2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T SUV (2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo AWD 6-speed Automatic)
Driven On 9/18/2012
The Santa Fe Sport is a classy SUV with capable handling, peppy turbocharged four-cylinder power and a comfortable ride and interior. Aside from its tremendous warranty and styling, no one area stands out, but taken as a whole, the Santa Fe is a strong offering.
PerformanceThe Santa Fe isn't as sharp of a handler as, say, the new Ford Escape, but it's right there with most SUVs in its class. We enjoy the spirited nature of the turbo-four. But what we really like is the Santa Fe's overall driveability.
The turbo-four won't blow you away with acceleration, but is more than adequate. Quick-reacting automatic transmission could use throttle blipping. Engine noise isn't obtrusive.
Braking performance was only average during panic stops at the test track. Around town the jump-in point was linear. But the brakes never feel overly powerful.
Steering doesn't want to stay on-center, causing some odd wandering on the highway. Also doesn't return to center naturally. Once in a turn, however, build-up is more intuitive.
Tight, confident with good turn-in, even a bit pointy. Feels lighter on its feet than it is, and not as top-heavy as the high-ish driving position makes you feel.
Nicely damped throttle calibration for abrubt-free take-offs. The automatic transmission is smooth, steering is light and easy, just how most people seem to like it.
ComfortThe Santa Fe offers slightly above average comfort, from its plush ride to its comfortable seats to the quiet cabin. In terms of sound quality there's no doubt this is a four-cylinder, not a V6, but regardless, it's still notably quiet.
The seats certainly aren't what we'd call plush, and the surface is a bit slippery, but we spent four hours straight in them without experiencing any numbness.
The Santa Fe has a very nice ride without being overly floaty. It soaks up most bumps with relative ease, and notably little harshness finds its way into the cabin.
Wind noise is exceptionally absent, despite large mirrors and an expansive windshield. The turbo 4-cylinder is quiet even under full throttle. Some tire noise, but not excessive.
InteriorThis is a nicely styled, well-thought-out interior with plenty of large buttons and knobs. Materials are average, and the door/center armrests could use more padding. We like the easy-folding rear seats with optional reclining seatbacks.
The controls make sense, with a mixture of mainly buttons but also knobs. Would prefer a stereo tuning knob. Controls have a damped feel to them. You'd better like blue lighting.
The high roof makes it very easy to get into the front seats, the floor at perfect step-in height. The rear doors open pretty wide, although they aren't very large.
Plenty of front head- and elbow room, more limited shoulder space. Excellent rear headroom, good foot room. Rear seat has a fold-down center armrest, and rear seatbacks recline.
Narrow A-pillars, expansive windshield and tall front/side windows. But the rear sweeps up dramatically with thick D-pillars, hurting rear/side view. Rear camera is optional.
You can't raise both rear seatbacks from the same side. Plenty of luggage space, plus cool under-floor stowage for the cargo cover. Reasonably useful door pockets.
ValueAs usual for Hyundai, the Santa Fe offers good value. Its warranty is fantastic, fuel mileage is decent. But most of the cool features on our test vehicle were optional, not standard. And our tester was plagued with quality issues.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Despite what looks like a high-quality cabin, our Santa Fe exhibited a rattle/squeak from the passenger-side B-pillar area, a difficult-to-open glovebox and a creaky dash.
A cool standard feature is the stowable cargo cover under the floor. Reclining rear seatbacks, side-window sunshades and leather seats are part of optional packages.
The Santa Fe Sport comes with all your iPod ports and jacks, heated front seats, push-button start and AWD for $29,450. Two option packages bumped our test car to $35,925.
The EPA rates the Santa Fe 2.0T AWD at 19 city/24 highway/21 mpg combined. We averaged 20.8 mpg. Anytime we best the EPA city mileage, which we did here, we're pretty happy.
The Santa Fe has a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty. These are nothing less than the best in the industry.
The Santa Fe comes with 5 years/unlimited miles roadside assistance, but does not have any kind of free maintenance program.
Fun To DriveWe like this turbo-four, but there's nothing truly fun to drive about the Santa Fe. At least the handling is on the spirited side for an SUV.
Aside from the disappointing squeaks and rattles, the Santa Fe gives a good driving experience with a nicely laid-out interior, comfy ride and smooth turbo power.
The turbo-four provides some personality versus a V6. In fact, it's so smooth that many buyers might not even realize it uses a turbo to gain the extra power.
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