Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
By: Allyson Harwood

We Like: Attractive exterior, quality interior style and function, strong value proposition.

We Don't Like: Numb steering, poor handling, turbo's disappointing power.

For 2013, there are two Santa Fes: the short-wheelbase Sport and the long-wheelbase Santa Fe. The Santa Fe Sport rides on the same length of wheelbase as the 2012 Santa Fe, but looks totally different. There are two engines: a 190-hp, 2.4-liter four and a 264-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four.

The 2.0T has significantly more power than the 2.4, yet was only 0.2 second faster to 60. While the 2.0T is quick and throttle response is excellent from a stop, there were noticeable flat spots in the acceleration curve that made power delivery feel uneven. On twisty roads, when accelerating out of a turn, we had to wait--or mash the throttle--for the transmission to downshift. The base engine delivers power more smoothly than the turbo, and while it doesn't feel overwhelmingly fast, it's a decent engine.

The 2013 model is quite attractive, inside and out. The elegant cabin's controls are easy to identify and use, and as is often the case with Hyundai, there are plenty of features available on the Santa Fe Sport. If we could change one thing, it would be to improve NVH -- there were squeaks and rattles, and too much wind noise.

However, the Santa Fe's biggest weaknesses are steering and suspension. There were three different steering modes, yet none provided much steering feel. In addition, the suspension seemed easily confused when driving hard, and as Lieberman explained, "The secondary body motions are horrid. Basically, as you enter a turn, the vehicle leans over not once, but twice. By the time that second rebound is happening, you're more likely than not turning the wheel the other direction. So, you're trying to turn left and the Santa Fe is bouncing to the right." This won't be a problem for most drivers, but we wonder how the suspension will behave during an emergency maneuver. The ride is not as comfortable as that of others in its class, and you can feel more bumps. These are significant problems that for some judges strongly outweighed the Sport's value.

Floyd summed up our views: "It seems we've been talking for generations now about how Hyundai is still a generation or so away from delivering a vehicle that offers as much dynamically as it does with its value and interior packaging. We're still talking about it with the Santa Fe Sport, and that's a shame, because there's plenty to like."


2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD
BASE PRICE $27,025
PRICE AS TESTED $35,625
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/264-hp/269-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3936 lb (57/43%)
WHEELBASE 106.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 184.6 x 74.0 x 66.1 in
0-60 MPH 9.1 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.8 sec @ 82.7 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 122 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.80 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.7 sec @ 0.57 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON 20/27 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 169/125 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS 0.86 lb/mile