April 11, 2013

Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

I guess there are good marketing reasons for a car to be named after any city, or this city in particular. What I would like to know is why a car should be designated "Sport" if you can only get it with automatic transmission: what's the sport in that?

Hyundai's "Team" commercial for the Santa Fe shows a mom grimly determined to help her son beat the neighbourhood baseball bullies by rounding up his own superhero buddies. I guess if you have vengeance on your mind you can't be bothered with the "sport" of manual transmission, or other expressions of sportsmanship.

For that matter, you can't assemble the team in a "Sport" edition Santa Fe, because you wouldn't have enough room for them: the Santa Fe comes with 7 seats only for the "GLS/Limited" edition, the one with the 3.3L V6 engine. Its 21 mpg average fuel efficiency is a bit 20th century.

Surprisingly, even the Sport 2.0T edition, with its turbocharged gasoline engine, doesn't do all that much better (23 mpg avg.), perhaps because of the smaller compression ratio for the engine. The regular "Sport" option, with its 2.4L engine, does best of the US lineup, but the efficiency is still a disappointing 24 mpg. With emissions of more than 200 g CO2 /km (Auto transmission), this engine only gets the European "C" designation (where "A" is reserved for the best gas sippers).

If you're looking for better-than-30 mpg in a seven-seater, Hyundai does offer a few for the Santa Fe.


Engines available for Santa Fe, selected locations

Korea (FWD) EU (FWD Manual) US (FWD Auto)
    2.0L Sport 2.0T
264HP, 269 lb-ft
20 / 27 / 23mpg
e-VGT R2.0 Diesel
181HP, 296 lb-ft
"34 mpg" (auto)
e-VGT R2.2 Diesel
197HP, 311 lb-ft
"35 mpg" manual
2.2L CRDi Diesel
194HP, 311 lb-ft
32 mpg (real life)
  2.4L GDI
190HP, 181 lb-ft
"27 mpg"
2.4L GDI Sport
190HP, 181 lb-ft
21 / 29 / 24 mpg
    3.3L V6 GLS/Limited
290 HP, 252 lb-ft
18 / 25 / 21 mpg

Hyundai doesn't offer any gasoline engines for the Santa Fe offered in Great Britain: there the only option is the 2.2L diesel engine (32 mpg average est. in real life). On the other hand, you have a choice of getting it in the 5-seat or the 7-seat version, manual or automatic, front- or all-wheel drive.

In continental Europe, they offer the 2.4L GDI engine as well.

In the Korean home market, there is a second, smaller diesel engine, a 2.0L. Bafflingly, this one comes only with automatic transmission, so its fuel efficiency is nearly the same as that of a manual-transmissioni 2.2L diesel.

Both versions come with an enticing cooled glove compartment that doubles as a mini-refrigerator. Maybe there is a bottle opener mounted inside that glove compartment. Oh right: no beer allowed.

In the 7-seat Santa Fe, there really isn't that much space behind the third row: just enough for a cello. The third row seats can be folded down to make a flat cargo space. The second row, when folded down, end up horizontal but at a slightly higher level, so you couldn't, for instance, sleep behind the front seats very comfortably.

The roof line is recognisably Hyundai, even if the side windows are a bit too reminiscent of Lexus SUVs. There's fun to be had with that much roof real estate: like putting in a window.

The optional sun roof on the Korean Santa Fe takes up more than two thirds of the roof area. With a sky view like that, it's worth rigging mats or blankets way in the back to make a completely flat surface, on which you can lie and admire the night time sky. That's what I call good sport.


Hyundai Santa Fe, in US and UK

Type Sport 2.2L CRDi
Year 2013 2013
Emissions rating EURO5 "C"
MSRP $ 24.450 £ 25,850 (5-St)
£ 27,050 (7-St)
CelloMom Rating
Fuel Economy:
City/Hwy quoted 21 / 29 mpg 32 / 47 mpg_US
Avg. quoted 24 mpg 40 mpg
Avg. actual 32 mpg
Engine 2.0L 16-vlv
2.0L 16-vlv
Power 190 HP 194 HP
Torque 181 lb-ft 311 lb-ft
Fuel Regular Unleaded "Clean" Diesel
Length, mm(in) 184.6 in 4690 mm
Width, mm(in) 74.0 in 1880 mm
Height, mm(in) 66.1 in 1675 mm
Weight, kg(lbs) 3459 lbs 1863 (5S) / 1896 (7S)
Trunk volume, liters(cuft) N/A / 35.4 / 71.5 cuft
(5-seat only)
585 / 1680L 5-seat
516 / 1615L 7-seat
Turning radius, m(ft) 35.8 ft c-c  
Top speed, kph(mph) 118 mph



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