We’ve already made the point that there are two Hyundai Santa Fe models. Actually, there’s only one Santa Fe, and a new model called the Santa Fe Sport. The Santa Fe Sport, because it has the longer name, is the shorter of the two, a five-passenger crossover, while the plain Santa Fe is a six/seven passenger crossover.
More explanation? Hyundai pegs the Santa Fe Sport against the Toyota RAV4, Ford Edge, the Santa Fe Sport’s rival sibling Kia Sorento, the Chevrolet Equinox (and we’ll add, the GMC Terrain). Hyundai says the bigger Santa Fe competes with Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer.
The confusion comes in, however, from the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport directly replacing the five-passenger 2012 Hyundai Veracruz in the midsize crossover class. The latter’s name was abandoned because it didn’t make much of a hit. Now Hyundai going with the better known name for the Veracruz’s successor.
(Just for the record, Hyundai also has a subcompact crossover, the Tuscon, which incidentally is also sold in Europe where it’s pronounced TUCK-sun, instead of TOO-sawn, as we do in the States).
While the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is an exception to Hyundai’s new all-four cylinder rule—there’s only so much a turbocharged four can handle apparently—so the Santa Fe has a V-6 while the 2013 Santa Fe Sport has a choice between a two-liter direct-injection four and a turbocharged version of the same engine. The Santa Fe Sport is also available with front or all-wheel drive.
Our follow-up review vehicle was a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T. While the $24,450 non-turbo four will probably be the bigger seller, Hyundai knew our weakness when it provided the turbo that with all-wheel drive lists for $29,450. Hyundai also optioned up our review vehicle with enough options that the bottom line price on the window sticker came in just shy of $36 grand. Compact SUV’s have come a long way.
To get to that price, our test Santa Fe Sport had the Leather & Premium Equipment option. This $2,450 package bundles side mirror turn signals, a sliding and reclining second row seating, heated rear seats, a 4.3-in audio display and rear-view camera, power front passenger seat and of course leather. A Technology package includes the panoramic sunroof, navigation system with an 8-inch screen, a heated steering wheel and, a nifty touch, manual rear side window sunshades. No more Garfield shades suction cupped to the window to keep the sun out of baby’s eyes.
Standard on all 2013 Santa Fe Sport, however, is Hyundai’s “storm edge” design. It’s a continuation of a family design that, with its wedgy contours and hexagonal three-bar grille that clearly identifies the Santa Fe Sport as a Hyundai.
Interior design mimics the exterior in its extensive use of angles. Even the cylinders housing the speedometer and tachometer are baloney-sliced, and the center stack has angel-wings center vents flanking the center multi-function display screen.
Overall tenor of the interior is very upscale. All normal touch surfaces—including the dash—are soft touch, the armrests particularly so. The automatic temperature controls were noticeably steady and consistent, definitely set-it-and-forget-it.
An unusual control, made possible by the Santa Fe Sport’s electric power steering, varies the firmness of steering boost between low boost/higher effort/greater road feel and, well, just the opposite. The Santa Fe Sport also has an eco button that softens throttle response. By making it necessary to move your foot farther for the same amount of power as with lesser movement in regular mode, it’s supposed to save fuel. Perhaps, though one could do that by just going easier on the gas pedal. The eco button does not, however, limit max power. Push the pedal all the way down and it goes just as fast.