Hyundai has been making major advances into the North American automotive marketplace. When it was first introduced back in 2001, the Santa Fe was a terrific new-comer. It was a midsize SUV that was just the right thing for families. But, as years pass by, changes must take place for a vehicle to stay competitive.
For 2013, Hyundai is making some major redesigns and packing a new turbocharged engine under the hood, making some dynamic changes in styling, and fixing the prices to be highly competitive. Not only that, but there are now two different Santa Fe choices – the Sport, which is designed for 5 people and the 'regular' Santa Fe, which is designed for 7 people. The Sport will be more competitive in the Compact CUV/SUV category. The regular Santa Fe will stay in the Midsize CUV/SUV category.
Just recently introduced is the new Sport model and that was the weekly test model. The exterior color was called Marlin Blue. The interior was a dark gray. The Santa Fe Sport is a new name as well as a fresher appearance and redesign. The look is more aggressive and aerodynamic. The body lines are up-swept. There is a rear spoiler that adds a sporty look.
The base engine is a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder that provides 190 horsepower. This is more powerful than last year's base engine. Also available is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that provides 264 horsepower. Fortunately, this turbocharged 2.0 was the engine in the test model and that allowed me to feel 'the pedal-to-the-metal' a little more of the time.
The interior has been redesigned and is quite attractive, comfortable, and well-appointed. The Hyundai design engineers have used a sufficient amount of high-quality leather, soft-touch materials, wood trim, and aluminum to make the Santa Fe's interior look and feel very upscale. It is obvious that a lot of attention was put in the details, such as the door trim, knobs, switches, and stitching. It is definitely much more upscale than the previous models.
The test model Sport had an MSRP of $29,450. A 'Leather & Premium Equipment' package added $2450. A 'Technology' package added $2900. Although the standard model has a long, long list of equipment, these two packages add so much extra, such as a panoramic sunroof, rear-view camera, heated seats, heated steering wheel, rear window sunshades, a navigation system, and much more. Bottom sticker price with delivery charges was $35,925. EPA mileage ratings were 19 city, 24 highway, and 21 mpg average. For the week, I had an overall average of 26.8 mpg, but that was by exercising restraint in my driving.
Hyundai is definitely on a roll and the improvements in this new Santa Fe will continue to keep them moving forward. The style, pricing, and powertrain are all impressive. This third-generation, mid-size SUV has leapfrogged to the front of the line and sales will probably reflect that move.