These days, if it doesn't have three rows, it might as well be a sports car. The scales started to tip sometime in the late '90s and the slide has been continuous; more seats are more better. While modern families have realized the benefits of more seats, they've at the same time turned their backs on the minivans and full-size SUVs that led them to this discovery.
The solution to this problem is the full-size, three-row crossover, and shoppers in this market have a lot to choose from. Buick and Chevy have stellar examples of this breed. Nissan is finally taking it seriously and Mazda, Mitsubishi and Toyota play the game, too. So, everybody has one.
And now, with the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai has an all-new entry that brings its own unique style, feature-rich package, V6 power and low price to a segment already loaded with winners. Can Hyundai impress with its largest vehicle? We added one to our long-term test fleet to find out.
What We Got
Taking a page out of Mitsubishi's playbook, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe lineup consists of two models, the Santa Fe Sport and the Santa Fe. The Santa Fe Sport is a smaller, five-seat crossover, while the larger Santa Fe adds a third row of seats in back.
As you'd expect, there is a price premium for the extra size and seats. The base 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport checks in at $24,700 while the Santa Fe starts at $28,350. Part of this price increase is due to the engine. While the Sport gets one of two available four-cylinder engines, the bigger Santa Fe comes with a 3.3-liter, 290-horsepower V6 hooked up to a six-speed automatic transmission. Depending on trim, this powers either the front wheels or all four.
For our test vehicle, we chose a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD. The Limited edition replaces the second-row bench with a pair of captain's chairs and adds a power tailgate, dual-zone climate control, leather seating, heated second-row seats and a powered passenger seat.
On top of this, we opted for the $2,900 Technology package. This option adds a panoramic sunroof, a 12-speaker Infinity stereo with HD radio, heated steering wheel, rear side window shades and a navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen. This system utilizes Hyundai's new BlueLink infotainment suite that rivals Cadillac's CUE, Ford's Sync and Kia's nearly identical Uvo system found in our Long-Term Kia Forte.
Further options include the $135 carpeted floor mats and the $50 cargo net. Add it all up and factor in the $885 destination fee and this 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe costs $38,790.
Why We Got It
Large six- and seven-passenger crossover vehicles are all the rage now and as such, there's some stiff competition. In our First Drive of the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, we wrote, "Like every other Hyundai in the lineup, it stacks up more than adequately in terms of features for the money. That's typically a winning combination in this segment, provided consumers forget the Veracruz and embrace the new, bigger Santa Fe."
And while we were quick to forget the Veracruz, we're not going to give the rest of the Santa Fe a free pass. Can Hyundai's new people hauler keep pace with today's three-row crossovers? Can it lead? We're also excited to spend 20,000 miles with the much-hyped BlueLink media suite. We've yet to find one of these systems that meets our expectations, so Hyundai's got as good a shot as anyone right now.
We've got 12 months and 20,000 miles with our new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe to answer all of these questions and more. Follow along on our Long-Term Road Test page for updates on this and the rest of our long-term fleet.
Best MPG: 23
Worst MPG: 15.1
Average MPG over 1,223 miles: 18.9
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.