.hyundaiusa.com