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Car Review: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD FWD

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When Hyundai designed the all-new six and seven-passenger Sante Fe, their recipe of bold design, high-output powertrains with Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) and a host of other features to please drivers and passengers stayed intact along with high expectations for functionality, versatility and comfort. After spending a week behind the wheel of the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD FWD, we can now see why sales keep going up.

EXTERIOR

The new Hyundais have accomplished fantastic reviews for styling, and the new six-passenger 2013 Hyundai Santa FE LTD FWD continues the good-looking traits of prior Santa Fes. Hyundai designers crafted Santa Fe Sport and three-row Santa Fe together, with the signature differentiating element being the sideview daylight opening (side window shape); the larger Santa Fe features a shape that highlights the increased passenger and cargo room behind the third-row seat. Santa Fe also has its own bodyside character lines from the B-pillar back, grille design, chrome-tipped dual exhaust and a flush-mounted tow hitch design. Our test model was shining in becketts black paint, and with the19-inch Euroflange alloy wheels, this was one sharp looking machine. Also adding to the overall exterior package were front fog lights, heated exterior mirrors with turn signal indicators, roof side rails and windshield wiper deicer. I will say the new front lighting system looks as sleek as any vehicle on the road.

INTERIOR

Impressive from the moment you enter the cabin! The Santa Fe trim features the same flowing interior look designed for passenger functionality and comfort. From the available heated rear seats and eight-way power driver seat with four-way lumbar support, to a standard 40:20:40 folding rear seat back, Santa Fe boasts flexibility and a pleasant cabin for all. Also new for 2013 – and standard on all Santa Fe equipped with cloth seats – is a ‘YES Essentials’ seat fabric treatment that provides soil-resistant, anti-odor and anti-static properties for added longevity and livability. Special care and attention went into other interior details, such as an optional panoramic sunroof, which allows more natural light into the cabin and rear side window sunshades. Available on Santa Fe models is a push-button starter with proximity key, Electroluminescent Gauge Cluster with color LCD trip computer and a heated steering wheel.

Our test model sported heated black leather seating surfaces with second row captain’s chairs. The three-row Santa Fe increases second-row legroom by 1.9 inches and cargo capacity 5.5 cubic feet and features standard rear-passenger HVAC controls and vents to increase family comfort, while also offering a standard 50:50 split folding third-row bench seat with 31.5 inches of legroom. This seat back is perfect for seating five passengers comfortably or accommodating four passengers plus long items like skis, golf clubs, snowboards and surfboards. Fold down two seats to seat three people and hold larger packages, or fold all rear seats to maximize cargo space. Our three-row Santa Fe also featured a power liftgate for added convenience.

The Santa Fe also 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, enlarged central storage console, front storage bin, front seat- back pockets and generous under-floor cargo storage. 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 CleanAir Ionizer that produces negatively charged ions to purify the air when the heater or air conditioner is running.

All of the favorable and desired equipment was included in our test model, like heated first and second row leather seats, dual zone automatic climate control with clean air ionizer, 115 volt power outlet, driver selectable steering modes (DSSM), auto-dimming interior mirror with homelink and compass, 4.3-inch color touchscreen audio with rearview camera, AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD/MP3 with iPod, USB, Bluetooth hands free phone system and Hyundai Blue Link telematics system. 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. The Santa Fe has an incredible cabin that will sell plenty of customers just on that alone.

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PERFORMANCE

The Santa Fe LTD as tested sported the Lambda II 3.3-liter GDI that has a high-pressure direct injection system (over 2,200 psi), which dramatically increases power and torque, while reducing fuel consumption and emissions. This system eliminates the need for a large displacement V6 engine and increases the compression ratio for greater thermal efficiency and output. Santa Fe’s V6 tow rating of up to 5,000 pounds is perfect for towing small boats or weekend toys. The three-row Santa Fe’s powertrain was tuned in Ann Arbor, Michigan to satisfy American driving expectations. The Lambda V6 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 to help increase real-world fuel economy by 5-7 percent. All 2013 Santa Fe trims feature Hyundai’s Hillstart Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Brake Control (DBC) to maximize control on steep hills. HAC minimizes rolling backwards on steep ascents, while DBC helps the driver maintain vehicle control and speed on steep downhill descents. By selecting the DBC switch, the Hydro-Electronic Control unit manages the wheel speed sensors, steering angle sensor and acceleration sensor to maintain control and speed on steep declines without having to use the brake.

Behind the wheel, drivers benefit from Hyundai’s all-new Driver Selectable Steering Mode, with three operating modes: Comfort, Normal and Sport. This innovative system allows drivers to adapt the Santa Fe’s steering characteristics to varying driving preferences and road conditions. Comfort mode is ideal for city and parking environments, offering the greatest ease of steering with a 10 percent decrease in steering effort from Normal mode. Normal mode is ideal for a mix of driving conditions. Meanwhile, Sport Mode is optimized for higher-speed freeways or winding roads and decreases power steering assist by 10 percent from Normal mode. The Driver Selectable Steering Mode not only adjusts power assistance levels in each mode, but also adjusts on-center build-up feel and steering build-up curves throughout the steering range for a very natural and progressive feel. Steering dampening characteristics, active return and friction levels have also been optimized in Santa Fe. Going into Sport mode really changes the whole driving experience, but to maintain the 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg highway driving, you might want to enjoy some drive time in Comfort or Normal.

As sporty as the new 2013 Santa Fe LTD looks, it’s also built for families where safety is always top priority. All Santa Fe models have a standard Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) system, which optimally manages Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and the Motor-Driven electric Power Steering (MDPS). VSM works to control two effects. The first is when a driver accelerates or brakes on a split-mu surface (slippery on one side, dry pavement on the other) and the vehicle wants to pull in one direction. VSM detects this condition and sends a signal to the MDPS to apply steering assist. VSM counters the pull and automatically provides eight Newton meters of counter-steering. VSM reacts the same way during sudden lane changes or fast cornering.

OVERVIEW

Hyundai has done it again with an amazingly beautiful vehicle with a cost that is more than just competitive. The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe LTD FWD has a plethora of options and comes with a sticker price as tested of $36,980. We’re talking style, luxury and quality for a price that will make some rivals have nightmares over what the folks at Hyundai have pulled off here. When you add in the third row seating, the bonus value just keeps going up.

  

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