Easy Entry Through Overlapping Doors - 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Long-Term Road Test

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Long-Term Road Test

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe: Easy Entry Through Overlapping Doors

November 6, 2013

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

I'm not aware of an agreed-upon term for the door design employed by the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe. And even if there was one I think some explanation would still be necessary.

You could call them any number of things: overlapping doors, rockerless doors, narrow-sill doors. These terms all apply, but what do they mean?

Most doors are cut into the body. By that I mean the opening doesn't go all the way to the bottom. There's a visible cut-line with a rocker panel just below. The doors open to reveal a full-width sill.

The Santa Fe doesn't have any of that. It's got rockerless narrow-sill overlapping doors that offer many practical advantages.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

For one, they look better. The lack of a cut line eliminates another unsightly seam even though this isn't as easy to appreciate in this case due to the presence of gray cladding.

Second, the hidden sill is narrower by the thickness of the lower door, which makes it easier to get in, especially if you're not as flexible as you once were.

But the biggest advantage is this design's elimination of what I call "Minnesota winter job interview syndrome", which is closely related to the "Oregon off-road pant-leg effect" that I studied this summer.

In both cases the overlapping door is the primary depository of encrusted slush, silt or mud. Open the door and that junk swings away with it to reveal a clean and dry sill that won't transfer much (if any) crud onto your dress pants or blue jeans when you clamber in or out.

Hyundai's Santa Fe is by no means the only vehicle with this feature. Our Ford Flex had it, the Toyota Venza has it and there are other examples. Overlapping doors are far from universal, but the design is gaining ground.

If the idea appeals to you, it's easy to spot even if there isn't yet a catchy, self-explanatory name for it. Simply examine the cutline or, better yet, open the door.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing


  • 7driver 7driver Posts:

    Looks like your CX5 has it too, as does your recently departed CR-V. Your MDX might, but there aren't enough pictures that I can really tell.

  • hank39 hank39 Posts:

    Pardon my ignorance, but even with the detailed description, I'm not getting what's different between this door from others.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @hank39: To put it bluntly, the bottom of the door, instead of terminating above the car's rocker panel, actually reaches the bottom of the car. Take for example (and I'm just picking one car out of the fleet) the Passat. The door bottom terminates before

  • legacygt legacygt Posts:

    My CX-9 has these doors and I agree with all the benefits outlined here. I will share two drawbacks that are worth noting as well. By wrapping around, the door extends lower (below the sill height) than it would on a more traditional design where the bottom of the door would end at the sill height. Why does this matter. If you park next to a high curb or a tree well or other obstruction you might not be able to open the door. This doesn't happen often but in NYC I can't be picky about my parking spots and I've found myself having to climb out the passenger side on more than one occasion where a more traditional door would have been able to open. The other downside is that I've noticed than in rain or slushy snow conditions, the doors transmit a lot of the splashing noise up into the cabin. This might only be the case with the CX-9 where the doors really wrap around the underside of the car.

  • banhugh banhugh Posts:

    The seam argument is moot as there is a line defined there anyway from the black plastic and the white paint, similar to the would be rocker panel...

  • legacygt legacygt Posts:

    @banhugh. Not so. If the door was of a more traditional design, the door would end below the area where the white paint meets the black plastic. You would see that line and then another cut line lower down separating the black plastic on the door from bla

  • hank39 hank39 Posts:

    @duck87: Thank you for clarifying the post. I got it now. Interesting thing is that I went and looked up pics of the Kia Sorrento (which is the Santa Fe's cousin and built at the same LaGrange Kia plant) and it has doors that do NOT go all the way to th

  • actualsize actualsize Posts:

    @legacygt: yes, that can be a disadvantage, though I've only had it happen once where the curb or adjacent lawn atop the curb was particularly high. The noise thing is specific to particular seal designs that will vary from application to application, I t

  • explorerx4 explorerx4 Posts:

    This design has been around for a while. 2011 Explorer, off the top of my head.

  • tysalpha tysalpha Posts:

    I wish they could make the doors like this on cars, too. Except for banging the doors into curbs, which would be a problem.

  • hybris hybris Posts:

    My 1999 F150 has this as well and my fathers even older 1991 MB 350SDL has this as well.

  • actualsize actualsize Posts:

    @tysalpha: I think you explained why they don't have them yourself. Sedans and coups sit low enough that the curb issue is more significant. Taller SUVs and crossovers have more body-to-ground clearance to work with.

  • gerardr gerardr Posts:

    Coming late to this party, but it would be greatly appreciated if you list all vehicles with this particular feature. BTW, Consumer Reports calls it a flush or nearly-flush sill. It appears that the 2014 RAV4, CX-5, Highlander, Santa Fe, and a handful of others have this feature.

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