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: 9,434 km (7,835 km by Autos.ca)
Observed Fuel Consumption: 11.4 L/100 km
Costs: $1,138.07 (Gas)

What a way to finish off its time with us. The Hyundai Santa Fe XL passed its final test with flying colours. Our final month included some of the most severe weather the GTA has seen in many years, including freezing rain, extreme cold, snow storms, ice everywhere, and the XL just shook it off kept on rolling.

During its brief hiatus at Hyundai headquarters while we used the higher-trim Limited for our Mid-Size SUV Comparison Test, Hyundai outfitted the Santa Fe XL with a serious set of winter tires, Dunlop Winter Sports fitted over our 18-inch alloys. Between the excellent cold weather grip (on pavement, snow, slush and even pack ice) and all-wheel propulsion, the Santa Fe XL goes and stops without almost any indication of the sub-zero temps (as low as -20 Celsius) we were experiencing. And with reasonable ground clearance and the ability to lock the AWD system in 4×4 mode (for speeds up to 40 km/h), it can also crawl any snowplow banks that don’t exceed its modest ground clearance. Also good to know for sloppy weather – the doors wrap under the sills, so you won’t muck your pant legs up entering and exiting the vehicle.

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

Even with such capability, I’d still rate it a city ute, though reasonable even for northern Canadian cities. However, the occasion of the comparison test did allow us to test one issue reported by our readers: its behaviour over rough roads when fully loaded. We packed in six adults and drove over a rutted gravel road in a nearby park, and encountered some harsh impacts, the rear suspension bottoming out against the bump stops and jarring passengers, especially those in the back (no automotive journalists were harmed in the execution of this test). One can also reproduce it by driving fast over the same deep ruts, even without a full load of passengers or cargo. Therefore, helmets are advisable for third-row passengers when tackling trails.

With only my family of two children and one wife, plus an occasional in-law, we never encountered this shock on any paved roads, even with the snow mounds and craters created by our recent ice storms and freeze-thaw cycles, so this is more of a caution for the country and cottage set.

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

This last month we also had the chance to take it out for an extended highway drive out to my mom’s over the holidays, and the Santa Fe XL again demonstrated its superb highway manners. It is quiet, with little wind or tire noise (even on winter tires), and tracks straight, although it is susceptible to cross winds if they get strong enough.

That trip also helped keep the fuel consumption average down at a nice steady cruise, although the cold weather put a hurt on the XL’s thirst, with long warm-up periods and cabin, seat and steering wheel heaters going full blast. Our final fuel consumption for the four months was about 11.4 L/100 km, costing us $1,123.90 cents in regular grade fuel, which would work out to about $3,375 in yearly fuel costs. Our best tank was the 8.5 clocked by Lesley Wimbush on her round trip to Peterborough and weekly chores; the best I managed was a 10.8, with a mix of urban commuting, city driving and highway driving. The worst we showed was 14.5 during the intense cold weather we experienced in early January.

While your mileage may vary, estimated ratings are 13.1/9.8/11.8 L/100 km city/highway/combined as per EPA (18/24/20 US MPG) or 11.8/8.0 L/100 km city/highway per NRCan). Fuelly.com real-world reporting shows 11.6 L/100 km (20.3 MPG) for the 2013, so it is pretty realistic to expect consumption somewhere in the 11-12 range.

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