2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious interior
  • Sport model's strong and relatively economical turbo engine
  • available third-row seating
  • lengthy warranty.
  • Weak base engine with little fuel economy benefit
  • poor rearward visibility.
List Price Range
$8,500 - $17,998

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The redesigned 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe has what it takes to unseat the class-leading crossovers, with quality, power, comfort and style.

Vehicle overview

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Whether it's a friendly Nigerian prince offering you the deal of a lifetime, a free Apple iPad or a delicious zero-calorie dessert, these opportunities are illusions. But if someone tells you about a crossover utility that offers a decent amount of luxury, tons of features, surprising amounts of performance, and also does so without breaking the bank, you can actually take them at their word. Well, if they're talking about the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, that is.

Capping off what has been an epic march up the rankings for Hyundai, the redesigned 2013 Santa Fe adopts the company's "fluidic sculpture" design with favorable results. For the first time, Hyundai is also offering two models of this crossover. The Santa Fe GLS and Limited now feature a third row of seats, increasing the passenger count to seven (or six in the case of the Limited) and effectively replacing the outgoing Hyundai Veracruz. But if you see little need for that sort of capacity, you're in luck, as Hyundai also offers the slightly shorter, five-passenger Santa Fe Sport with two rows of seats.

Under the hood, Santa Fe Sport buyers have the choice of either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a more powerful, turbocharged 2.0-liter four. Given the choice between a marginal gain in fuel economy versus a significant boost in output, the turbo is our engine of choice. The three-row Santa Fe models come standard with a 3.3-liter V6.

Whichever version you choose, you'll no doubt appreciate the cabin's clean and modern design, intuitive controls and extensive number of standard and optional features. Furthermore, passengers in the first two rows will enjoy spacious accommodations that are suitable for taller adults.

There are some very desirable choices for a crossover SUV this year. The Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape and Honda CR-V are all excellent choices for a five-passenger model, while the slightly bigger Kia Sorento is a standout for seven-passenger seating. If you can spend a bit more and want more room, the slightly larger Nissan Pathfinder is worth a look. Overall, though, the Santa Fe is a top-tier choice in any of its available seating and trim configurations.

In the case of the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, you really can believe the hype.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe models

The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is a six- or seven-passenger SUV that is available in GLS and Limited trim levels. The smaller Santa Fe Sport seats five and is offered in base and 2.0T trims.

Standard features on the base Sport model include 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, cruise control, a trip computer, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone connectivity, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system and a six-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite radio and USB/iPod integration.

To this, the optional Popular Equipment package can be added, which includes automatic headlights, foglights, heated mirrors, roof rack rails, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats and an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with power lumbar support).

The Sport 2.0T adds all of the above, along with a more powerful turbocharged engine, 19-inch wheels, an upgraded gauge cluster and information display and keyless ignition/entry.

The Santa Fe GLS is similar in feature content to the base Sport model, but gains a longer wheelbase, a V6 engine and 50/50 split-folding third-row seats. Also added are 18-inch wheels, foglights and a sliding feature for the second-row bench seat.

The range-topping Limited essentially includes all off the 2.0T and GLS features, but seating is reduced to six, as the second-row seats are replaced with two captain's chairs. Other additions include a power liftgate, windshield wiper de-icers, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated second-row seats, driver seat memory functions, a power passenger seat, upgraded interior trim elements, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 4.3-inch touchscreen audio display and a rearview camera.

Some features are offered as options on supporting trims as part of bundled packages. Most notably, a navigation system is offered on all trims and is also paired with an 8-inch touchscreen display, a rearview camera and a premium sound system (a Dimension system for the Sport and GLS or a 12-speaker surround-sound Infinity system for the Sport 2.0T and Limited). A panoramic sunroof is available on all but the GLS. All trims can be optioned with a heated steering wheel. Finally, a blind-spot monitoring system is only available on the Limited.

2013 Highlights

The Hyundai Santa Fe has been redesigned for 2013, with both a seven-passenger, long-wheelbase model and a five-passenger Sport version.

Performance & mpg

Powering the base 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 190 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. As with all other Santa Fe models, front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional. The only available transmission is a six-speed automatic. Fuel economy estimates are quite good, with an EPA-rated 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg in combined driving for the front-drive and 20/26/22 mpg for the AWD.

The Santa Fe Sport 2.0T receives a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that increases output to 264 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy drops only slightly; the EPA estimates 20/27/23 mpg for the front-drive and 19/24/21 mpg for the AWD. In Edmunds performance testing, an AWD 2.0T Santa Fe accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, which is on the quick side for this class of crossover.

The larger GLS and Limited models benefit from a 3.3-liter V6 that produces 290 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque. EPA estimates are 18/25/21 with front-drive and 18/24/20 with AWD. In Edmunds testing, an AWD Santa Fe Limited went from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, a good time for a seven-passenger vehicle.

Properly equipped, the V6 Santa Fe models can tow up to 5,000 pounds, while the Sport 2.0T tops out at 3,500.

Safety

Standard safety features for all 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe models include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, front-seat active head restraints, and hill hold and descent control. Also standard is Blue Link, Hyundai's emergency telematics system that provides services such as remote access, emergency assistance, theft recovery and geo-fencing.

In government crash testing, the Santa Fe Sport earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with five stars for total frontal-impact safety and five stars for side-impact safety. Top scores have also been awarded by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which gave the Santa Fe a top "Good" rating in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Santa Fe 2.0T AWD came to a stop from 60 mph in a class-average 127 feet. The heavier Santa Fe Limited actually stopped a bit shorter in 125 feet.

Driving

On either side of the driving spectrum, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe has the potential to impress. As a leisurely commuter and kid shuttle, the ride is luxuriously compliant and the cabin remains whisper-quiet, even at highway speeds. On winding mountain passes, the Santa Fe feels fairly light and sporty for this class of car. There are a couple demerits, however. The steering has a tendency to wander on the highway, and rear visibility is poor due to the Santa Fe's thick rear roof pillars.

We found the Santa Fe Sport's 2.0T engine equally impressive, with a smooth delivery of power that is on par with some V6 engines. As a result, this Santa Fe gets up to highway speeds with authority. Gearchanges can be a bit delayed, but they're so smooth that they'll likely go unnoticed.

With nearly 300 hp on tap, the V6-powered Santa Fe GLS and Limited accelerate with even more authority and minimize the frequent gearshifts that sometimes come with the four-cylinder models. Particularly when compared with the Santa Fe Sport's base 2.4-liter engine, the V6 makes for more relaxed highway travel and a quieter cabin.

Interior

Among the numerous competing crossover SUVs in its class, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe has one of the nicer cabins of the bunch. This is thanks in no small part to its quality of materials, thoughtful placement of controls and overall spaciousness. As we've come to expect from Hyundai, the Santa Fe's cockpit could serve as a benchmark for elegant simplicity in the segment. Switchgear is well organized and legible, while the touchscreen menus and functions are as intuitive as it gets. Build quality in our test car, however, was mediocre.

The front seats are pretty comfortable for longer drives, with enough adjustments to accommodate drivers of all sizes. Second-row passengers will also find the quarters to their liking, with a wide range of recline angle and plenty of head- and legroom for the average adult, even with the optional panoramic sunroof. The longer-wheelbase Santa Fe further enhances second-row comfort with a bit more legroom and a spacious 31.5 inches of legroom for those in the third row, which is competitive with the third-row accommodations in the larger Nissan Pathfinder. Headroom in the Santa Fe's third row is a little pinched, but nonetheless acceptable.

Its ability to haul gear also is an important asset in the Santa Fe Sport, as it boasts a healthy 35.4 cubic feet of cargo behind the second row of seats, while the seven-passenger Santa Fe can hold up to 41 cubes. Bulky items are also loaded with ease, as the second-row seats fold flat to accept 71.5 cubes, putting the two-row Sport right up there with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. The larger Santa Fe can hold up to 80 cubic feet, but if all the seats are in use, you only have 13.5 cubic feet behind the third row.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Bad to the Bone
backtoblack1,12/09/2012
Bought the 2.0T after an extensive search and reading reviews. Test drove the 2013 Equinox, Grand Cherokee, Highlander, RDX, Pathfinder, and Edge and Escape. All were good vehicles but the 2.0T was the most impressive - size, space, speed, gas mileage, amenities, looks and at a decent price. Out the box the 2.0T is an excellent redesign. I am getting about 24 mpg combined after about 700 miles but my goal is to get closer to or exceed the EPA estimated 27 mpg by playing more with the ECO setting. Took a road trip of about 500 miles last weekend and the 2.0T never struggled (no whining at all) when going up hills or passing vehicles going up hills at 75 -80 mph…I was thoroughly impressed.
My 2013 Santa Fe Sport, FWD w/leather
pete3478,10/01/2012
We have owned a new 2013 Santa Fe Sport for one month now. We have traveled from Chicago to Mackinac down thru Wisconsin and a week later from Chicago to Branson, Memphis, Nashville, Gatlinburg and back. Approx. 3000miles all together. On the low side we got 22.5 mpg to 28 mpg on the high side. This was done in moderately hilly terrain and a tight new engine. My wife loves it. The standard 4 cyl engine has good pep and 6 speed transmission works well. A VERY quiet ride for a SUV. Leather seats are comfortable with good adjustments. Handles and brakes with good feel. While the steering is on the light side with not a lot of feel, I personally wouldn't call it dangerous.
engine knock and random codes
bigal78,02/09/2014
Sport 2.0T 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Bought 2013 in January 2014. One week later heard knocking in the engine, took it to dealer was told that the GDI engines make this noise, normal. 2 weeks later took it back as knocking is not normal and there has been numerous reported engine failures with same noise, vehicle throws random emission codes which there is a tsb for but not all dealers know this so I have to put up with a defective SF. I loved it at first but that ended within 3 weeks. I think the 6 cylinders are more reliable than the 4's. Traded in for SF XL limited, has the 6 cylinder. Update Feb 2017; the SF xl limited has performed excellent.
Fun car, great turbo power, lots of features.
djg77,01/30/2013
This isn't a review about mechanical issues since it's too new to tell. I've had my new Santa Fe 2.0T (FWD, base package, no frills) for a couple of weeks now. I love it. It is a comfortable, quiet, fun car to drive. The 270+ hp turbo engine has no problem pushing up the steep inclines of the Texas hill country. It doesn't even blink. You'll take a bit of a hit on gas mileage over the non-turbo model, but it's worth it. The non-turbos are just sluggish. The interior is very comfortable, has great looking trim, and the standard options on the base package are impressive. Heat seaters, power everything, bluetooth, all of the things you want.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover15.1%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
More About This Model

Hyundai's product assault has been incessant over the past few years. In rolling out the new third-generation 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, the company completes a product overhaul as comprehensive and logistically complex as the recent Mars rover landing.

The launch of Hyundai's new midsize tall wagon-cum-CUV is, appropriately, no less convoluted. After all, this compact SUV will serve double duty in the automaker's lineup, poised to do battle with roughly a dozen competitors. Here's how the Santa Fe plans to do it.

Several Variants
The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, seating five, replaces the current Santa Fe. In a few months, a longer-wheelbase version of the Santa Fe with three rows of seating will replace the larger Hyundai Veracruz.

Like the existing Santa Fe, the new Santa Fe Sport will be available with two engines. A 2.4-liter normally aspirated direct-injected four is the base engine, while a turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter four replaces the V6. Either engine can be had with front- or all-wheel drive, while a six-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. The long-wheelbase version of the new vehicle — known simply as the 2013 Santa Fe, sans Sport designation — will be available only with a 3.3-liter V6. Clear as mud?

Generating 264 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, the 2.0T cranks out 10 fewer ponies than this same engine in the Hyundai Sonata. The difference is chalked up to revised intake and exhaust routing and a unique engine calibration. More importantly, the Santa Fe delivers 269 pound-feet of torque between 1,750 and 3,000 rpm, so the shove is in the right place for a family hauler such as this one. In fact, the turbo engine generates more torque than the outgoing V6.

Though the new Santa Fe Sport carries nearly the same dimensions as the outgoing trucklet, it's stiffer and weighs considerably less — some 266 pounds were shaved by sweating the details of the chassis' design and expanded use of high-strength steels. Struts underpin the front end and a compact multilink suspension is found at the rear so as not to intrude on cabin space.

No Shortness of Breath
We drove a 2.0T-equipped AWD Sport through woodsy, hilly Park City, Utah, notable for its power-sapping 8,300-foot elevation. The thin air didn't faze the Santa Fe. Turbocharged engines generate their own atmosphere, so there was plenty of reserve thrust and immediate response any time the car was in motion. The 2.0T is a capable engine, doing its business without a lick of fuss or noise, convincingly nailing the coffin shut on the idea that a V6 is a requirement. As for the 2.4-liter engine, well, we didn't get to drive one of those, or a front-drive 2.0T.

On our drive, the Santa Fe was notable for its quietness. Aside from a faint wind rustle at the A-pillars, little noise comes between you and a conversation with passengers while at freeway speeds. The new chassis feels solid on the road, though the wide C- and D-pillars form a blind spot the size of Oklahoma. A caveat — the roads in this area are generally smooth, so we'll withhold final judgments on ride and noise suppression until we've wheeled this new CUV locally.

Curiously, the electric power steering has three calibrations that can be selected via a button on the steering wheel, all of which are fairly numb. While it could be argued that steering feel isn't high on the priority list of shoppers in the Santa Fe's bread-and-butter segment, we'll point out that the steering-feel-havin' Mazda CX-5 exists and feels considerably more precise from behind the wheel.

Part of our drive route included a loose gravel dirt road to show off the Santa Fe's new more capable AWD hardware. It operates transparently, aiding corner entry and exit by adjusting the amount of torque apportioned to the rear wheels. Still, like most modern crossovers, the Santa Fe is pavement-biased and will be found almost exclusively on freeways and in parking lots. It's no rock crawler, and that's OK.

More Efficient
Fuel economy is the payoff of the lighter chassis, improved aerodynamics and engines. Base 2.4-liter models return 22/33 city/highway mpg (21/28 with AWD), while the 2.0T models deliver 21/31 mpg (20/27 mpg with AWD).

The 4-5 mpg drop for AWD models in freeway conditions is odd, as the AWD system can completely disconnect power to the rear wheels in such conditions and adds just 137 pounds over the front-drive model. Nevertheless, the fuel economy of the new Santa Fe improves on that of the outgoing model in every guise and is among the more frugal in its class.

More Than Clever Math
Inside, the cabin is similarly sharply styled, with improved appointments. There's plenty of space in either row of seating, and the front seats offer respectable long-haul comfort, though the sliding, tilting backseat is on the flat side to accommodate its 40/20/40 folding ability.

In typical Hyundai fashion, features abound. Beyond the long list of standard equipment, options include navigation, a heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, even heated rear seats.

Prices with destination start at $25,275 for a base 2.4 and $28,525 for the 2.0T — add $1,750 for AWD — and rise quickly from there. Adding navigation or the panoramic sunroof to a 2.4-liter model requires three packages totaling $6,600 (or two packages totaling $5,350 on 2.0T variants). There are a lot of other features included in the packages, but flexibility is not one of them.

At this price point, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport lines up directly with segment leaders like the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V. The former also offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, while the latter simply does everything well. The newer, cleverer 2013 Santa Fe measures up favorably to both. If it can deliver on its excellent mileage numbers and remain as quiet as it did on the roads of rural Utah, this Santa Fe could be yet another well-executed piece of Hyundai's grand plan to compete head on with its foreign and domestic rivals.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.

Used 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Overview

The Used 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is offered in the following submodels: Santa Fe SUV. Available styles include Sport 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A), GLS 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 6A), GLS 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl 6A), Limited 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 6A), Sport 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A), Sport 2.0T 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl 6A), Sport 2.0T 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Sport 2.0T 4dr SUV w/Saddle Interior (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Limited 4dr SUV AWD w/Saddle Interior (3.3L 6cyl 6A), Sport 2.0T 4dr SUV AWD w/Saddle Interior (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and Limited 4dr SUV w/Saddle Interior (3.3L 6cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe?

Price comparisons for Used 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe trim styles:

  • The Used 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is priced between $8,500 and$16,998 with odometer readings between 53774 and147031 miles.
  • The Used 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T is priced between $9,288 and$17,998 with odometer readings between 53022 and131596 miles.
  • The Used 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS is priced between $11,500 and$13,995 with odometer readings between 80220 and159402 miles.

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Which used 2013 Hyundai Santa Fes are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe for sale near. There are currently 34 used and CPO 2013 Santa Fes listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $8,500 and mileage as low as 53022 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Can't find a used 2013 Hyundai Santa Fes you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Hyundai Santa Fe for sale - 10 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $19,926.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai Santa Fe for sale - 1 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $11,759.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai for sale - 3 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $23,969.

Should I lease or buy a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Hyundai lease specials
Check out Hyundai Santa Fe lease specials