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2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport CUV Makeover - By Thom Cannell


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (Photo Tom Cannell)


Hyundai’s 2013 Santa Fe Sport is completely new and I believe can go toe to toe with its many CUV rivals…

By Thom Cannell
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

45 million Americans say they are on a diet to shed weight and build muscle. One “loser” is Hyundai’s 2013 Santa Fe Sport CU, it’s been to the gym, had a total body makeover and dropped a whopping 266 pounds. Santa Fe Sport has been recreated, reinvigorated, and head to toe reborn.

The outgoing Santa Fe and its larger Veracruz cousin were competitive in the mid-sized crossover utility vehicle (CUV) segment against Ford Escape and Explorer, Nissan Rogue and Pathfinder, Toyota RAV4 and Highlander. For 2013 Hyundai decided to end production of Veracruz, offering only Santa Fe with two wheelbases and seating arrangements.


2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
	Sport (Photo Tom Cannell) (select to view enlarged photo)

The Santa Fe Sport, is in showrooms now, the larger and longer Santa Fe arrives early next year and is identical from the B pillar (the column behind the front door) except for the grille and fascia. It will feature three rows of seats and a different engine.

Santa Fe Sport is completely new and we believe goes toe to toe with the rivals just mentioned and big names in the European luxury category. It is handsome, nimble, powerful, and exceptionally quiet. As do all Hyundai, Sport offers great value in its price, particularly when its lengthy standard features are considered.

Prices begin at $24,450 for the base FWD (front wheel drive) model equipped with standard 2.4-liter engine and six-speed automatic and go to $29,450 for a Sport with All Wheel Drive, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and six-speed transmission. Unlike some manufacturers Hyundai makes AWD available across the model line, adding about $2000 to the bottom line.

It’s difficult to known how to describe Santa Fe’s appeal, it suits multiple situations. If you’re a family features like stain-resistant cloth seats from Yes Essentials, a fully equipped audio system (AM-FM, CD/MP3, SiriusXM, iPod, USB/Aux inputs), BlueLink Telematics, remote keyless entry, hill start assistance and downhill brake control, and complete air bags including driver’s knee protection might be as important as the available backup camera, Or families might focus on assistive technologies that help with hill starts, assistance in emergency braking and traction control, or better control going down steep hills.


2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
	Sport (Photo Tom Cannell) (select to view enlarged photo)

A techie might favor the Infinity sound system, BlueLink Telematics with smart phone integration, 8” navigation screen and Blue Tooth connection. Sport enthusiasts might be most interested in how the new all wheel drive system reacts (with speed and precision), the 264 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic manual control, or driver selectable steering effort.

If the kids are gone perhaps amenities like in wheel controls for audio, mobile phone, and cruise control might suit you. Trailer preparation, illuminated vanity mirrors in each sun shade, and LED accented headlamps might also sway your vote. For some the standard active ECO system that smooths out throttle application to save fuel could make the sale. We’ll begin by focusing on Hyundai’s weight loss because exceptional body strength and maneuverability are important to every driver and passenger.

Weight loss benefits a car the same as humans. Shedding pounds and adding muscle makes you, or your car, more energetic and powerful. At the start of construction Hyundai set a goal of losing 10% of its body mass, which is as much a nightmare for an engineer as you and I. To make it tragically difficult, product planners added safety features like additional roof strength and knee airbags that weighed 31 pounds; 38 pounds of sound deadening including an undertray and a few more pounds elsewhere. Yes, they were told “lose weight even after we add on 89 pounds!”

Their solution was to use even more high strength steel and smarter engineering. High strength steel is important for safety. For instance by using extremely tough steel you can form a safety cage similar to a NASCAR race vehicle, with

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
	Sport (Photo Tom Cannell) (select to view enlarged photo)

extremely resistant hoops around the windows and doors, and where impact might try to deform into the vehicle.

It surely helps that Hyundai owns its own steel company, replete with 400 engineers. The smart engineering does things like understand where steel needs to be thick, where it can be thinner, then laser weld two different thickness together before a part is shaped. The result will be lighter and stronger. The last few pounds came from little things, like networking most of the electronics, lighter weight suspension parts, even replacing some aluminum parts with lighter, stronger, and quieter engineered resins.

For Santa Fe the outcome was an overall weight loss of 266 pounds and, like the Biggest Loser, with the backpack removed, the vehicle should feel quite frisky with the standard 2.4-liter 190 horsepower Direct Injected engine.

Muscular development followed nontraditional methods. Instead of a V-6 (standard on next year’s longer 6-7 passenger model) Hyundai offers its now-familiar 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged engine on all Sport models. It’s not only powerful — 264 horses and 269 pound-feet of torque — but that power feels more like a V-6 or small V-8 because torque, the power you feel develops just above idle and continues strongly to the red line above 6,000 rpm.

How much difference does a turbo make? If you live at sea level it’s a big difference. In the mountains of Utah where we tested, it’s huge because every 1,000 feet of altitude steals 10% of power. A turbocharger makes up most or all loss by stuffing more oxygen-containing air molecules into the combustion chamber.


2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
	Sport (Photo Tom Cannell) (select to view enlarged photo)

Some of you are wondering about the spa treatment. The face peel and cucumber-over-eyes equivalent is a complete new instrument panel with soothing LED illumination. It’s very bright when needed, and offers a wealth of information in the space between tachometer and speedometer, information that you page through to find what you need whether trip odometers or oil change intervals. Like a spa, the air is filtered and cleaned, and the cooled glove box keeps your tangerine-infused water at perfect temperature.


2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
	Sport (Photo Tom Cannell) (select to view enlarged photo)

Interiors are sleek, yet muscular. The center console expands from the center with dual air ducts at the side of a variety of audio systems in the center.
PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Surfaces are tightly joined and models with cloth feature family friendly YES brand stain-resistant fabrics. Of course you can have heated front seats that move in more ways than Jagger and rear seats that slide, recline, and even have their own heaters. Those rear seats can split 40/20/40 for added convenience in carrying ladders, lumber, or skis. Under the rear floor, beneath the cargo screen is a hidden storage compartment.

Après spa treatments and the months of personal training, Santa Fe emerges lighter, tougher, and better looking. While the elder models remain contemporary, with Hyundai’s fluidic design it is much better looking, though not as edgy as some models. Thus it should remain in style for many years, adding value to your purchase.