Hyundai stretches the Santa Fe
Choices are a good thing, right? Paper or plastic? Red or white? Beavis or Butthead? Now the good people at Hyundai are adding to that decision dilemma with their newly redesigned 2013 Santa Fe sport-ute. So last year they came up with the all-new compact Santa Fe Sport. It boasted seats for five, a spunky 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a body more toned and buffed than David Beckham’s. And, in Hyundai style, it offered great value with a base sticker of $24,450.But now there’s a brand new s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d Santa Fe with three rows, seats for either six or seven, silky-smooth V-6 power and pricing from $29,205. Decisions, decisions. Hyundai designers have done a fine job adding an extra 8.5 inches to the length without making it look like a Prom Night stretched limo. New rear side windows also lessen the funky, upswept-window look of the Sport version. But what those extra inches offer is real stretch-out space in the front and middle rows, decent kiddy space back in the third row, and plenty of load space. With its 290-horse 3.3-liter V-6 under the hood, the long-wheelbase Santa Fe is a refined, enthusiastic performer with more than enough oomph for freeway passing. It’ll also average a respectable 25 to the gallon on the highway and let you tow up to 5,000 pounds. The steering maybe a little on the light side for some tastes, but the big Hyundai always feels safe and controlled through the twisty bits and the ride has a nice Euro firmness to it. This is a terrific family hauler that’s practical, versatile and high on quality. And if you stick with the base, front-drive GLS, you can drive if off the lot for under $30,000. Then the choice will be what color to order. Me? I’d go for the yummy sounding Frosted Mocha.