2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Odometer at pick-up: 1,599 km
Odometer current: 6,281 km (4682 km by Autos.ca)
Observed Fuel Consumption: 10.8 L/100 km
Costs: $636.99 (Gas)

The Hyundai Santa Fe XL continues to impress after more than two months serving the Yarkony household and Autos.ca staffers.

This chapter of the story featured one week of intensive highway driving in the midst of AJAC’s Canadian Car of the Year TestFest, in which we shuttled back and forth between Niagara and Brampton a couple times, which drove home the XL’s supreme confidence on the highway. The interior is quiet, the ride compliant and the V6 is a gem, running smoothly, quietly and efficiently.

More recently, we took a trip into downtown Toronto to check out the new Ripley’s Aquarium, and it navigated the tight carpark with ease thanks to decent forward visibility. Backing up is still a bit tricky with the styling sacrifices of the D-pillar, narrowing windowline and lack of back-up camera, but proximity sensors to keep us from backing right into anything. There was plenty of room for stroller, snacks and gear on top of my bulky hockey bag with the third row down. Only rarely have we used that third row since our fifth passenger usually prefers the middle second-row seat because it is plenty wide back there. Note that the Limited trim is reduced to six-passenger seating.

However, the daily commutes from and back to the suburbs are beginning to take their toll and the XL has recorded around 11 L/100 km on the trip computer for the last two fill-ups, while the overall calculation lands at 10.8 L/100 km, which is still tracking ahead of the EPA’s 11.7 L/100 km (20 mpg) combined estimate if not quite as hopeful as Natural Resources Canada’s 10.0 combined rating. Slowly but surely I am frittering away the good work Lesley Wimbush did in her week driving to Peterborough and back.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL. Click image to enlarge

I’ve recently had the pleasure of driving a handful of truly memorable and capable cars (both at home and abroad), and never have I felt let down getting behind the wheel of the XL, and it comes down to two major things: the engine and the ride.

First, the engine. On paper, the V6 is listed as 3,342 cc, using an aluminum block and head, dual overhead cam 24-valve affair with dual continuously variable valve timing and direct injection. When you list it all like that it sounds a bit fancy, but truth is, there is nothing groundbreaking here, even if it is using most of the modern tools at the leading edge of mainstream engine technology. Horsepower is listed as 292 (at 6,400 rpm) and torque at 252 lb-ft (at 5,200 rpm). Those numbers are good, but even the Santa Fe Sport’s 2.0L turbo cranks out 264 hp (at 6,000 rpm) and 269 lb-ft (and that at a low 1,750 to 3,000 rpm), demonstrating the huge benefit of turbocharging.

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2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL. Click image to enlarge

And despite weighing 170 kilos more than the five-seat sport, the 1,853-kg XL goes like stink. It’s not funny-car fast, but it takes off from the line plenty quick and also piles on speed even at highway pace when the transmission kicks down and digs up all that torque. It’s also a mostly smooth V6 with a bit of a rasp that I quite like. Power perceptions aside, this is my favourite engine in the Santa Fe lineup, and I’m doing about as well in fuel consumption with this six as any non-hybrid, non-diesel seven-seaters I’ve ever sampled (notable examples include the new Nissan Pathfinder, Ford Flex, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country, Nissan Quest). Am I driving more efficiently? Perhaps, although it doesn’t seem that way to me – if anything, I feel like I’ve been driving this vehicle more aggressively than your typical minivan or maxi-utility vehicle, namely because of the excellent ride and handling balance.

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