MPG fiasco tarnishes launch of superb new Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe Review

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Review:

Before we get to the good stuff – and, make no mistake, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T is, indeed, good stuff – let’s deal with the unpleasantness first.

It seems Hyundai’s been overestimating the mpg talent of some of its models.

If you haven’t heard, here’s the gist:

On Nov. 2, Hyundai conceded that its window-sticker fuel economy estimates on some models since 2011 have been too high. FYI: The EPA tests only a small percentage of models each year, trusting manufacturers to test their remaining models using EPA protocols. The manufacturer’s results are then sent to the feds.

Hyundai’s results, it turns out, were inflated for some models. The company attributes that to “procedural errors” during testing in Korea.

Hyundai is now seeking to make things right with owners of affected models via debit-card reimbursements for the extra gasoline they’ve had to buy. All the information, including affected models and the reimbursement process, is at (The Kia brand, owned by Hyundai, also is involved. Kia owners should visit

The all-new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe, available in five-passenger Sport trim or as a six- or seven-passenger long-wheelbase model, is one of the affected vehicles.

Specifically, Sport comes with a 190-hp, 2.4-liter I-4 or a 2.0-liter, turbocharged 264-hp four. LWB is powered by a 294-hp V-6. Every Santa Fe gets a six-speed automatic, and all are available with front- or all-wheel drive.

We drove a front-drive Sport turbo – Sport 2.0T to its friends – so let’s establish its actual EPA mpg numbers right up front. They are 20 city/27 hwy/23 combined, not the 21/31/25 published on our Santa Fe’s window sticker. (Hyundai dealers now have accurate EPA mpg numbers for all models.)

For the record, in roughly 200 miles of mixed city/hwy driving we got 22 mpg.

Having established all that, let’s talk about the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T itself.

From behind the wheel, it’s a gem.

Our blown four’s power delivery was enthusiastic, with turbo lag being a non-issue. Meanwhile, the six-speed shifts seamlessly in auto mode while trading gears on demand in manual mode via the floor shifter. Handling also is confident on a fully independent suspension that nicely balances ride comfort with athleticism.

Room is excellent up front and good in back. And the clever cargo bay offers plenty of hidden under-floor storage while Sport’s standard three-section 40/20/40-split second row offers myriad folding options.

The instrument panel is handsome, switchgear is intuitive, and all the modern telematics are available via Hyundai’s smartphone-friendly BlueLink infotainment package.

Finally, Santa Fe looks great wearing its slightly more conservative version of Hyundai’s “Fluidic Sculpture” styling.

If you’re not put off by the mpg snafu – and the fact that Santa Fe in turbo guise gets 23 combined mpg, not 25 – then this one should be on your short list.

Dan Wiese is a freelance automotive writer living in St. Louis. He also is a regular automotive contributor to Fox 2 KTVI-TV St. Louis. You can e-mail him at:

TYPE: Five- (Sport), six- (GLS) or seven-passenger (Limited) crossover SUV
DRIVE FORMAT: Front- or all-wheel drive
BASE PRICE: $25,275
PRICE AS DRIVEN: $34,175; a Sport 2.0T with these major options: $2,900 Technology Pkg. (Panoramic sun roof, navigation, more), $2,450 Leather and Premium Equipment Pkg. (rear-view camera, dual-zone auto climate, heated rear seats, more)
ENGINES: Sport: 2.4-liter I-4 or 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4; GLS/Limited: 3.3-liter V-6
HORSEPOWER: I-4: 190 at 6300 rpm; I-4 turbo: 264 at 6000 rpm; V-6: 294 at 6400 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.): I-4: 181 at 4250 rpm; I-4 turbo: 269 at 1750 rpm; V-6: 252 at 5200 rpm
RECOMMENDED FUEL: Regular, all engines
TRANSMISSIONS (all engines): Six-speed automatic
SUSPENSION: Fully independent
AIR BAGS: Front, front side, front/rear side curtain, driver knee
BRAKES: Four-wheel disc with ABS, electronic stability control, traction control, brake assist, electronic brake force distribution
EPA MPG: I-4: 21 city/29 hwy/24 combined (AWD: 20/26/22); I-4 turbo: 20/27/23 (AWD: 19/24/21); V-6: 19/26/22 (AWD: not available)
WHEELBASE: Sport: 106.3 inches; GLS/Limited: 110.2 inches
LENGTH: Sport: 184.6 inches; GLS/Limited: 193.2 inches
CURB WEIGHT: 3,459 lbs. – 4,012 lbs.
FUEL TANK: I-4s: 16.4 gallons; V-6: 18.0 gallons
CARGO: Sport (behind 2nd/1st rows): 35.4 cu. ft./71.5 cu. ft.; LWB: (behind 3rd/2nd/1st rows): 80 cu. ft./41 cu. ft./13.4 cu. ft.
WHERE BUILT: Sport: West Point, Georgia; LWB: South Korea

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