“Here, bring this with you, just in case.”
My dad handed me his trusty old parka as I was lacing up my boots in his entrance way. This behemoth of a winter coat is older than me, has a furry hood with a wire closure to keep it snug around your face, and was designed for manly men with beards and axes who need to be outside doing manly beard things at 52 degrees below.
The parka was from dad’s pre-kids career as a geologist working in the far north. Now, it sits in a closet, mostly. But that night, back in 2012, it was forty below, and after supper at dads, I had a four hour drive in the dark, in one Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T.
On a night like this, in the case of an accident or breakdown alongside a largely-empty highway 400 between Sudbury and Southern Ontario, a parka like this one could have saved my life.
Thankfully, the parka’s services weren’t required.
That evening, after hitting every imaginable combination of weather, temperature and precipitation, I was prompted to write this story, focusing solely on the experience of driving the then-new Santa Fe through one of the most challenging concoctions of winter weather I’d ever experienced. And I’m a fella who has seen no shortage of challenging winter condition concoctions.
The gist? The headlights could have been better, but the winter tires, slick and very fast-acting AWD system and a well-tuned stability control system helped add some much-needed confidence, as the roads transitioned on my southbound drive from bare and frigid, to icy, to hard-packed, to nearly a foot of powder, then slush, untouched by highway maintenance crews for the entire drive.
That was three years back. Today, for this story, I’m visiting the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T again, for a second look.
The unit is the same. Black, not cinnamon, in colour, but an almost identically-spec’d Santa Fe Sport 2.0T. After no less than 10 highway hours (no snow this time), and a week at the wheel, a few elements continue to stand out, while a few others show their age.
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Rear seats are grown-up ready, and easily switch from reclined to erect to folded flat for maximum space and comfort. Rear seat passengers get first-class treatment thanks to the panoramic glass roof overhead, and even privacy shades like you’ll find in a Bentley. The heated rear seats were a hit with rear-seat passengers on my watch, too.
All passengers appreciated the design of the lower door panels, too. These extend down and over the rocker panel area, meaning the caked-on layer of salt, sand and ice builds up on the door, not the surface you step in over. Open the door in winter, and you’re always greeted by a clean and shiny surface, rather than slushing up your trouser cuffs like a sucker. Finally, headroom is particularly generous 0 even with the panoramic roof.