Car Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited

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SEATTLE, January 8, 2014 — The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe offers one of the most complete packages available in an attractive SUV for its relative price point. Our test model is priced at just below $39,000. However, its combination of power, amenities, handling and ride make it an SUV you should highly consider.

The engine is a 3.3-liter double overhead cam, 24-valve V6, rated at 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque.  If this engine seems familiar to Hyundai fans, it’s because it is the same engine which powers the 2013 Azera sedan but has a few more tricks up its sleeve to make it more suitable to the vehicles rated 5000-point towing capacity. Hyundai upgraded the engine with new piston rings, a variable output oil pimp, chromium nitrate electro-coating for the cams, rocker arms and tappets to help in heat resistance and finally a three-stage intake manifold.

The Limited is all wheel drive which works out great for inclement weather and adds an extra sense of security for winter-time driving.

Overall fuel economy is rated at 18mpg around town and 24mpg on the freeway. While not stellar, it is competitive to what else is out there. My time driving the vehicle saw mixed driving to come in around 15mpg.

There is only one option for a transmission and that is the six-speed automatic which has solid, smooth shift points and is a great fit for the engine, overall – no complaints here. If you like a sporty feel to shifting, there is a manual mode as well. Acceleration is snappy but not ultra-fast. Car and Driver reports a time of 7.1-seconds.

Hyundai did a very nice job of appointing the interior with a modern, well laid-out design which uses a compelling mix of materials and colors that simply work together quite well. Its center console harnesses the entertainment system with a good-sized 8-inch touchscreen which powers Infinity speakers and also has the navigation system built-in. Its telephony Bluetooth works great. It is also easy to setup, has good sound quality and overall does a nice job of integrating with your smart phone.

Interior fabrics and surfaces are well appointed, with the leather on the seats of good quality but still not quite Nappa-grade; however, for most people and for vehicles in its price range, it’s very good.

The triple row setup has ample leg room for the second row passengers while the third row, as is the case with most 7 or 8 seat capacity vehicles, is a bit more on the cramped side of things, mainly reserved for children or short drivers with larger people.  Rear storage is 13.3 cubic feet with the second and third rows up, fold them down and you do expand that to 80 cubic feet. While that is a nice amount of space, it is a bit less than some of the competition.

Other creature comforts include dual climate control for both driver and passenger, heated side mirrors, automatic headlamps, fog lamps, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, rear window shades and a panoramic sunroof.

The Santa Fe represents a very well-balanced Crossover SUV that rides and handles rather admirably. Its good combination of a ride that’s both soft enough to dampen out rough spots in the road yet firm enough to keep the vehicle from ever feeling too “tipsy” or “top heavy” around the corners. A very nifty feature that Hyundai includes is its variable steering system which allows the driver to switch between a “normal”, “sport” and “comfort” steering modes.

Hyundai has presented an excellent choice in the crowded market of mid-sized SUVs with the Santa Fe. In many areas, it beats out the competition in terms of overall power, handling, comfort and technology, however, if your main concern is cargo room, than you may want to look at another vehicle. Take a drive in a Sante Fe Limited and you’ll see why it’s an easy SUV to fall in love with as it does offer-up a great combination of styling, handling, power and enough amenities to make it hard to pass up. 

MSRP: $34,850
Price as tested: $38,730


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Duane Pemberton

Duane Pemberton is a food and wine writer who is also the owner of WineFoot.com. Pemberton is also a well read automobile reviewer and critic, all of which incorporates into his travel, wine and food reviews.

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