2013 Hyundai Santa Fe: Road Trip to Laughlin
June 13, 2014
Last weekend, my family and I took a road trip to Laughlin, Nevada. I picked our long-term 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe for the trip, and thought this would be a great chance to get some unbiased opinions about the Santa Fe from non-car-biz people.
The five of us stuffed the Santa Fe with enough luggage for three days, along with a couple of water coolers. Sacrificing one of the rear seats gave us enough space to make it work. The trip was roughly 600 miles, and according to the on-board info display, our average speed was 42 miles per hour. This equates to about 14 hours of driving, plenty of time to get some impressions.
Before we set off, I asked everybody to look for things they did and didn't like about the SUV, and share them with me at the end of the trip.
Piling into the Santa Fe it became obvious (to me at least) that this wouldn't be the best SUV for a family of six to take a long trip.
Although the five of us were able to get our luggage on board without too much fuss, we had to give up a seat to do it. My sister and her husband have four kids. I can't imagine the six of them and their stuff making an overnight trip in the Santa Fe because there simply isn't enough room behind the rear seat to carry six people's stuff. At least not the way we pack.
Hoping to avoid Friday night Los Angeles to Las Vegas traffic, we didn't leave until well after sundown. With the first leg of the trek beginning at night, I had a great excuse to open that mammoth moonroof and star gaze. (Of course I pulled over to do this). I can imagine the Santa Fe being a great vehicle for passengers who like to look at the sky on a clear night. Some campsites in California require you sleep in a car because of mountain lions, and I think the Santa Fe would be a great choice for that type of outing.
My passengers' thoughts:
MJ - Likes: Middle row allows for easy access to third-row seats without having to move seats. Dashboard controls are clearly labeled, organized well, and not cluttered. He also liked the rear sunshades. Dislikes: Rear sunshades are super loud when windows are rolled down. He wasn't a big fan of the way the car handled some of the dips in the road. "I'm bouncing around back here," he said after a particularly bad patch of road (MJ sat in the last row most of the trip.)
LP - Likes: Dropping down the rear seat for storage was very easy, and the navigation system anticipated upcoming traffic and offered options to avoid traffic when possible. Dislikes: Passenger seat had no height adjustment, and she felt like she was sitting low. Also, mentioned that a blind spot indicator would have been a nice addition to the side mirrors.
EP - Likes: Rear sunshades, navigation system. Dislikes: Rear A/C ventilation (not enough air flow). Asked me to say that on the whole, he liked the SUV.
AP: Likes: The extra features like the moonroof, and power tailgate. The power tailgate is helpful when you're lugging an ice chest through a hot Nevada parking lot. Opening the rear hatch remotely and having it ready to accept your load is a welcome extra in 105-degree weather. An extra benefit of opening that tailgate before you arrive is that it releases some of that super-heated air. Dislikes: "Bouncy" feeling in the rear of the SUV, not enough USB hook-ups.
As we were leaving the hotel to start our trip home, I pulled the Hyundai Santa Fe into the shade of the loading area. A guy sitting nearby said to me, "You're from California? I bet that Toyota you're driving saved you some gas didn't it?" When I told him it was a Hyundai, he looked at me and said, "Sure looks good for a Hyundai!"
All told, these last days with the Santa Fe have done little to change my initial judgment of the car. If anything, they have reinforced what I already thought: I like it. It bounces a bit, but I like it. Apparently, the family does too.
Matt Jones, Senior Editor @ 21,941 miles