2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Long-Term Road Test

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD: A Minivan Alternative

August 30, 2013

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD

A lot of American families desire the versatility of a minivan but not the stigma that typically comes along it. A common solution for some people is a three-row crossover SUV.

Ah, but which one? Well, the new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe could be an appealing choice.

In terms of outright size, the Santa Fe is on the smaller end of the scale for this class of vehicle. Using Edmunds comparison tool, I loaded up the Santa Fe and compared it to the Chevrolet Traverse, Ford Flex and Nissan Pathfinder. Here's another set with it against the Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander. The Santa Fe is shorter in overall length than most, and its shorter height brings out a wagon-like vibe that's reminiscent of the Flex.

But the Santa Fe is still big enough that you can seat normal-sized adults in all three rows without issue (though, obviously, with decreasing levels of comfort as you move back). The second-row seats also slide up to allow easier access to the third-row. Then there's the strong V6, upscale interior and good outward visibility.

A minivan will always reign supreme for ease of hauling people and cargo, but the Santa Fe is one alternative that I can see families enjoying.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 5,832 miles


  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    I'm surprised that you didn't also do a comparison between the Santa Fe and the different minivans on the market. I did and it showed me that they are almost identical, except that the Santa Fe rides two inches higher than the minivans, while the minivans will be much more comfortable for all, and be a lot easier to use. So basically three row crossovers are good for those who want to give up convenience for this perceived status they consider important. I'm not jumping on the back of anyone who buys them, I'm just saying that there's virtually no logical reason to do so... This reminds me of kids resisting their parent's advice that would make their lives easier, because it would seem uncool.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    "...its shorter height brings out a wagon-like vibe that's reminiscent of the Flex." Except I have ridden in the Flex and it doesn't bottom its rear suspension when you put 2 passengers and a couple of suitcases in it. And yes, minvans are way better and the stigma is in your mind.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    I'm sorry, but I just don't get the 'stigma' thing. What's wrong with minivans? Some of them are quite handsome, they offer powerful V6's and can lay down 0-60 times that would have been respectable for a sports sedan 20 years ago. They are comfortable, handle well, offer plenty of space, and get reasonable fuel economy. Why should people attach a stigma to making a good sound buying decision? Why spend more money on a less efficient (space and fuel) vehicle? Maybe the 'stigma' would go away if auto writers stopped bringing it up every time they write about 3 row crossovers.

  • evodad evodad Posts:

    There is the stigma that is hard for many to overcome, but I've found that if my wife is any indication of the many potential minivan or crossover drivers out there that they feel much safer having awd and it's an option far more accessible in a crossover than in minivans. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I believe the only minivan that currently offers awd is the sienna

  • if all you ever haul is people then the comparison might work. However if you also want to bring some of their belongings the Odyssey in the background in your picture has 38.4 cu ft of cargo space compared to the Santa Fe's 13.5 cu ft. And if you fold the seats down it is 148.5 vs 80. So you lose a couple mpg on the highway and a huge amount of storage space going with the Santa Fe.

  • evodad, Unless you are in a snowy area most AWD anymore isn't full time it only kicks in the rear wheels when the front slip so it doesn't improve handling or emergency maneuvers. And the right tires can make a huge difference.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @zimtheinvader: +1 on the right tires. For adverse weather, I don't need more drive wheels to accelerate, I need more traction for stopping and staying in control. Only the right tires are going to help there.

  • yellowbal yellowbal Posts:

    Minivans are awesome with the sliding doors. Even better are old beat up but reliable minivans. You can park that thing anywhere and not worry about adding an extra ding to the hundreds. New stains are invisible among existing stains.

  • 7driver 7driver Posts:

    If you're worried about space efficiency, why stop at a minivan? Why not step up to a Sprinter? Or a Unimog? Or a Bluebird bus? There gets to be a point where something is too big. A Santa Fe is almost a foot shorter and half a foot narrower than an Odyssey. For someone who considers a minivan too big and a Mazda5 too small, a 3-row crossover might fit the bill.

  • 7driver 7driver Posts:

    In California, you don't buy AWD for traction benefits in the snow. You buy it so you don't have to deal with tire chains.

  • 7driver, the subject of their original post was the Santa Fe as an alternative only to escape the stigma of a mini-van, not as a slightly (and very slightly at that) smaller alternative to a mini van. So it probably should at least be mentioned when comparing interior space that you lose a lot of cargo space.

  • aggie94 aggie94 Posts:

    Compared to the Odyssey, the Santa Fe is 600 lbs lighter, 10" shorter length, 5" more narrow, and 2" shorter height. That is a completely lower class vehicle size, so the smaller interior volume is no surprise. I wish good smaller minivans existed, but they don't. The Mazda 5 is much smaller still. As for fuel economy, the 3.3 is modern plus the lighter weight and frontal area will put the Santa Fe on top of the large minivans. I notice they have the same tire sizes.

  • stever stever Posts:

    Funny that a quick glance at the photos shows that about the only difference in looks between the Santa Fe and the Odyssey are the rear doors/sliders. If Honda hid the sliding track like Caravans do, the Santa Fe owner might just walk up and try to climb into the wrong driver's seat.

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe in VA is:

$129 per month*
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