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Mudfest 2013: Tom's Hardware Helps Test 23 SUVs

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai’s second entry into Mudfest was the less-sporty Santa Fe, which seats up to seven depending on the configuration. The exterior styling of the Santa Fe is identical to the shorter Sport version, except for a differently-shaped rear that makes room for a third row of seats. Infotainment technology includes the same eight-inch touchscreen-based navigation system though, so we won't rehash it again.

Aside from its additional seating, the Santa Fe swaps the Sport’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine for a more conventional 3.3-liter V6 derived from the Hyundai Lambda architecture (the same one that birthed the 3.8-liter motor in 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 3.8 Track: Telematics And Infotainment). The greater displacement gives the Santa Fe more power to move the vehicle's additional heft. A six-speed transmission mates with the V6 and drives all four wheels using the same Magna Dynamax AWD system as the Sport. The 4-high lock mode is available on the Santa Fe as well.

The Santa Fe's AWD system performs competently on pavement and dirt. We engaged 4-high lock mode on the dirt course and experienced no understeer at all. A weight difference is certainly noticeable after driving the Sport, but Hyundai's vanilla Santa Fe still rides comfortably.

I did spend some time in the Santa Fe's third row, since it was used as a shuttle for journalists between DirtFish and the hotel. Really, it's probably better-sized for kids. But it works for adults in a pinch, too.

Vehicle Specifications
Vehicle2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
Trim levelLimited AWD
Engine3.3 L GDI V6
TransmissionSix-speed Automatic w/ Shiftronic
DrivetrainActive On-Demand AWD w/ AWD Lock
InfotainmentNavigation System w/ Eight-inch Touchscreen
Notable featuresDriver-selectable steering modes (DSSM)Downhill brake controlHill-start assist controlRear-view camera
Fuel economy18 city, 24 highway, 20 combined MPG
MSRP$38,730