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2013 Hyundai Santa Fe - Heels on Wheels Review

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2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

For 2013, the Santa Fe crossover morphed into two separate lengths and powertrains: First, the two-row five-passenger Sport with a 2-liter turbocharged gasoline direct-injection engine; and a new longer wheelbase three-row seven-passenger model with a 3.3-liter V6.

I drove a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe with the 290-horsepower 3.3-liter Lambda II GDI V6 engine paired to a standard six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC and front-wheel drive. Available in two trims – GLS and Limited – standard equipment for the Limited includes: leatherette upholstery; heated front and rear rows; push-button start; a leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; Bluetooth; 4.3-inch audio display; XM Radio; power seating; power liftgate; fog lights; roof side rails; and nineteen-inch wheels. Price as described comes to $33,350.

When it comes to price, style and value, the main competitor really narrows down to Mazda CX-9 – and like the Santa Fe, the CX-7 is a smaller two-row version of virtually the exact crossover. However, the Honda Pilot is also another strong choice using the same shopping criteria.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Inside, the leatherette upholstery is not as fine as the really thing, but like all Hyundai’s your attraction gravitates to the well-executed center-stack layout that is intuitive for even novice tech users. There is a $2,900 Tech Package and I recommend it – you get navigation (including an eight-inch touchscreen); an amazing panoramic sunroof that extends far beyond the second row; an Infinity Logic 7 audio system; a heated steering wheel; and manual rear side sunshades. No rear DVD option for kids with any Santa Fe, however.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is a Top Safety Pick with The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for ratings of “Good” in every crash test area. The vehicle has a 5-Star overall rating with The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Standard safety equipment includes a comprehensive airbag system, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and hill-start assist control.

Cost Issues: The three-row GLS trim starts at $28,600. My Limited with the Tech Package comes to $36,250. A Hyundai Santa Fe Sport with a smaller four-cylinder engine starts at $24,450.

Activity & Performance Ability: The 3.3-liter delivers a smooth ride, but brakes are a tad tight with the Driver Selectable Steering Mode feature honestly not giving back any significant feedback regarding cornering and turns. The biggest snafu in engineering is the lack of optional safety technology like Cross Traffic Alert or even rear sonar backup radars – the newer and longer Santa Fe desperately needs this. I have also test driven the Sport version with the 2.0T four-cylinder engine, this smaller turbocharged powertrain is precise, responsive and commanding.

The Green Concern: The 3.3-liter V6 engine gets 18-city and 25-highway for a combined 21 miles-per-gallon with full-wheel drive (stats drop to 20-combined with all-wheel drive). The 2.0T 2-liter turbo engine with on-demand all-wheel drive gets 19-city and 24-highway for a combined fuel economy of 21 miles-per-gallon – quite subpar for this segment as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Kia Sportage net a combined 25 miles-per-gallon with all-wheel drive.


Interior comfort, space and technology makes the longer wheelbase 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe sing, but lack of much-needed safety technology for a three-row crossover causes quite a sting – good news is the carmaker has addressed this issue and added these features to the 2014 model.

©2013 Katrina Ramser