2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Long-Term Road Test

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe: Uncomfortable Ride With Passengers

August 14, 2013

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

The complaints started within the first 50 miles of home and I've been hearing them (and echoing them) all the way to Oregon and back. Our 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe has a habit of bobbing on its rear suspension and hammering at our backsides over swales and waves in the highway. It's bottoming out over pavement features it should absorb, and we're not even full.

This is hard for me to say because I probably know the guys who tuned the suspension. But there simply isn't enough rear suspension "bump" travel, the rear coil springs are too soft and the polyurethane bump stops come in too late and too abruptly. The as-loaded bump-stop photo above was taken with my weight out of the car, too.

Our Santa Fe is the long-wheelbase 3-row 6-passenger version, the one that should have some carrying capacity. But on this trip it's doing far worse than our long-term 2012 Honda CR-V on the same northern California and southern Oregon roads. And the CR-V also excelled when I drove it at speed over much larger swales and deeper dips on uneven dirt roads in Nevada with heavier passengers on board, to boot.

The Honda CR-V was comparatively unfazed when fully loaded, even with an added burden of a rooftop cargo box, but here in the partially-loaded Santa Fe I find myself yelling "bump!" so my passengers can brace themselves. They've replied with a chorus of "Ow!" on more than one occasion.

The combined weight of the four of us weighs LESS than any three of the four adults that were on board during the Honda excursion in Nevada. The luggage load was about the same in both cases, even though the Santa Fe looks less tightly packed because it offers more space.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

According to the door plate our 3-row Santa Fe Limited AWD has a GVWR of 5,622 pounds. Its rated curb weight is 4,068 pounds. But options (especially that panoramic sunroof, methinks) bring its actual as-measured curb weight up to 4,297 pounds. That leaves us a 1,325-pound surplus for payload.

I won't tell you what the wife and kids weigh individually, but I can say the four of us weigh 577 pounds with shoes and jackets on. I'm good for 225 of that. And I weighed each piece of luggage: 155 pounds total, evenly distributed atop the stowed third-row seat.

Our bottom-line burden comes to 732 pounds. Compared to 1,325 pounds of payload that means we're using just 55% of the available capacity. Theoretically, this means there's more than enough left over to absorb the 500 pounds of tongue weight that would come along with the 5,000-pound trailer the Santa Fe is rated to tow, should we choose to connect one.

We don't have a hitch or a trailer, but the point is this: We're not full. Not even.

But the Santa Fe doesn't seem to know that. Its rear suspension is treating us like we're on the ragged edge, even though we have two empty third-row seats and a pair of skinny teenage girls in the middle row.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

What would help? It'd try firmer rear springs, maybe progressive-rate ones. Taller bump stops that came in earlier (and more gently) might pair nicely with those.

But I wouldn't touch the damping; it's pretty good. Besides, cranking down on the shocks without dealing with the springs wouldn't solve the problem. Our Santa Fe Limited rides decently when it's not running out of rear travel, with one aboard and no luggage, for example.

As for me, I won't be signing this one out for multiple road trips like I found myself doing with the 2012 Honda CR-V. It's one and done for me.

Too bad. I admire the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe in so many other ways.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 4,156 miles

Most Recommended Comments

By fordson1
on 08/14/13
12:39 PM PST

Said it before; say it again...Hyundai/Kia are great with interior stuff, infotainment, content, warranty...not so great with making x horsepower feel like x horsepower, making a given suspension configuration perform up to potential.

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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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