2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD SUV (3.3L V6 6-Speed Automatic)
Driven On 7/17/2013
The Santa Fe Limited handles capably and offers enough oomph to go down the road without fuss. It's easy to climb in and out, and it's generally a nice place to sit. The value proposition is also hard to beat. Our main gripe: the rear suspension is weak-kneed with the family aboard.
PerformanceThe Hyundai Santa Fe is a well-rounded family SUV that comes across as coordinated, capable and predictable. Its powertrain is frisky enough to get the job done without fuss.
The long-wheelbase 3-row Santa Fe Limited is a bit heavier than the shorter 2-row Sport, but its 3.3-liter V6 engine moves it along smartly. There's enough on tap to get the job done.
Stops are smooth and sure, and the pedal feels intuitive when driving around town. Our best panic stop ate up 125 feet, a decent performance for an SUV of this size.
The Limited's electric power steering has three effort settings: comfort, normal and sport. The differences are small yet distinct. It responds well and tracks true in all three.
Feels steady and predictable through the bends, even when you hustle it a bit. The tires don't offer a ton of ultimate grip, but nobody expects this family SUV to be a backroad warrior.
The Santa Fe is smooth with a steady throttle calibration and willing automatic. Manual shift mode is handy in the mountains, but requires you to flick the lever to the passenger side.
Listed for 5,000 pounds, but the rear suspension felt too soft to pull that off with some passengers aboard. Trailer hitch concealment panel is provided even if you don't buy the hitch.
Performs well on fire roads. AWD system has a lock button that holds the front/rear torque split at 50/50. There's a hill descent control for steeper downhill sections.
ComfortGreat seats and a quiet cabin. Rides nicely when solo, but sags into the rear bump stops too readily even when moderately loaded. Otherwise, the Santa Fe is comfy.
Nicely sculpted seats stay comfortable and supportive on long road trips, and the seat heaters are robust. The Limited even has middle-row seat heaters. The third row is okay for teens.
Rides smooth when the road is, but the rear suspension bottomed too readily with only four flyweights and some luggage. Unexpectedly under-damped over even moderate dips and swales.
There's a whiff of wind noise from the mirrors, but it's mild. Tire and road noise are nicely subdued, making it easy for front-row occupants to chat with those in the third row.
InteriorFits like a well-tailored suit, with everything where you expect it to be. No hidden surprises, no need for owner's manual consulatations. Narrow sills make it easy to enter and exit. Holds a lot of cargo with the third seat folded, too.
Nicely adjustable seats and a handy telescopic steering wheel. Levers, knobs and buttons stand ready right where you expect them. Navigation system controls work well, too.
Easy access because of narrow sills with overlapping doors. This keeps mud and slush off pantlegs, too. Easy to get to third row between a gap in the middle row captain's chairs.
Pleny of front- and middle-row headroom and legroom. Middle seats slide forward if anyone sits in the third row. Optional front-to-rear Panoramic Sunroof increases the feeling of space.
Generally good sightlines all around, and the backup camera is a help in parking spaces. The low-beam headlights, on the other hand, don't penetrate very far on dark roads.
The Limited swallows 80 cubic ft. with the third seat folded. Up front you'll find generous door pockets and a modest-sized center console box. No central cupholders for the middle row.
ValueThe new Santa Fe is yet another Hyundai product that pleases without taking a big bite out of your wallet. Value is something that Hyundai does well.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Built with nice materials and the panels fit together with consistently small gaps. Manages to have a little flair, too.
The Limited comes nicely loaded. Our only option was the $2,900 Technology package, which includes navigation, the massive sunroof, 12-speaker Infinity stereo and rear side shades.
The $35,700 price seems reasonable for a top-trim 3-row SUV with all-wheel drive. Our Limited had leather, rear buckets, hill descent control, rear heated seats and rear vents.
The V6 AWD Limited is rated at 20 mpg Combined (18 city/24 highway). These numbers seem attainable. We averaged 21.6 mpg on a long road trip with a best tank of 25 mpg.
Hyundai's 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty are pretty hard to beat.
Comes with 5 years of roadside assistance. Hyundai parts and service are not terribly expensive after the long warranty expires.
Fun To DriveThere's enough life and convenience here to keep the driver from working too hard, and the rest of the family will be well cared for while they look out the windows. Road trips are fun, and the Santa Fe does them well.
A good family road trip car if the roads are smooth, but that bottoming issue wears on you. The huge sunroof is a requirement for touring national parks like the Redwoods.
It's a family hauler through and through, but that bold face makes it impossible for anyone to confuse it with a minivan.
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