5,000 Miles - 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Long-Term Road Test

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Long-Term Road Test

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe: 5,000 Miles

August 23, 2013

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

We were somewhere around Cabazon, in the middle of the desert, when our 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe turned over 5,000 miles. With just under two months in the long-term fleet, our six-passenger SUV won't have any problem accruing 20,000 miles in a year. Granted, editor and chief vehicle disciplinarian Dan Edmunds put on most of those miles during an Oregon road trip, but that's likely the beginning of the Santa Fe's service as an interstate adventurer.

I sampled about 300 miles last weekend. I liked the Santa Fe more after this recent seat time than when I first drove it at a Hyundai event a few months ago. During those events, you're lucky to get 100 miles behind the wheel while taking mental snapshots, speaking with engineers and digesting a spreadsheet of specs. But a good handful of long drives and around-town daily uses create a better picture.

At night, for example, the Santa Fe's headlight beams are anemically short, especially on a dark road. The transmission responds slowly when the engine requests more power. When the gearbox does kick down, the engine turns out a raspy wail. The overall ride, as editor Dan has noted, can be harsh over the road's imperfections.

But then, the Santa Fe gives you a lot for the money. Most automakers hate the "V" word, but the Santa Fe loads up the value. Ventilated seats would've been nice during my desert drive, but the heated seats will prove more useful when the mornings turn chilly around here.

I think the multimedia touchscreen is one of the better interfaces out there, manipulating a pretty intuitive menu structure through simple icon-based recognition. I find the Santa Fe one of the least distracting units to work with when it comes to placing a call or searching a smartphone music library.

And finally, the Santa Fe appears to have presence. A gentleman waiting for his BMW 7 Series at the car wash watched the Santa Fe as I drove in. Out in the waiting area, he asked if it was the new Honda. The answer surprised him. Said he thought it was maybe a new Ford at first until he couldn't find a blue oval.

That our Santa Fe could carry six passengers and other models up to seven intrigued him even more, as he was considering off-loading an old Tahoe for something that could carry his immediate family, sometimes the nephews or in-laws (the latter "very occasionally," he added for emphasis), while still offering cargo space for the toys a family collects along the way.

Curious because of the 7 Series, I asked if he'd considered an X5 or Audi Q7. He just sort of dismissed the notion with an "eh" and a wave of the hand, but didn't elaborate. Interpret that how you will, but it was clear the Santa Fe made at least enough of an impression, one of surprise no less, that I'm guessing 7 Series Man will at least check the Hyundai Web site before sending off that Tahoe.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 5,200 miles

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