Car Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T


To say that the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD is a sharp CUV would be an understatement. This new offering from Hyundai is certainly a sweet success built for today’s family, with flexible seating and cargo, strong performance courtesy of dramatic weight savings (266 lbs. lighter than the 2012 model) and advanced safety technologies. The Santa Fe showcases the brand’s cutting-edge capabilities through its bold design, impressive fuel economy and a host of features to delight drivers and passengers with high expectations for functionality and comfort.


Hyundai’s all-new crossover architecture was clearly developed for families that seek size, flexibility and functionality. The Fluidic Sculpture exterior design – a dynamic and fluid design with bold surfaces and balanced lines – plays a huge role in setting the Santa Fe apart from the competition. Our Cabo bronze test vehicle couldn’t have looked better with flashy 19-inch hyper silver alloy wheels. The Fluidic Sculpture exterior of the Santa Fe crossover family invokes the impression of irrepressible motion through a new design concept called Storm Edge, which captures the strong and dynamic images created by nature during the formation of a storm. To create the illusion of constant motion, Hyundai designers use a three-bar hexagonal front grille, LED headlight accents, low stance, rising beltline, roof spoiler and wraparound taillights. These cues let people know immediately that the Santa Fe is a Hyundai.

Design elements also include standard chrome grille and door handle accents and body color mirrors. In addition to the 19-inch wheels, a twin-tip chrome exhaust is also standard on the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T. It also boasts other features like front fog lights, heated side mirrors, roof side rails, automatic headlight control, side mirror-mounted turn signal indicators and premium door sill plates.


Hyundai hit it out of the park with the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD interior! The sleek design of the Santa Fe, combined with Hyundai’s expertise in interior packaging, delivers a great presence on the road while improving functionality and convenience. The spacious cabin has more shoulder room than the previous generation. The Santa Fe includes a number of convenient standard stowage and storage features, including an overhead console sunglass holder, two front and two rear seat cupholders, door bottle holders, cooled glovebox, enlarged central storage console, front storage bin, front seat back pockets and an innovative cargo under-tray and floor board storage. The Santa Fe Sport also features sliding and reclining second row seats.

Dual-zone climate controls ensure a comfortable environment for all occupants during long journeys. The dual-zone climate controls also incorporate an automatic defogging system, which detects humidity levels using a sensor and removes it from the windshield. Another premium feature is a Clean Air Ionizer that automatically cleans the air when the heater or air conditioner is running.

All Santa Fe models offer an optional multifunction eight-inch touch-screen display with navigation. This third-generation display features a simpler user interface, enhanced voice recognition commands and improved navigation screens. The system is more intuitive to use for commonly used tasks. Simple pop-up messages now appear to help pair a phone. The voice recognition software understands street addresses and cities all in one sentence. The route screens display speed limits and detail the next three maneuvers. One or two-button pushes now complete most functions.

HD Radio technology is also integrated into all Santa Fe displays. An HD Radio icon on the display appears next to the channel frequency to notify the user this station is broadcasting in HD. All models are available with four audio systems. Standard is an AM/FM/Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system with six-speakers and iPod/USB/auxiliary input jacks and wireless audio streaming. The upgrade audio system in our test model boasted a 4.3-inch full color LCD touchscreen with HD Radio technology and rear view camera. The third system consists of the Gen 3.0 Navigation unit and rearview camera paired with either a Dimension 10-speaker premium audio system or the Infinity 550-watt, Logic 7 audio system with 12 speakers, including an eight-inch subwoofer.

A Sirius XM Satellite Radio interface is integrated into each head unit and features channel logos and SiriusXM Data services. A Bluetooth hands-free phone system with voice recognition, address book download and audio streaming is also standard. Blue Link turn-by-turn navigation is standard on all Santa Fe models. Blue Link combines safety, service and infotainment features to simplify owners’ lives and reduce distracted driving. Blue Link brings seamless connectivity directly into the car with technology like voice text messaging, POI web search download, turn-by-turn navigation and monthly vehicle reporting. Hyundai Blue Link telematics is standard on all Santa Fe models with up to a one-year complimentary trial period. Blue Link can be easily accessed from the buttons on the rearview mirror, the web and via a smart phone. Blue Link is offered in three packages: Assurance, Essentials and Guidance.

The panoramic sunroof was a standout feature, especially on sunny Midwest days. The saddle leather seating really raised the bar, as the interior 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD is prepared to take on luxury CUV that can cost much more than the $35,925 sticker price as tested.



Our 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T sported a high output 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with horsepower at 264, while also delivering excellent fuel economy with 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg highway. This is the first Hyundai crossover to have both GDI technology and a turbocharger, providing more horsepower than many of the V6 competitors, yet still delivering gas mileage similar to competitors’ four-cylinder models.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged GDI four-cylinder engine in the 2013 Santa Fe Sport 2.0T produces 269 lb-ft of torque with regular fuel. Hyundai’s 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged engine features a twin-scroll turbocharger that, when combined with the GDI system, results in instantaneous power delivery. Twin-scroll turbocharger designs have two exhaust gas inlets that are divided by split walls inside the turbine housing with both gas passages controlled by a waste-gate. A twin-scroll turbo recovers even more energy from the exhaust than a single-scroll turbocharger thanks to a divided manifold. The twin-scroll design separates the cylinders whose exhaust gas pulses interfere with each other, resulting in improved pressure distribution in the exhaust ports and a more efficient delivery of exhaust gas energy to the turbocharger’s turbine.

The engine is mated to Hyundai’s six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC manual control. This transmission offers smooth shifts and a wide ratio spread that suits the engine’s characteristics. An automatic transmission warmer is included to keep the transmission oil at its optimal temperature, which improves real-world fuel economy. Additionally, all models have an Active ECO System that modifies engine and transmission control to smooth out throttle response and increase real-world fuel economy.

Santa Fe customers will feel the benefits of the optional Active Cornering Control All-Wheel-Drive (ACC AWD) system that cooperatively controls engine torque and braking in conjunction with the Vehicle Stability Management System. This system can anticipate traction requirements and deliver additional stability through braking via continuous monitoring of driving conditions compared with other AWD systems, which can only react to conditions after they occur. All AWD Santa Fes access an intelligent control unit that continuously analyzes data from the vehicle controller, and through a multi-clutch plate distributes torque to any single wheel at a time. The coupling system is fully controllable via an electro-hydraulic actuation system. Braking force can also be sent to any single wheel at a time via the software. These processes are known as torque vectoring and torque braking. All this analysis is completely transparent to the driver.


There are so many reasons why we’re sold on the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T becoming a big player and surpassing other CUVs that are getting long in the tooth. You won’t find many rivals that can boast the sleek design, high quality and performance of the new Santa Fe, and that is noticeable right away after you drive this vehicle. The interior cabin space is a pleasant surprise, especially when others are shrinking space. The Santa Fe has the “it’ factor, and for a price that will surely have buyers feeling like they hit a home run!