If the third-generation 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe XL was a person, it would be Barry White. Smooooth.
Being only the second Hyundai that I have driven this year, I was again surprised at how much the Korean manufacturer continues to differentiate itself from the masses by giving consumers more for their money. Not just by what you see and touch, but by the driving experience as well.
Basically a bigger and badder version of the Santa Fe Sport with third-row seating, it doesn’t look as awkward or bulbous as some seven seaters on the market. Actually, many people who glance at the XL are surprised it isn’t a regular-sized crossover. On our Limited model, complementing its balanced proportions are auto-levelling HID headlights, a chrome-slatted grill as well as stylish angled fog lights. There is also some black and silver under cladding giving it a rugged off-road ready look. The interior of the vehicle reminded me of my living room, only nicer. The middle two leather-clad captain’s chairs resemble La-Z Boys and are just as comfortable. I suggest reclining them on a long road trip and enjoying the music flowing from the 10-speaker Infinity sound system with the massive panoramic moonroof open. The rear-most seats fold forward easily resulting in a cavernous carrying capacity when the need arises to haul stuff.
Photo courtesy of Hyundai Canada
Drivers entering the Santa Fe are greeted with a pleasant start up chime — that could quickly get annoying — that is telling of the technology that awaits them. The now requisite back up camera is among the best I have used that also utilizes audio warnings to alert the driver of rearward obstacles. The sensors even managed to pick up the parking curbs on the ground when I was backing into a parking space.
At the heart of the redesigned XL is a 3.3-litre V6 delivering 290 horsepower and capable of towing up to 2,268 kilograms. The six-speed automatic shifts effortlessly and power is instantly on tap should you need to merge onto the highway or pass a car. There is an ECO button that you can activate to try and squeeze some more fuel economy from the normal 11.7 L/100 km city and 8.0 highway. All models except base gets on-demand all wheel drive.
While the vehicle is very comfortable and easy to drive, one aspect might be a little too easy. The steering wheel almost turns itself and there is very little input felt during turns. I don’t mind it too much but I have heard comments that it is hard to get used to.
Notable Features (as tested)
Price: MSRP $42,899
Engine: 290 hp@6400 rpm/252 lb-ft@5200 rpm
Drivetrain: Front engine, all wheel drive Fuel economy: 11.7 L/100 km (city), 8.0 (highway)
Curb weight: 1,968 kg
Safety and security: driver and passenger, side, curtain and knee airbags, traction and stability control, alarm and anti-theft system