The 2013 Santa Fe Sport is one half of the new, third-generation Hyundai Santa Fe lineup, which will add a long-wheelbase model in about four months. The decision makers at Hyundai plotted a strategy that would put the crossover on as many shopping lists as possible. With three engines and two different wheelbase models to choose from, Hyundai will offer a five-passenger Sport model as well as a 7-passenger LWB (long wheel base) Santa Fe.
Hyundai engineers have empowered the new Santa Fe Sport with a four-cylinder engine lineup with a choice of either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Powered by the same engines found in the Sonata – with the ability to tow up to 3,500 pounds – the Santa Fe Sport models will have two options. Starting at, the base 2.4-liter direct-injection engine makes 190 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for the FWD is reasonable, giving consumers 22-mpg city, 33-mpg on the highway for a combined 26-mpg.
The AWD model achieves a 21 city/28 highway-mpg rating for 23-mpg combined.
Consumers looking for more power and performance there’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection model making 264-hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Front-drive fuel economy is rated at 21/31-mpg for a combined 25-mpg, while AWD models get 20 city/27 highway-mpg or 22-mpg combined!
At its face, the 2013 Santa Fe Sport greets you with Hyundai’s hexagonal two-tone chrome grill. LED accent headlights offer an added level of style, making the Santa Fe instantly recognizable on the road, along with its liberal use of brightwork. On the side of the vehicle, we find an exaggerated character line that runs the length of the greenhouse and continues on to the rear, where it’s met by the Santa Fe’s swooping decklid.
Hyundai has labeled its design concept “Fluidic Precision,” which appears to be the evolution of its previous “Fluidic Sculpture” design language seen on its previous vehicles like the Veloster Turbo, Elantra GT, and Elantra Coupe. Whatever it’s called, we like it. Hyundai has managed to design a dynamic and standout CUV without obnoxiously dipping into the reservoir of eccentricity that many crossover vehicles proudly feature with their superficial stylings.
The 2013 Santa Fe’s interior sets the bar pretty high. The dashboard and doors are outfitted with high-quality leather and soft-touch materials, accented with small amounts of aluminum and wood trim. The whole cockpit looks and feels truly upscale; everything from the leather used on the steering wheel to the plastics used on the door trim to even small details like the window switches and climate control buttons are top-notch.
Virtually everything within the cabin shines of quality. The materials used inside all feel first-class, and the design is accessible whether you’re piloting or sitting in the rear. Speaking of which, both seating up front and in the back felt top notch, with a high degree of comfort and cushioning that will make even the longest of roadtrips a warm and soothing experience. Standard features include power windows, locks, and mirrors; air conditioning; cruise control; tilt/telescoping steering; steering-wheel audio and phone controls; and 17-inch wheels. The standard audio system is an AM/FM/CD player with satellite radio, USB and auxiliary ports, Bluetooth and audio streaming, and six speakers.
Additional option packages will also be available including a Popular Equipment package, which bundles automatic headlights, heated exterior mirrors, heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel to name a few, as well as a Leather and Premium package, which adds further amenities such as a back-up camera, 4.3-inch touchscreen, HD radio, and keyless entry, among others.
For a hardcore techno driver, Hyundai offers a Technology Package that includes panoramic sunroof with a sliding fabric sunshade, navigation system with upgraded 8-inch touchscreen, heated steering wheel, and manual rear window shades. The tech package also adds the heart-pounding 12-speaker Infinity audio system.
A 90-day free trial of Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system comes standard. Here, drivers can receive turn-by-turn navigation and Bluetooth streaming for various app through their smartphone. Blue Link actually incorporates some rather nifty features that can be configured through its corresponding iPhone app. Drivers can set up geo-fencing, which will alert you via text if your car ventures beyond its designated driving zone, speed limits that inhibit the car from traveling beyond certain speeds, as well enable remote engine ignition.
The first of 2013 Santa Fe Sport models are hitting dealerships as you read this, with pricing starting at a cool $24,450, not including $825 for destination. Stepping up to the Sport 2.0T will set you back $27,700, and if you opt for a fully optioned model, you’ll be shelling down $35,625 all-in.
The Santa Fe Sport delivers a fine compromise of good ride and steady response-neither chop nor wallow. The brake pedal feels firm enough and linear, and Hyundai claims the largest brakes and shortest stopping distances in the class.
Styling is an evolution of the swoopy “fluidic sculpture” theme introduced on Hyundai’s Sonata sedan. We’d call it more mature, much less busy and generally more appealing. The Santa Fe Sport is handsome and well proportioned but not terribly gimmicky. It looks more expensive than it is.
To put it simply: It’s a great looking car that dances between luxury and leisure, stylish and sporty.
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