2013 Hyundai Santa Fe: Poor Ride Quality
March 10, 2014
I hadn't driven our long-term 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe until somewhat recently, when I took it on a trip from Los Angeles to Sonoma and back.
Now, Dan Edmunds took it on a road trip with the family last year and heard (and felt) some complaints about the crossover's ride quality.
When Dan drove it, he had backseat occupants and a family-sized load in the cargo area. On my trip the Santa Fe got an even easier problem statement: two fairly svelte adults up front and the only rear passenger was a 48-pound dog. The third row was empty, and the cargo area had bags weighing no more than 100 pounds all up. Would this lighter load help the ride? And is Dan's derriere hyper-sensitive? Or would his observations be backed up with a different editor at the helm?
Nope, nope, and an empathic yes. The Santa Fe's ride quality was head-scratchingly poor during my trip, even with such a light load. I don't want to find out how much worse the Santa Fe would ride were it stuffed with a full load of adult passengers and gear.
As it is, the Santa Fe's ride quality is wallowy, crashy and underdamped, likely undersprung, and it has too little travel especially in the rear. What this means is that the ride has seriously exaggerated ride motions and a lack of body control. Large dips in the pavement send the rear suspension ricocheting off its bump stops. It's not soft-sprung comfortable, it's nauseating. This big wagon rides like something that never should have left the proving ground.
The morning after my arrival in Sonoma, I noticed the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light was illuminated. There had been a cold snap in California that weekend, and it was now much chillier than when the pressures had been originally set in L.A. Thus, the tire pressures had dropped below the TPMS threshold. Aha, I thought, the underinflated tires must be why the ride was so terrible on the way up here.
But once I re-set the tire pressures (they were low by 4-5 psi), the only difference to the ride quality was that now there was impact harshness to go along with the same wallowy, underdamped nonsense. Hyundai really needs to make another pass at the suspension calibration on this vehicle.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor