2013 Hyundai Santa Fe: Joshua Tree Camping Trip Part 1
April 30, 2014
I recently planned a weekend trip to Joshua Tree National Park with some friends and the long-term 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe. From the start, the Santa Fe was at the top of my list. It gobbles up cargo and it has the added benefit of all-wheel drive for any dirt roads we might come across. Last spring I went with this same group of friends to Yosemite in our long-term 2013 Ford Focus ST, but this year instead of renting a house, we were camping. A sporty hatchback wouldn't cut it.
We definitely overpacked (just the way I like it) and since there's no roof rack on the Santa Fe, we stuffed everything in the back. If you fold down the second and third row seats, the Santa Fe has a maximum of 80 cubic feet of cargo space, but with three people we had to leave at least one of the second row seats in place. Tents, sleeping bags, and supplies took up most of the space but I could still see over the stack of cargo through the rearview mirror and nothing would impale us in case of a panic stop. There were about 1,000 pounds of cargo (including passengers) in the Santa Fe and even on long uphill grades the 3.3-liter, 290-horsepower V6 had plenty of passing power.
There are about 170 miles between Los Angeles and Joshua Tree and they flew by without any complaints. The staff at Edmunds has criticized this Santa Fe for poor ride quality, but there wasn't a peep from my passengers. My buddy Greg noted how comfortable the seats were around mile 10, which was about the same time his girlfriend Robin nodded off in the back seat. I agree with Engineering Editor Jason Kavanagh when he says the Santa Fe has "exaggerated ride motions and a lack of body control" but my non-auto-journalist friends didn't seem to notice.
Camp sites in Joshua Tree are on a first-come, first-served basis and when we arrived at the park, availability wasn't looking great. We rolled the windows down and crept along slowly searching for a campsite. Every three minutes, we parked, left the car running, checked the date on occupied sites, and moved on.
Eventually, we found the last available campsite in the park (yes, it really was the last one) and backed the Santa Fe into its temporary home. I was ready to spend ten minutes at the camp site complaining about the suspension, but it just didn't feel necessary. While the ride was a bit bumpy at times, it didn't seem intrusive. Stay tuned for more impressions of the Santa Fe throughout the rest of the camping trip.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor @ 18,950 miles