By Bob Nagy - Updated Date: 8/27/2012
As it enters its third generation, the Hyundai Santa Fe has been split into two distinct variants: the compact 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and a new, mid-size Hyundai Santa Fe (reviewed separately). Improved in virtually every area over the Santa Fe it replaces, the 5-passenger Santa Fe Sport embodies a new sense of style and offers more sophisticated features than its predecessor along with enhanced performance and commendable fuel economy that give it an even higher profile in the SUV segment. Available with naturally aspirated (Santa Fe Sport) and turbocharged (Santa Fe Sport 2.0T) 4-cylinder engines and the choice of front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), the new Santa Fe Sport and 2.0T will be formidable rivals to competitors like the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Edge, Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV4.You'll Like This Car If...
Anyone seeking a comfortable, capable, feature-rich 5-passenger crossover with commendable fuel economy, distinctive style and strong value will find plenty to like in the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.You May Not Like This Car If...
Buyers with more conventional styling preferences or who require the absolute maximum in cargo or passenger space – including available 3-row seating – will have to look to Santa Fe Sport alternatives, including its corporate cousin the Kia Sorento, its soon-to-launch Santa Fe sibling, or the all-new-for-2013 Toyota RAV4.What's New for 2013
The complete recasting of this compact SUV brings a bolder appearance, impressively enhanced features and a serious dash of performance coupled with a gain in fuel economy to the Santa Fe Sport side of the family. The mid-size 2013 Santa Fe (reviewed separately) replaces the existing Veracruz in the Hyundai lineup.Driving It Driving Impressions
With a new body structure that uses 30 percent more high-strength steel to significantly increase the platform robustness and rigidity while shedding 266 pounds of curb weight, the 2013 Santa Fe Sport delivers a far more engaging driving experience regardless of engine or driveline configuration. Well-measured revisions to the suspension tuning, driver-selectable steering effort and upgraded stopping power coupled with a superior power-to-weight ratio combine to endow this new Hyundai offering with greater confidence and better control. The available Active Cornering Control AWD system further improves that experience regardless of road surface or traction conditions. Although the turbocharged 2.0T variant stands out as the enthusiast's choice for pure fun, all iterations of the 2013 Santa Fe Sport benefit from major noise-abatement efforts that make Hyundai's newest hauler one of quietest and most-refined players in the compact SUV class.
DRIVER SELECTABLE STEERING MODE (DSSM)
Standard on all Santa Fe Sport models and accessed via a button on the steering wheel, DSSM offers three different power-steering assist programs. The baseline "Normal" effort is reduced by 10 percent when the city-oriented "Comfort" mode is selected and increased by 10 percent in the "Sport" setting, which provides a more positive feel when negotiating twisty roads or during high-speed freeway cruising.
ACTIVE CORNERING CONTROL ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Optional on the Santa Fe Sport and Sport 2.0T, this "intelligent" AWD system integrates with the Vehicle Stability Management system and the antilock brakes. It actively monitors surface conditions and then distributes engine and braking forces to any wheel/wheels to improve cornering as well as fuel economy.
Although its scale remains virtually unchanged, the Santa Fe Sport's well-finished, user-friendly cabin design has a more contemporary look and feel that shares many cues with other current Hyundai products. User-friendly control layouts are complemented by lots of convenient storage areas and the standard seat trim – easy-care Yes Essentials stain/odor-resistant fabric – can be upgraded to leather in either model. Comfortable, well-bolstered front bucket seats team with an adult-capable 40/20/40 rear bench that allows 5.2-inches of fore/aft travel plus a recline function as part of an option package. Dropping the aft seatbacks creates a near-flat floor and expands cargo volume from 35.4 to 71.5 cubic feet.
Introducing the latest chapter in Hyundai's "Fluidic Precision" design language, the 2013 Santa Fe Sport boasts more evocative bodywork than its predecessor as well as class-leading aerodynamics that are further assisted by unseen but highly-effective underbody fairings. The visible transition is most clearly evidenced in the vehicle's dynamic contours and character lines set off by a dramatic greenhouse treatment and well-integrated details highlighted by a bright-finish grille and door handles, LED-enhanced headlights/taillights and a functional rear spoiler. Where the Santa Fe Sport rides on 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/65 tires, the Sport 2.0T matches 19-inch alloys with lower-profile 235/55 rubber.
All Santa Fe Sports net a bounty of power assists, air conditioning, cruise control, a multifunction steering wheel on a tilt/telescoping column, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3/HD audio, iPod/USB/aux inputs, Bluetooth, and Blue Link telematics. The 2.0T adds the Popular Equipment Package (roof rails, fog lights, automatic headlight control, heated mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer, power driver seat, heated front seats, and leather accents), proximity key entry/push button start, electroluminescent instrument cluster, trip computer, and more). Comprehensive safety features include Vehicle Stability Management and Traction Control Systems, Hillstart Assist Control/Downhill Brake Control, 4-wheel antilock discs with Electronic Brake-force Distribution/Brake Assist, and seven airbags.Notable Optional Equipment
Stackable bundling is the rule when it comes to upgrading this new Hyundai crossover SUV. Beyond the Popular Equipment Package outlined above that's available on the Santa Fe Sport and standard on the Sport 2.0T, both offer Active Cornering Control AWD plus a Leather & Premium Equipment Package (leather upholstery, heated front/rear seats, power passenger seat, dual-zone climate control, sliding/reclining second-row seat, rearview camera, 4.3-inch touchscreen color audio display, and more) that can be further enhanced with the Technology Package (a dual-pane Panoramic sunroof, 550-watt/12-speaker Infinity Logic 7 Surround Sound audio, navigation system with 8.0-inch LCD touch screen, heated steering wheel, and manual rear-side window sunshades).Under the Hood
The new Santa Fe Sport offers a pair of Hyundai's Theta II GDI inline-4 engines that also are found in the Sonata sedan. Both direct-injected fours feature continuously variable valve timing to further enhance operating efficiency. The base engine is a 190-horsepower 2.4-liter while the Sport 2.0T carries a 264-horsepower version of the turbocharged 2.0-liter. The sole transmission is a smooth, responsive 6-speed automatic with a Shiftronic manual-style gate. The impressive weight-reduction program imparts a new measure of quickness across the board, along with improved fuel economy.
190 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
181lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 mpg (FWD ), 20/26 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
264 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
269 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg (FWD ), 19/24 mpg (AWD)
The front-drive 2013 Santa Fe Sport starts around $25,300, with the AWD version opening at just over $27,000. On the turbo side, the Sport 2.0T begins just beyond $28,500 and the 2.0T AWD commands close to $30,300. While the Popular Equipment Package will add $950 to the Sport model and stepping up to both the Leather & Premium and Technology Packages bumps the base price points by about $5,500 in all cases, the new Santa Fe Sport still holds a slight to quite significant – think 4-figure – bottom-line advantage compared to comparably equipped prime competitors. It also offers Hyundai's class-leading 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-year roadside assistance program. While KBB.com has not yet established residual values, there's strong reason to believe they'll be fully competitive with rivals like the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Edge, Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV4.