By Bob Nagy
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
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.
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.
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 or its 3-row sibling, the Hyundai Santa Fe.
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.
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...
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.
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).
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.
By DP on Sunday, February 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,500overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Hyundai warranty if you have to use it. Roomy."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I have owned my Santa Fe for 9 months and it has been to the dealer 6 times already for warranty items. Most recently the front bumper was torn off the front of the car by getting caught on a trailer hitch. The bluetooth has never worked right. The computer does not calculate fuel and distance properly. The drivers side seat was loose and had to be reinstalled. It is about to go back for service visit number 7. Hyundai does not want to admit that they sold a bad unit. They have tried to fix the problems. I am in sales and use my vehicle for work. This car has not been reliable. It was the first year for the redesign and they need to get the kinks out."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Moe Money on Sunday, February 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Design, comfortable and quiet ride"
Cons: "Multimedia lacking in some areas"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Recent purchase of the SFS 2.0T FWD loaded up. So far, love the looks, features (in general), quiet/comfortable ride, and interior space. Shopped for other small SUVs and most of them had small cargo space in the rear with back seats up. Wanted something I could fit four sets of golf clubs and three passengers without going to a mid/full size SUV. The SFS does the trick. The SFS, in my mind, is really a mid-size vehicle. I'm not overwhelmed by the multimedia system, but probably because I've been spoiled by ownership of entry level luxury cars and their comparable systems. Last night as I pulled into the driveway, my neighbor's Lexus RX350 was sitting outside. My thought was: WOW, look at the outside profile of that car versus the SFS. They really look the same. I mean, the rear window behind the rear door are of the same proportion as the SFS and the overall size looked the same. Any copying of that design Hyundai? Truly not trying to compare the SFS to the RX350, but I got to tell you that the SFS will not back off to many in aesthetics and design in the mid-size SUV market. Can't comment of overall reliabilty since that will bear out in time. Decent warranty and extended warranty to overcome my apprehension in that area. Would highly recommend a look see for those in the market for a small or mid size SUV."
By TAS on Thursday, February 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Value, great interior layout, build quality"
Cons: "nothing of any significance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Completely satisfied with the 2.0 2013 Santa Fe Sport we purchased in October of 2012. Murano Red and all options. With the huge difference in amenities and technology between the base model and the loaded version, by all means try to stretch and get the option packages. Not one problem. Vehicle runs and looks great. Averaging about 27 mpg (urban and light suburban highways). TWEAKS: 1. I turn off the traction control as I find the vehicle drives better when accelerating quickly and the steering seems more sensitive to my touch.2.I use the Sport suspension option(there are three on this vehicle) for the best ride. My wife and I could not be more pleased with the quality build, the vehicle amenities (we are still discovering some neat features), the support via quality inquiry surveys from Hyundai and our dealership and the comments from our friends when they experience the ride and comfort."
By dallashyundastic on Saturday, February 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Perfect blend of price, power, comfort and style."
Cons: "Blind spot and base stereo"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought the 2013 Santa Fe Sport with leather seats in November of 2013 and as of February 1st I have about 6,000 miles on it. I love this vehicle! I did extensive comparison shopping with the GMC Terrain which I had owned and Toyota RAV4, CRV, Mazda CX5 and the Ford Edge and Ford Escape. I am a short, older guy with more than a few extra pounds and I was looking for something that had the utility of an SUV but was first and foremost comfortable to sit in for me. I was wowed by the SFS the first time I saw it and sat in it, but I did my due diligence before buying it. I'm in sales and spend a lot of time in my vehicle and put a lot of miles on it. For me, the SFS was by far the most comfortable and ergonomic of the vehicles I test drove. I love the layout and everything is where it should be and easy to use. I especially like the layout of the cubbies and power points for my GPS and phone. Small details, but important when you're in the vehicle as much as I am. The interior also looks very upscale. I got the standard stereo which is good but not great. I would have had to get a much more expensive upgrade to get the better stereo because it was bundled with a bunch of other stuff. Other than that, this a great car to spend time in. The 2.0 turbo is a hoot to drive and has excellent power available whenever I need it. The power is effortless for entering highways on on-ramps, passing, driving through mountainous terrain, etc. It's always on tap and you wouldn't know it's a turbo four. I owned a GMC 4 cylinder Terrain and it was a slug compared to this! So were all the 4 cylinder competitors I test drove. The RAV4 was so slow it was scary trying to merge onto the interstate! I live in Dallas and most of my driving is mixed highway and city driving. I have consistently averaged about 20 mpg over the past 3 months. I keep it in the ECO mode most of the time and I don't notice much of a difference in power delivery in my around town driving with it on or off. I actually seem to get the same power with a smoother delivery. With ECO off my SFS tends to be a little jumpy when accelerating. The eco mode seems to get me maybe one mpg better gas mileage too. A lot has been written about Hyundai's power steering modes as gimmicky. You can really feel the difference but after I have it in one mode or another for several days I forget which mode I'm in. For the past several weeks I've had it in the Sport mode for my city driving and I like it just fine, but then I also liked the normal mode too. Comfort is a little on the too easy side, but it's all what you get used to. Nice to have the options! I recently drove from Dallas to Knoxville and back. I really appreciated how comfortable the seats were and what a quiet and comfortable cruiser it was. I also was happy to have that turbo power on tap for climbing the mountains and passing the big rigs. I could go from 65 to 85 on a steep uphill grade in the blink of an eye. I averaged about 25 mpg going a steady 80 mph most of the time and on one long stretch of interstate at 70 mph I got 27 mpg. Not the best in the segment, but I gladly accept the trade-off for the power! I love the exterior styling as well. I knew I had made the right decision when I was waiting in a client's parking lot and he pulled up next to me in his Mercedes sedan. He got out and walked around my SFS and kept complimenting me on the way it looked! I would stack it up against any CUV out there! Overall, I find this vehicle to be a fantastic blend of all the features I was looking for. It's very stylish, incredibly comfortable and well laid out, has tons of interior room for seating and stuff, has lots of power and gets decent gas mileage. Something else that is important to me is that it has a tight turning radius so it's very easy to maneuver around in and park. You do get a pretty big blind spot due to the cool exterior styling around the C pillar area. I highly recommend the blind spot monitoring for that. It was not available on my 2013 model package and I wish I could have gotten it. I also wanted to get the upgraded stereo but you could only get it bundled with an expensive package so I had to "settle" for the standard stereo, which is okay but could be way better. I will have to invest in an aftermarket upgrade to get the sound I want. So my advice is if you're considering a smaller SUV, buy the Santa Fe Sport Turbo and you'll thank me for it!"
8 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By javelinahog on Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very stylish, strong engine, good fuel economy."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought in May 2013. Great fuel economy and performance for a 4 cylinder, 264hp engine. The Sport 2.0T is not intended for a family of 5 or 6 but is really great for my wife and I. Great for road trips and all. We just fold down the rear seats and put out luggage carrier on top and get going. vylish and has great powered leather seats (passenger and driver). I am 6' 4" tall and I have room to spare. After 8000 miles, we have no complaints."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Steve-0 on Sunday, January 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,250overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Styling, Tech package and sun roof are sweet"
Cons: "Internal Plastics could be slightly better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I had friends who bought Hyundai when they first came to the US and they were pretty lame. I heard people trash them for years and then the Veloster came out and my wife had to have it. I drove it a few times and it literally made me hate my Subaru. I saw the Santa Fe Sport and felt the same as she did where I just really liked the styling. I'd suggest a test drive before buying as one of the two I test drove just felt a bit looser in the steering under all the steering options. I didn't like the colors that were available on the lot (they just came out), but did find what I was looking for about a month later. Test drove it before buying to make sure it had no issues and was hooked. I've had the vehicle a year and 3 months and have had zero issues. I've driven tons of people in it and every one of them can't even believe it is a Hyundai. A few co-workers have even bought Hyundai's now based on that experience alone. Mine is loaded with all the options and I love it."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful