2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, the long hauler: Motoramic Drives


2013 Hyundai Sante Fe

Santa Fe, N.M., was officially founded thirteen years before the Mayflower Pilgrims arrived in New England. The Spanish conquistador Don Pedro de Peralta christened the town in the early seventeenth history as “La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís (Translation: “The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi.”)

Hyundai wasn’t the first to borrow the name for a mode of transportation that has nothing in common with the town: The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, founded in 1859, never actually reached Santa Fe. And the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe isn’t the best choice for conquering the deep canyons around the Rio Grande that kept the railroads away.

But the nameplate has been a winner for Hyundai, so much so that the Santa Fe is now offered as both a short-wheel base and a long-wheel based package, which effectively replaces the Veracruz. The rationale for the rebranding campaign is not to confuse Hyundai conquests, but simply to attract more customers to the popular Santa Fe badge, according to the automaker’s marketers. You can now super size your Santa Fe to accommodate six and seven passengers.

I drove the 2013 Santa Fe where it belongs — in a decidedly urban environment, where the biggest crevice in the landscape is a formidable pothole, traveling from Manhattan to Mt. Kisco one recent fine New York City spring day. From the outside, the Santa Fe is not a bubble mobile; sharp curves taper back toward angular rear. In other words, you don’t have to look like your average commuter put-putting along with 1.5 kids, even if you happen to be one.

But Santa Fe retains its family values. That meant no gunning the engine on the Limited model to race the Acura driver who tried to pass me from the right lane. This direct-injected V-6, made for the long-wheel base model, makes 290 hp and 252 lb.-ft. of torque, and is tough enough to go steady and sure, but not crazy.

Across its other variations, the thrill of the Santa Fe isn’t in its salacious driving legs; even the 2.0 liter turbo four-cylinder option offered on the Sport has lackadaisical response when shepherded by the six-speed automatic transmission. The impetus for the Hyundai buyer to bump up to the turbo engine option on the Sport model seems misguided; stash that extra $3,250 and stick with the 2.4 four-cylinder engine that makes 190 hp and 181 lb.-ft. of torque, and moves with a sense of confidence on the freeway.

The CUV acronym should actually stand for “Child Utility Vehicle,” and in this segment the Santa Fe shimmers like an oasis in the desert. Legroom is ample at 41.3 inches in the front, extending to 31.5 inches in the third row on the long wheelbase model. The storage space is well planned, granting 146 cubic feet, and also includes storage space beneath the cargo floor for odds and ends like baseball mitts. In the smaller Sport, a nifty sliding second-row seat accommodates clunky cargo and long-legged passengers.

The emphasis on backseat comfort for the entire family includes options for reclining second row seats, heated second row seats, individual reading lights, a manual rear side window shade and stain-resistant cloth seats. The Limited offers a fine example of how Hyundai stocks its interior fridge full of high-end gadgetry with options for a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, leather seats, touch-screen navigation and a backup camera.

The base model of the Santa Fe Sport starts at $26,200 all the way up to the top-of-the line Limited Technology package that prices out at $37,750, indicative of Santa Fe’s vast territory. These days the real Santa Fe is better known for Georgia O’Keefe and chili peppers, and the Santa Fe trains are the relegated to model train yards. That's fine; the Hyundai Santa Fe seems more than ready to haul any load it can find.

View Comments

Recommended for You

  • How a mom stole a car in under 60 seconds

    “I didn't steal your car but I think my mom may have. It's a long story. I'll explain, but your car is safe and sound," read the flier posted in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a strange tale that began when Cheyrl Thorpe was asked by her daughter Nekisia Davis to dog sit her Pomeranian at her apartment,…

  • All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground

    Much of Subaru’s modern day success in America can be attributed to one car: the Outback. Born in 1994 as a response to the growing popularity of SUVs, the Outback established a winning formula of combining a high-riding suspension, butch body cladding and big round fog lights to its comfortable,…

  • One-Step Retinol Treatments For Women Over 50

    The simple way to boost the anti-aging results of this powerful ingredient for younger looking skin in just one step without breaking the bank. 

    AdChoices LifeCellSkinSponsored
  • Custom faux-tique electric tram aims to replace New York's horses over the neigh-sayers

    For the record, it's the year 2014. I mention that in case someone reading this story about a push to replace horses with motorized carriages thinks they've stumbled onto some archival piece by accident. It's been more than 100 years since the first vehicles began to trundle around Manhattan, but…

  • April 17: Ford Mustangs sold like hotcakes on this date in 1964

    "Get ready to meet the unexpected," the voice in the ad teased. But even the most optimistic Ford dealers could not have anticipated moving more than 22,000 Mustang coupes and convertibles on the car's first day in showrooms: April 17, 1964. Thanks to much manufactured hype, including appearances…

  • Mazda marks 25 years of Miata, the best-selling roadster of all time

    Taking a simple concept and turning it into a car enthusiasts' dream that lasts for 25 years – a phenomenon that remains as strong today as it did a quarter of a century ago – is unfathomable. And yet that is exactly what Tom Matano, Bob Hall and their team did back in 1989 with the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

  • Diesel Drag Truck Destroys Track In High-Speed Crash: Video

    If you've ever doubted the might of a highly tuned diesel pickup, let this video put that to rest, even as it plants the seeds of a nightmare in your mind. Rolling coal and accelerating like a supercar, this diesel Dodge slams into a barrier and does a barrel roll that will stay with you.DON'T…

  • Fast & Furious RC Race, Chase Is Amazing: Video

    Fast & Furious has long been a guilty pleasure for car enthusiasts, made bittersweet by Paul Walker's untimely death last year. But the franchise will live on, perhaps not least in the hearts of its fans--like the fans who made this brilliant remote control race and chase video inspired by the…

  • 5 most significant cars from the New York Auto Show

    The massive 2014 New York International Auto Show has hundreds of cars on display and dozens of all-new models and concept cars vying for attention. While much focus this week has gone to the 50t...
  • Anti Aging Creams of 2014

    The ultimate skincare breakthrough formulated to help women achieve younger looking skin without spending money on surgery or injections.

    AdChoices LifeCellSkinSponsored
  • Richard Rawlings Discovered Pontiac’s “Holy Grail”

    If you’re a fan of Discovery Channel’s hit TV show “Fast N’ Loud”, you’ll want to tune in over the next two weeks. An upcoming two-part episode, which airs on April 21 and 28, showcases what Richard Rawlings believes to be the “Holy Grail of muscle cars” – the first two Pontiac Firebirds ever…

  • 2015 Lexus NX Preview

    Lexus is entering the compact luxury crossover segment with the debut of the all-new 2015 NX. Slotting in below the current RX model, the NX will go up against the Acura RDX, BMW X1, Infiniti QX50, Volvo XC60, and others.

    J.D. Power and Associates
  • Outpouring of Love Produces the 2016 Audi A3 TDI Sportback

    If you believe what Audi says, the automaker is returning a turbo-diesel 5-door hatchback version of the new A3 to the U.S. lineup following "an outpouring of enthusiasts' support" for the model. As a result, the new 2016 Audi A3 TDI Sportback joins an expanding lineup of A3 models.

    J.D. Power and Associates
  • 2015 Infiniti Q70 Adds Long-Wheelbase Model, Updated Styling, New Safety Systems

    At the 2014 New York International Auto Show, Infiniti unwrapped a refreshed 2015 Q70, the company's flagship luxury sport sedan, which will be offered as the Q70, Q70 Hybrid, Q70S, and new Q70L.

    J.D. Power and Associates
  • 2015 Dodge Challenger Looks the Same, But Isn't

    Take a quick look at the new 2015 Dodge Challenger and you might wonder what's different from the 2014 model. However, a closer look reveals quite a few minor changes.

    J.D. Power and Associates
  • The Good, the Bad and the Weird from the 2014 NY Auto Show

    Press days for the 2014 New York International Auto Show are in the books, and this year was…strange at best. The whole place felt like a morgue, despite some significant cars in attendance. Here is our sorta-kinda wrap-up of the show, with the good, the bad, and the questionable. Good: McLaren…

  • Better Think Twice About Paying Off Your Mortgage

    Refinance to a 15 year fixed at 3.12/3.29% APR and pay off your mortgage in half the time. This simple program won't last long. Calculate payment.

    AdChoices The Easy Loan SiteSponsored
  • 2015 Kia Sedona tries to escape the minivan stigma

    Kia took the wraps off the Sedona 7- and 8-seat passenger vehicle at the New York auto show, but it avoided calling it a minivan. Instead, the automaker insisted on referring to it as an MPV or m...
  • Porsche 911 Lemon Owner Promised Refund/Replacement [w/video] [UPDATE]

    We told you yesterday how a Mr. Nick Murray was in the vice grip of Porsche North America surrounding a lemon of a 911. Or as the internet cleverly nicknamed it — the ‘Nine-A-Lemon.’ After months of issues, a few (now viral) videos, and some friendly fans of Nick, he’s finally getting the…

  • Audi A3 Named 2014 World Car of the Year

    This year, Chevrolet made a clean sweep of the North American Car and Truck of the Year, with the Corvette and Silverado, respectively. But those two awards are for mostly American sensibilities, and the rest of the world has little need for really either car. So with that in mind, it might make a…

  • The Best Display in NYC Was a Group of Old Miatas

    The best collection of cars at the 2014 New York International Auto Show was not Audi’s booth of hot cars. Nor was it “supercar alley,” with its Lamborghinis and Koenigseggs. Nope, it was a group of some of the most important Mazda Miatas in the history of the model. The Miata is about to be […]

  • Spring Break 1984: The Last Time Regular Kids Drove Cool Cars

    Drive by a high school parking lot today and it’s full of SUVs and Camrys. Back in the 1980s, though, high school and college parking lots were jam-packed full of cool cars, driven by kids who weren’t satisfied with driving their mom’s Satellite sedan. See, in the 1980s, kids had these things…

  • The Honda HR-V: More Practicality In A Smaller Package

    Crossovers and compact SUV’s don’t exactly command the same excitement as exotic European supercars, but this upcoming Honda should be one crossover worth celebrating. Revealed at the New York International Auto Show – in photos at least – is the upcoming 2015 Honda HR-V. The HR-V originally…

  • 74-Yr-Old Outsmarts Doctors. Reduces Her Wrinkles.

    The ultimate skin tightening regimen that is helping every day women achieve younger looking skin without breaking the bank.

    AdChoices LifeCellSkinSponsored