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2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Hyundai, SUV, Test Drives

The all-new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe gets a complete redesign inside and out placing it in a better position to duke it out with the growing competitive crossover SUV segment.  The new 2013 Santa Fe brings forth a unrestrained demeanor yet a civilized ride and the exceptional versatility in the 5-passenger Sport model and 6/7-passenger GLS and Limited trims (due out at a later date).

The new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe begins life with a sleek new body transformed by its larger front grill and visually rearward sweeping sheet metal lines. Distinctive styling attributes add to the Santa Fe’s originality from its squared projector beam headlights to a sporty silhouette.

For 2013, the new Hyundai Santa Fe is offered in a 5-passenger Sport version with two different trims and engine options, while a GLS and Limited trims gets 6 or 7 passenger seating from its 3rd row of seats made available from a longer wheelbase. The Santa Fe Sport gets a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with 190 horsepower and 181 ft-lbs of torque yielding 21 mpg city and 29 mpg city. My 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0 Turbo gets a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged 4-cylinder engine good for 264 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 269 lb-ft of torque at a low 1,750 rpm. You will expect to get an EPA estimated 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway out of the new Santa Fe 2.0T all-wheel-drive model, which nearly matches the less-powerful 2.4-liter engine. I observed a consistent 22 mpg in the city and about 24 mpg highway on my loaded-up Santa Fe Sport 2.0T all-wheel-drive model.

Driving the new 2013 Santa Fe 2.0T is quite rewarding for a crossover that has grown into its largest skin yet. Hyundai engineers were able to reduce body weight by an amazing 333 pounds when compared to the outgoing Santa Fe V6. That weight reduction, however, did not compromise rigidity. In fact, rigidity was increased by 16% allowing the re-tuned suspension system to take on the brunt of the work to smooth out the ride instead of transmitting harshness through a flexing chassis.

Combined with the smooth 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and competent 6-speed automatic transmission, the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T is no pushover when it comes time to move 5 passengers quickly. 0-60 mpg times come in a respectable 6.5 seconds. Though, I tended to be annoyed from a split second of turbo lag when accelerating from a dead stop. The slight hesitation eventually became expected but took some getting used to before the engine starts to hit its sweet torque spot around 1750 rpm.

The new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.0T remains to be civilized in its handling abilities. While the 6-speed automatic transmission does a good job at keeping the 2.0-liter 4-banger in its power band, the remarkable all-wheel-drive system does a lot to manage wheel spin and traction. The optional all-wheel-drive system continually monitors each wheel and reacts with a brake-activated torque-vectoring function along with the stability control system. With all systems working in sync, the AWD management is a seamless wonder proving to be hardly intrusive when you suspect a wheel losing traction. The system, in a way, anticipates traction needs based on previous driving conditions data. Basically, output from each wheel can vary on a continuous basis to provide the optimal grip, even when the axel is locked through a dashboard “diff lock” button.

My only qualms about the new Santa Fe’s performance would be the numb steering feel and slight turbo lag from a dead stop, as mentioned previously. The steering has a set of 3 different settings, comfort, normal and sport. Though all settings are notably different by adding degrees of weight to the steering effort, sport mode fails to add any real sport to the equation. Sure the sport mode may add needed weight to the electric-steering effort, it does not add any extra bit of communication from the road. To sum it up, the steering wheel, every bit of comfortable and versatile as it is, just lacks any real road interaction.

In all, when it comes to a crossover with the right about of road-going prowes for enthusiasts, the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T is the only way to go provided the extra $3,350 is not a deciding factor. For that extra pricing, you will be greatly rewarded with a decent performing crossover SUV, much more capable than the Santa Fe Sport with the underwhelming 2.4-liter engine.

The interior of the new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe takes on a new language expressed by new Hyundai vehicles. This language is easily read and deciphered through soft-touch plastics and excellent fit and finish. All controls are brightly lit and user friendly. The center high-resolution touch-LCD screen is easy to navigate, as well as the optional GPS navigation system. Though, the LCD screen does tend to get washed out somewhat in direct sunlight – either shining through the optional panoramic sunroof or from the front windshield.

Hyundai’s new Blue link telematics is a nice standard touch to the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T. The Santa Fe Sport’s 5-passenger configuration features a good amount of interior room and rear seats that recline and slide forward and aft. Of course in the longer wheelbase Santa Fe GLS or Limited’s 6/7 passenger configurations the middle row will have a bit more leg room.

Comfortable front seating positions can easily be found through a wide angle of recline with more than enough head and leg room. The leather appointed seats in my new Santa Fe Sport 2.0T proved to be comfy on long hauls. Rear storage space is on par with the Santa Fe’s competition with just over 70 cubic-feet when the rear seats are folded down. The only option that I found missing on my test vehicle, more as a creature comfort or show-off item, is the power rear liftgate.

A new enormous sliding and tilt panoramic roof, optional on the new Santa Fe Sport, has more glass than the Atlanta Georgia Aquarium. In a way this is a good thing to give occupants an added value of entertainment or fresh air. On the other hand, let’s hope it does not break as easy as an iPhone dropped on pavement from the 5th floor of a building.

The all-new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport once again reiterates Hyundai’s forward momentum in the automotive industry along with their unparalleled recognition. The styling alone of the new Santa Fe makes a bold statement but never overshadows what Hyundai is attempting to communicate to those who are in the market for a well-built crossover SUV. The Santa Fe combines efficiency, value, advanced safety, and versatility in an affordable package. Fundamentally, you can have your cake and eat it, too.

The new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport starts at reasonable $24,450 while the front-wheel-drive Sport 2.0T trim starts at just $27,700. Expect to pay around $36,000 for a loaded-up AWD Sport  2.0T with all of your favorite bells and whistles. My 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T included the  $2,450 Leather & Premium Equipment Package (side mirror turn signals; leather seating surfaces; powered passenger seat; sliding & reclining rear seats; dual automatic climate control; rearview camera; auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated Homelink and compass; premium sill plates), the $2,900 Technology Package (panoramic sunroof with tilt & slide; navigation system with 8-inch display; XM NavTraffic; Infinity audio system; heated steering wheel; manual rear window sunshades), the $100 Carpeted Floor Mats, the $50 Cargo Net and the $150 Cargo Cover, for an as-tested price of $35,925 including an $825 destination charge.

Copyright: 2012


  • Price: BASE Santa Fe Sport 2.0T $27,700 / As-Tested Sport AWD 2.oT $35,925
  • Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC Turbocharged Inline 4-cylinder 264 horsepower @ 6000 rpm / 269 ft-lbs. torque @ 1750 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 106.3 in.
  • Total length: 184.6 in.
  • Total width: 74 in.
  • Total height: 66.5 in.
  • Track: f/r-64.1/64.5 in.
  • Headroom: f/r-39.6/39.1 in.
  • Legroom: f/r-41.3/39.4 in.
  • Turning circle: 35.8 ft.
  • Fuel tank: 17.4 gallons
  • Curb weight: 3,706 lbs.
  • EPA Fuel mileage estimates: 20 mpg city / 27 mpg highway

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