Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Odometer at pick-up: 1,599 km
Odometer current: 7,120 km (5521 km by
Observed Fuel Consumption: 11.1 L/100 km
Costs: $768.12 (Gas)

My week with our Frosted Mocha 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe XL Premium long-term tester ($34,999) was preceded by a few days in the top-trim, $43,399 XL Limited 6-Passenger – a vehicle we used for an upcoming CUV comparo.

So did I go from filet to Spam? From the Four Seasons to the Motel 6?

Not entirely. Yes, the saddle leather for fabric, the panoramic sunroof and proximity key with push-button start that I gave up were missed, and going from the eight-inch touchscreen with navigation to the small monochrome unit hurt. But gosh, there’s still a lot of kit here in the Premium.

During this frigid week, the heated steering wheel was our best friend, as were those heated second row seats for the back-seat passengers. And I can’t say enough about the all-wheel drive and winter tires that kept us mobile during a wicked blizzard. The third row was not used, but past experience suggests it is passable for kids, although access is difficult as the second-row seats don’t slide forward very much.

What I didn’t miss was the harsher ride of the Limited, which rolls on 19-inch wheels versus the 18-inchers on the Premium.

The Premium also has rear park assist, power liftgate, windshield wiper de-icer, downhill brake control, hill start assist, rear side manual sunshades, dual zone climate control and 12-way driver’s seat with four-way lumbar.

So what is a Santa Fe XL? Simply, take a Santa Fe Sport, stretch the wheelbase 100 mm, add 215 mm overall, put a vestigial third row in the back, a 290-hp, 252 lb-ft direct-injection 3.3L Lambda II V6 in the front, and there you have it.

It’s here to do battle with the Ford Explorer, Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot and Nissan Pathfinder.

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe XL Premium2014 Hyundai Santa Fe XL Premium
2014 Hyundai Santa Fe XL Premium. Click image to enlarge

That’s not to say Hyundai hasn’t offered a capacious crossover before. The three-row Veracruz, launched in 2007, was deep-sixed to make way for the Santa Fe XL.

The Vera-what?

Exactly. That pricey offering didn’t resonate with Canadian buyers, and with few takers Hyundai never put much into marketing. So you’d be forgiven for not knowing what the heck it is.

I expect Hyundai will do well with the Santa Fe XL. A week in the saddle proved it to be a very desirable rig. The seats are comfortable, it handles well and it’s highly functional. Add to that a high quality cabin and the aforementioned generous content, and you have a winning combo.

Plus it moves out quite smartly. This is the lightest vehicle in the segment, and with its 290-hp V6, it brags the best power-to-weight ratio. Passing power is plentiful and the six-speed auto shifts smoothly.

My wife drove it a lot that week, and because of the quiet cabin and strong engine, she was usually going faster than she thought. Luckily the local constabulary did not get a chance to confirm that.

And while speaking of my better half, she can be one heck of a harsh critic when it comes to press vehicles. Tooling around in this Santa Fe XL Premium made her quite happy.

I wasn’t too thrilled with the fuel economy, showing 15.1 L/100 km after a few days, but admittedly this was possibly the scenario – bitter cold, snow and all in-town driving. Reset for a highway jaunt, it dropped down to 10.7 L/100 km.

With some renos going on here, I used the Hyundai for a couple of Home Depot runs.

Tug a couple of straps and the two third-row seats flip forward to open up a capacious cargo area. The second row does the same, creating a nearly flat 2,265-litre load space – about on par with the Pathfinder and Explorer, less than the CX-9, Pilot and Highlander.

Related Articles:
Long-Term Test Update 2: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL
Long-Term Test Update 1: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL
Long-Term Test Arrival: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL
Road Trip: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL to Aspen
Long-Term Test Wrap-up: 2013 Toyota RAV4 XLE FWD
Comparison Test: 2013 Nissan Pathfinder vs 2013 Mazda CX-9

Manufacturer’s Website:
Hyundai Canada

Photo Gallery:
2014 Hyundai Santa Fe XL Premium

Its last day here saw us picking up our son at the University of Guelph and then dropping into a cut-your-own Christmas tree place. Three adults, a bunch of student detritus and a balsam fir – no problem for this stylish crossover.

Pricing: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL Premium AWD
Base Price: $29,999
Base Price (Premium AWD): $34,999
Options: None
A/C Tax: $100
Destination: $1,760
Price as tested: $36,859

Chevrolet Traverse
Dodge Journey/Durango
Ford Explorer
GMC Acadia
Honda Pilot
Kia Sorento
Mazda CX-9
Nissan Pathfinder
Toyota Highlander

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