Poor Ride Quality - 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Long-Term Road Test

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Long-Term Road Test

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe: Poor Ride Quality

March 10, 2014

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

I hadn't driven our long-term 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe until somewhat recently, when I took it on a trip from Los Angeles to Sonoma and back.

Now, Dan Edmunds took it on a road trip with the family last year and heard (and felt) some complaints about the crossover's ride quality.

When Dan drove it, he had backseat occupants and a family-sized load in the cargo area. On my trip the Santa Fe got an even easier problem statement: two fairly svelte adults up front and the only rear passenger was a 48-pound dog. The third row was empty, and the cargo area had bags weighing no more than 100 pounds all up. Would this lighter load help the ride? And is Dan's derriere hyper-sensitive? Or would his observations be backed up with a different editor at the helm?

Nope, nope, and an empathic yes. The Santa Fe's ride quality was head-scratchingly poor during my trip, even with such a light load. I don't want to find out how much worse the Santa Fe would ride were it stuffed with a full load of adult passengers and gear.

As it is, the Santa Fe's ride quality is wallowy, crashy and underdamped, likely undersprung, and it has too little travel especially in the rear. What this means is that the ride has seriously exaggerated ride motions and a lack of body control. Large dips in the pavement send the rear suspension ricocheting off its bump stops. It's not soft-sprung comfortable, it's nauseating. This big wagon rides like something that never should have left the proving ground.

The morning after my arrival in Sonoma, I noticed the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light was illuminated. There had been a cold snap in California that weekend, and it was now much chillier than when the pressures had been originally set in L.A. Thus, the tire pressures had dropped below the TPMS threshold. Aha, I thought, the underinflated tires must be why the ride was so terrible on the way up here.

But once I re-set the tire pressures (they were low by 4-5 psi), the only difference to the ride quality was that now there was impact harshness to go along with the same wallowy, underdamped nonsense. Hyundai really needs to make another pass at the suspension calibration on this vehicle.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor


  • vvk vvk Posts:

    And yet it remains extremely popular and sells exceedingly well.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @vvk: I don't see how that's relevant to these complaints. It certainly doesn't excuse Hyundai from needing to make improvements for the refresh and next generation vehicles.

  • juwu juwu Posts:

    and vvk's comment tells you how much the average buyer considers styling and price over ride and handling. but truthfully how would the average driver be able to evaluate the suspension tuning shortfalls on a 5 mile test drive?

  • nyccarguy nyccarguy Posts:

    @duck87 This Santa Fe might be prettier, have more features, longer warranty, get a few better mpg on the highway, & better interior appointments than a comparable Pilot or Highlander, but suspension tuning seems to be one place where Hyundai falls

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    Do all Santa Fe's ride this way, or just this one?

  • @greepony. I have the same question. I checked the Santa Fe forum, but this is hardly an issue there.

  • vvk vvk Posts:

    duck87, what I mean is that the worst cars are the most popular. By far. Rough riding, loud, unreliable, expensive, unrefined -- millions buy them.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Guys...why do your cars continually pop TPMS lights with 4, 5, 6 psi underinflation readings? Don't you check these cars from time to time, for tire inflation, fluids, etc.? My cars never have tires underinflated like this, and I live in an area where temps vary much more widely than your area, but...I'm hardly checking them every two weeks or anything like that.

  • mieden mieden Posts:

    Im VERY interested for a comparison between this and another Sante Fe. Hyundai couldnt have let these finish development with a suspension as poorly setup as you'll claim. I think there must be a defect with your vehicle.

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