Previously an also-ran among crossover utility vehicles, Hyundai’s Santa Fe now “looks and feels nicer than everything else out there.” The handsome interior of the 2013 represents “an incredible leap forward” from the previous model’s, while road performance has also been greatly improved. When loaded up with options like all-wheel drive, a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, and a few creature comforts, this CUV becomes “much more interesting” than some of its better-selling rivals.
Customers might be puzzled by Hyundai’s new nomenclature. The “Sport” label doesn’t mean that this vehicle comes with special performance capabilities: It merely distinguishes the five-seat Santa Fe from a soon-to-arrive larger edition that will have a third row for passengers. But in a fair world, buyers will care less about naming quirks than about the “voodoo engineering” behind an unusually powerful CUV that also leads its class in fuel economy.
Car and Driver
Thanks to its stiffer frame and a major weight loss, the road manners of this Santa Fe feel “light-years” beyond those of the 2012. We still think the Mazda CX-5 performs better, but Hyundai has dramatically narrowed the gap. Can this five-passenger crossover pull bumper-close to the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4 in sales? “We wouldn’t bet against it.”