Hyundai is taking a two-pronged approached with its redesigned Santa Fe SUV, offering it in two- and three-row configurations. The Veracruz is history for 2013; hence the Santa Fe will be offered as two different models - the regular version and a long-wheelbase model. To see how it measures up, we recently borrowed a Santa Fe to live with for a week and captured our first impressions on video.
The iteration we sampled is known as the Santa Fe Sport, and it targets the Chevrolet Equinox and Ford Edge. The larger variation stretches 8.5-inches longer, and it is positioned against the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander.
The Sport is powered by a 190-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or a turbocharged 264-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The longer seven-passenger version features the same 3.3-liter V6 found in the redesigned Azera sedan, producing 294 horsepower in the SUV. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard.
Hyundai claims the new model is 250-300 lbs. lighter than the outgoing Santa Fe, contributing to the promised fuel economy gains. In looking to the official EPA numbers, the improvement is modest when comparing 4WD variations. The 2012 four-cylinder and V6 Santa Fe were each EPA-rated at 22 mpg overall, matching the 2013 Santa Fe Sport with the turbo engine. The naturally aspirated four-cylinder has an incremental advantage at 23 mpg overall. We'll reserve judgment until we conduct our fuel economy tests.
One interesting feature on the 2013 model: The steering can be adjusted with Normal, Comfort, and Sport modes. Our engineers, however, were not impressed with any of the settings. The steering wheel can also be heated, a welcomed amenity in cold-weather states.
With all the variations, the new Santa Fe line covers a lot of territory. The Santa Fe Sport is now on sale, and we'll soon purchase one for our test fleet. The long-wheelbase Santa Fe is scheduled to arrive in January 2013.