Last fall, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe seven-passenger crossover was named the “CUV of Texas” by the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA). That organization holds an annual “Truck Rodeo,” wherein, by and large, pickup trucks are put through their paces. They buy a lot of pickup trucks in Texas. I don’t know how many crossovers are purchased there. I’m guessing a fraction of the number of cabs-with-boxes.
But from my recent time in the Santa Fe, some 1,100 miles northeast of Spring Branch, Texas, I came to the conclusion that what might be a better award for the vehicle would be the “CUV of Target.” That is, I noticed in the pre-Christmas-crowded parking lot of a local Target an extraordinary number of CUVs, more than minivans (yes, that stigma still applies) and sedans. That is the sort of demographic that the Santa Fe is built for. And a happy demographic that would be, especially if said CUV is in the Limited trim grade, as the toasty heated seats and even heated steering wheel are an absolute winter delight.
The Santa Fe Limited is the bigger version of the Santa Fe Sport. That is, it has a third row of seats. Said third row would be useful for munchkins or possibly people that you really wish weren’t traveling with you.
Chances are probably good that a better use for that space would be for cargo, as you can readily put the rear-most seatback down and get some addition flat surface. Otherwise, the available space is approximately as deep as a case of Dasani water is long. It is sort of a shame to have a vehicle so big and the volume so small. That is, the cargo volume behind the third row is 13.5 cu. ft. The trunk in the Elantra sedan gives you 14.8 cu. ft. Put those seatbacks down and you’ve got 40.9 cu. ft. of space to work with.
Overall, this is a vehicle that’s tricked out with all of the amenities that one might wish to have in a crossover. Power everything. Pushbutton start. Four cup holders. Four bottle holders. Four 12-volt outlets. A glovebox with a lock (sometimes, there are things that you just don’t want the kids to get their mitts on, and there’s nothing like a key for things like that).
The vehicle has a reasonable power-to-weight ratio, with a 290-hp V6 moving the front-drive version’s mass of anywhere from 3,904 to 4,145 lb. (with the range predicated on the selected stuff you choose, like the optional panoramic sunroof which is, technically speaking, gianormous).
While this is not a real design statement like, say, the Elantra is vis-à-vis its competitive set, it is certainly sufficiently shaped such that it isn’t something that you’re going to feel completely anonymous in when you’re rolling through that parking lot at Target.
Engine: 3.3-liter, GDI, DOHC, 24-valve V6
Horsepower: 290 @ 6,400 rpm
Torque: 252 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 110.2 in.
Length: 193.1 in.
Width: 74.2 in.
Height: 65.5 in.
Passenger volume: 146.6 cu. ft.
Cargo volume behind front seats: 80 cu. ft.
EPA: 18/25/21 city/highway/combined mpg