Last weekend, Hyundai invited me and a handful of bloggers to Park City, Utah, to experience the new 2013 Santa Fe. The Santa Fe is a CUV (crossover utility vehicle) with capacity to seat 5 to 7 passengers. The 2013 five-passenger Santa Fe Sport began arriving at Hyundai dealerships in August, with the long wheelbase Santa Fe (with 6 or 7 passenger options) set to arrive in January 2013.
We arrived at the Montage Deer Valley Resort in Park City last Friday with enough time to enjoy some time on the lovely historic main Street followed by a dinner at the hotel. Thank goodness I called it an early night on Friday, because our schedule on Saturday was packed.
The #NewSantaFe conquers the mountain
After a peaceful breakfast, we began learning about the new Santa Fe. Both the 5-passenger Santa Fe Sport (the vehicles that we test drove) and the longer wheel base 6 or 7-passenger Santa Fe are targeted towards families. I know that CUVs appeal to many moms as a sportier, more enjoyable option to the minivan. The new Santa Fe certainly has a sleek and stylish design. I would love to be seen driving it around town.
The biggest question I am usually asked when I review vehicles is how I enjoyed driving them. As one who is not extremely interested in specs, how a car handles and how comfortable a car feels are top priorities for me. I can attest – driving the Hyundai Santa Fe was a pleasure. It not only handled regular roads with ease, but it conquered the winding, high-elevation mountain roads as well as several miles of off-the-beaten-track dirt roads with style. Through the course of the day, my driving partner, Louise from Momstart.com, and I drove our Santa Fe around 100 miles…and we took turns being the driver and the passenger/navigator.
While Louise was driving, I checked out some of the Santa Fe’s great features, a favorite of which was the panoramic sunroof. Yes, even the passengers in the back seat can enjoy the sunroof. The seats were comfortable and I know my back seat passengers at home would appreciate that their seats can both recline and slide forward or back. I also appreciate both the legroom AND the cargo space, which included “hidden” storage in the back.
Probably the most unique aspect of our test drive was our location. Hyundai took quite a risk bringing us all up to the mountains of Utah. We averaged 7000-8000 feet above sea level, and although I know how that altitude makes ME feel, I never considered that the altitude would make a difference in the way a car handled. Did you know that engines typically don’t perform as well in high altitudes where there is less oxygen to mix with the engine? I didn’t before last weekend, and I honestly didn’t notice any places on our drive where the Santa Fe was lagging because of the altitude.
Our drive took us through many winding, uphill and downhill roads, and many of those roads had to be shared with cyclists on a mountain bike race. I was impressed with how the Santa Fe handled the turns, accelerating through the uphill sections, and braking for downhill and the bikers on our route. One feature that I thought was really cool was the Driver Selectable Steering Mode (DSSM) which allows the driver to select Normal, Sport or Comfort steering at any point of the driving experience. Sport mode reduces the power assistance by 10%, giving you a feeling of more control and handle on the road. While I spent most of my driving time in Normal Mode (does that make me boring?), Louise definitely preferred the Sport Mode.
The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, and we took advantage of as many scenic viewpoints as we could. But thanks to the new Santa Fe’s easy handling and intuitive controls, we were both able to enjoy the ride instead of concentrating on learning a new car. The only things I had trouble with? Figuring out how to reset the odometer and how to open and close the sunroof and shade right on the first try. Yes, we DID figure out both dilemmas.
Here are just a few of the features on the New Santa Fe:
- Substantial weight reduction (-266 lbs.)
- High tensile steel ratio of 37.7% (vs. 7.8% for outgoing model)
- All four-cylinder engine lineup for the Santa Fe Sport
- Theta II 2.4-liter Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engine
- EPA estimated highway fuel economy at 31 mpg (FWD A/T)
- In-house six-speed automatic transmission
- Hyundai’s first application of Active Cornering Control AWD for outstanding CUV driving dynamics
- Segment first Driver Selectable Steering Mode (DSSM)
- Seven standard airbags – includes driver’s knee airbag
- Panoramic sunroof
- Heated steering wheel
- Heated rear seats and manual rear side window sunshades
- Power driver seat with four-way lumbar control and front passenger seats
- Sliding and reclining second row seating with 40:20:40 folding seat back
- Standard Blue Link – safety, service and infotainment telematics system
- 4.3-inch touchscreen audio display with rearview camera
- Third generation navigation and audio multimedia systems with an available eight-inch touchscreen display
- 12-speaker Infinity Logic 7® surround sound audio system (550-watts)
Note: not all features may be standard.
There is still so much more about our adventures in Park City and the surrounding areas, but that’s for another day. The conclusion? The Santa Fe is a car that I would be proud to have parked in front of my house. I loved the way it drove, and I thought it was a perfect alternative to the stereotypical “mom-van.”
Disclosure: Hyundai paid for my travel, accommodations and activities during this event. All opinions and photos in this post are my own. Thank you to all of the employees at Hyundai who made last weekend such a wonderful experience.
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