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2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

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Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews
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This week I step out of a vehicle I loved into one of the top-selling SUVs on the market, and a vehicle that has already won a bunch of awards despite just recently going on sale. That vehicle is, of course, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe. My tester is the “Sport” model, which is equipped with the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder direct injected gasoline engine.

Also standard on the 2.0T SE Santa Fe Sport is all-wheel drive, something most SUV/crossover shoppers are looking for. The all-wheel-drive system in the Santa Fe also features a manual lock override that forces the system to stay in a 50/50 torque split; more on that later in the week.

Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews
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Drive is provided by a standard six-speed automatic transmission that offers a manual mode for added control. For most consumers, the real meat is in standard features that coddle the driver and passengers, and the Santa Fe Sport has those in spades.

Standard equipment includes black leather seating, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel (which works wonderfully, by the way), dual-zone climate control, a rear-view camera, panoramic sunroof, Bluetooth, and more.

On the outside, 19-inch wheels, a front windshield wiper de-icer, twin-tip chrome exhausts and side mirror–mounted turn signal indicators finish off the Santa Fe’s aggressive looks nicely.

MSRP as tested (including destination): $37,059

For more information on Hyundai and the Santa Fe visit Hyundai Canada

For even more on this car FOLLOW James on Twitter

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews
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I’ve been asked to comment about the leather steering wheel in the Santa Fe Sport, and I understand why, as in the past, Hyundai’s leather steering wheels seemed very un-leather-like, to be honest. The Santa Fe’s seems of high quality and it does feel nice in the hands, and, although still a little on the smooth side, it does not feel plasticky like some I’ve encountered before… so, it’s good.

With that out of the way, what about the rest of the interior? The rear cargo area is pretty darned large. Obviously, this platform is built to accommodate an extended seven-passenger version, so there is a large cargo area behind the rear seats. Not standard — and this is a pet peeve of mine — is a tonneau cover. You can get one thrown in, perhaps, if you are lucky, but it is a $285 accessory.

Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews
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The rear seats fold 40/20/40, allowing for maximum cargo and seating versatility, and the rear seats also slide fore and aft and the seatbacks adjust for rake, for more comfort. Leg room is good, but the rear seats are pretty firm, but let’s move out of the back and into the front seats, where I spend all of my time.

The driver’s seat is comfortable and was easy to adjust to my preference. The tilt and telescoping steering aids in driver comfort, but I’d like a little more extension on the wheel. Large buttons all around make finding features and setting functions a breeze. Right down beside the shifter are nice large heated seat buttons which I have enjoyed daily, and the heated steering wheel control is just off to the left of the wheel. The Santa Fe seems to know when I would like the heated wheel as well… it seems to turn on automatically when I leave for work in the morning.

The HVAC controls are set-it-and-forget-it, as the system has dual-zone automatic climate control. The radio dials are on the small size, and the small touch screen is a little difficult to reach. Huge props to Hyundai for adding a button to turn off the screen, although it adds to my ergomomic issues, as it is very far to reach.

The small screen does double duty as a backup camera, and it is necessary, but more on that tomorrow during my driving impressions.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews
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What everyone wants to know, is how the new Sante Fe performs on the road, and how well-suited is that 2.0L turbocharged engine to this larger Santa Fe application (versus the Genesis Coupe and Sonata platforms).

Well, first things first: the new Santa Fe looks great from the outside, and when you get in it looks great as well. Looking outside from the inside, though, is not so great. That’s a long-winded way to say visibility is just adequate in my books; the backup camera truly is a must-have, as the rear window is very high. But more importantly, the large side mirrors must be adjusted properly, because looking over your shoulder is a pointless affair, as the high belt line makes visibility out the sides basically nil.

Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews

Looking forward, the Santa Fe is okay and hopefully that is the direction you will be travelling in the most. The 2.0L engine does have some turbo lag and the six speed transmission is very quick to select the next gear. In ECO mode, the Santa Fe feels sluggish and reluctant to keep a set speed, as it requires a lot of throttle input. With the ECO mode off, this seems to be less noticeable, but I suspect if one drives in a lot of bumper-to-bumper traffic fuel economy may suffer if ECO mode is turned off.

The all-wheel drive system works great. We have had some snow and ice to deal with and the stock tires have performed flawlessly, even on my unplowed and icy street.

When I haven’t been mashing the throttle to try to get the wheels to spin, I have been cruising to work on the highway and backroads, and have noticed that this Santa Fe is a very stiff beast indeed, both in a good and bad way. The vehicle itself feels very solid, with no creaks or rattles, and the feel transmitted to the driver is that of a very solid piece of machinery. This is all great, but it also translates into a very rough ride that hits you hard in the backside over railroad tracks and harsh roads — that is the not-so-great.

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Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews
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Fuel consumption wasn’t stellar despite the small 2.0-litre engine, the heavy nature of the vehicle and I’m sure the abnormally cold weather for the week were two factors that didn’t help the cause. I averaged 11.1 L/100 km for the week, not horrible but not impressive either and I noticed out on the highway I couldn’t do much better than 10.5–11.

The 2013 Santa Fe Sport proves that it is a worthy offering in the mid-size SUV category — and soon to be nearly-full-size category with the XL seven-seater version. But for me the rough ride and laggy powerband were deterrents from making it on my best of list.

*Rating out of 5:

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Acceleration Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews
Handling Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews
Comfort Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews
Interior Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews
Audio System Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews
Gas Mileage Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews
Overall Day by Day Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport car test drives hyundai daily car reviews

*Rating based on vehicle’s classification
MSRP as tested (including destination): $37,059

For more information on Hyundai and the Santa Fe visit Hyundai Canada

For even more on this car FOLLOW James on Twitter




About James Bergeron

James Bergeron is an Ottawa-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).