2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport: Review Notes

Styling update gives it a dynamic look inside and out; turbocharged engine is refined and powerful
Misses: Second row could be bigger

While the old Hyundai Santa Fe was a nice, comfortable vehicle, the competition had clearly passed it by the last couple of years. A 2013 redesign changed all that and injected the midsize crossover with some much-needed style and pep.

I reviewed the five-passenger Santa Fe Sport and awarded it big points for its zippy turbocharged engine, high-quality interior and roomy backseat. In fact, it was tough to find anything not to like.

It's not all about me, though. Sigh. The rest of the editors have had the chance to drive the Santa Fe Sport too; were they as taken with it as I was?

It turns out the Santa Fe Sport was a staff favorite. The crossover lost its V-6 for 2013, but its new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder won me over during my test drive in Utah's mountains; our Chicago editors also thought it was strong. "I was really impressed with the performance of the turbo four-cylinder engine, especially considering the size of this crossover. It accelerates strongly — you don’t miss a V-6 at all," said editor Mike Hanley.

Editor Joe Bruzek noted a "pleasant lack of torque steer from the powerful turbocharged engine." So did Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen who had "test-driven the earlier generation and was underwhelmed."

The cabin was another nearly unanimous bright spot. "Everything about it screams that it's perfectly executed like the sporty gauges, easy-to-use multimedia system and comfortable seats," Managing Editor Dave Thomas said. Hanley also thought the optional touch-screen multimedia system was well-executed. "The center touch-screen has great graphics, but more importantly I like that it's within easy reach of the driver because of the upright dash design," he said.

We're divided on the crossover's second row. A sliding and reclining seat means passengers can get comfortable, but some editors thought it wasn't as roomy as expected, especially since the seat slides 5.2 inches for more legroom. Olsen said it was a tight fit for five adults "with the person in the middle of the second row feeling very cramped."

There's plenty of room in the back for kids, though. A mom of two, editor Jennifer Newman "was particularly surprised by the second row; it has seats that slide forward and back — and the legroom seems endless." Installing two child-safety seats wasn't a problem for Thomas either, though he noted that "the rear seats could have more room."

Overall, we thought the Santa Fe Sport was both fun to drive and comfortable. It looks like Hyundai has another hit with its crossover, thanks to "big improvements in interior quality and competitiveness," Olsen said.

The automaker has been on a roll lately and it can add the Santa Fe Sport to its list of successes. "The revitalization of Hyundai's heritage names like Sonata, Accent and Elantra have all been successful, so the Santa Fe's success shouldn't be surprising." Bruzek said.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Review
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Priced at $25,275
More Hyundai News on Cars.com



What about the visibility out the back? It looks like that could be an issue along with a claustrophobic back seat. A kid sitting in the back seat is probably looking at the door panel.

I like the front styling. I think the back looks way too heavy.

Anonymous User

Are these good for tall people, as I know the first two generations weren't.


I am 6'2" and test drove the Santa Fe Sport (5 seat, not 7 seater) and I can sit very comfortably in the driver seat, then get out and sit in the back seat right behind the drivers seat without any discomfort. My knees can swing side to side without even touching the drivers seat. Nor did my head ever touch the roof interior even on a bounce. (the rear seats recline rather nicely as well)

James S

I concur, Justin. Whoever evaluated this vehicle and said the 2nd row is cramped has an odd sense of space and proportion. My partner and I just bought a Sport this afternoon, and that 2nd row is more than spacious. He's 6'1 and was able to fit comfortably in the back with plenty of room all around.


I own a 2002, and it's been the best suv maybe the best veh. i have ever owned, i have drove the new sport and i must say i'm all in, now can u see out the rear i'm 6'2 and i could but i don't need to for it has plenty of mirrors for that and a backup camera, but hey thats me and how i drive, i'm buying 2 of the sports in about 30 days, another for my wife, and 1 for a aunt, she knows how much we loved the first one as we still drive it today, still preforms like new after 10.5 yrs, taking my wife to drive it this saturday and we have been searching this one since it hit a few months back, i looked at others but i can't find myself looking much, i have zero problems with the one we own now but 1 set of tires, it good on tires, 1 battery, 1 set of brakes and reg oil changes, nothing else at all, how many other veh have i owned that i can say this about, right zero, i was laughed at when i left the deer woods 10,5 yrs ago to buy this for my wife by my entire family and today 6 out of the 8 that laughed own one also, that tells a story, i do not know alot , but i do know i do my research and this time i spent reading it paid off, hope and pray it will again, i feel great about this new sport, i drove the salesmans nuts, i took my own floor jack so i could get it up and check out the bottom, and i did just to watch him, then we laughed about it together, im a joker and he found this out, he said to me, sir we dont have people do this nor ask, i told him u dont understand buddy, today u work for me, i had him for 15 mins befor i gave in and told him i just wanted to see his face, we have built a trust between us, but sometimes i catch him asking r u serious or is this day 1 again, we laugh and have another cup, anyway, the 2013 sport by my research is a No Brainer and trust this i have put hrs into the research, i'm retired Army and i have the time to research and hands on, i seen it has 8 out of 10, i'll give it 1 more, no 10 just because it's no trk, yep thats what i drive, but i give it a 10 over any SUV on the market today Period


I think , child seat can not be installed in the middle of the second row

I own a 2013 Sante Fe and I'm keeping a running journal (of sorts) of my experience with the CUV. Check it out: http://hyundaisantefereview.com/

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