You don’t need four children or even three to enjoy the advantages of a stretched, maxi-seat crossover wagon. I found a six-seat Hyundai Santa Fe the perfect transporter for just two.
That’s because John Wilson, my 8-year-old grandson, who lives in Methuen, likes a whole row for himself. He took the far-back seat of the Santa Fe I evaluated last week. Those two seats in the third row fold open individually to provide seating and drop flat to expand the rear cargo floor. For John, the rear seating space supplied a private enclosure for his antics.
Since John’s antics can annoy his 13-year-old sister, Madeleine Zygmont, she was equally happy to ride alone in the middle row of the three-row Santa Fe, well separated from her third-grade brother.
Come to think of it, as the Santa Fe’s driver up in the first row of seats, I was happy to have John far in the back too, for the same reason as Madeleine.
Families are finding all sorts of reasons to like the new, expanded version of the 2013 Santa Fe, reported Michael Palmer, Hyundai sales manager at Salem Ford Hyundai. The Salem, N.H., dealership started selling the model in April, when the first samples arrived from Hyundai’s factory in West Point, Ga., (one of two vehicle-assembly plants operated in the U.S. by Korea-based Hyundai). In the two months since then, the popularity for the longer version of the Santa Fe has surged, said Palmer.
Salem Ford Hyundai now sells about as many stretched Santa Fe models as its does standard-size versions, which have been available for nearly a year.
The standard-size model is called the Santa Fe Sport, distinguishing it from the longer, extra-seat version, which is called simply the Santa Fe. Hyundai launched the new, advanced generation of the Santa Fe Sport last August. It quickly grew in popularity until car buyers became so anxious to get one that the Georgia plant couldn’t keep up. Since the new, long version joined the family two months ago, customers have only increased.
John Krafcik, president of Hyundai Motor America, recently noted that the company’s plants are working at full capacity – they just can’t make anymore. So far this year, Hyundai is selling better than 20 more Santa Fe models than it did last year, when the prior-generation Santa Fe was available. It’s reasonable to assume that the new Santa Fe would be beating its predecessor by a greater amount if the company could only make more.
The Santa Fe models are crossover SUVs, combining the comfort and road manners of a passenger car with the versatility and high-hauling capacity of a wagon-back sport-utility vehicle. The Santa Fe Sport seats five and starts at a list price of $25,295 for a front-wheel-drive model, with all-wheel-drive versions starting at $27,0454.
At Salem Ford Hyundai, the Sport sells to a wide variety of drivers, said Palmer, the sales manager. The customer list ranges from families to business people who haul around supplies and merchandize.
“We have a lot of sales reps who work out of their cars. It’s easy for them to work out of the back of a Santa Fe Sport,” he illustrated.
“But the seven-passenger Santa Fe is all families,” said Palmer.
To accommodate the extra row of seats, the Santa Fe is about 10 inches longer than the Santa Fe Sport. It starts at $29,455 for a front-drive model, and $31,205 for a version equipped with all-wheel drive.
For an additional $4,750, you can step up from the entry-level Santa Fe to the Limited version. The Limited seats six people because it carries two captain’s chairs in the center row, instead of the straight-across bench seat that handles three riders.
But even the starting level of the Santa Fe comes very well equipped. Its features include18-inch alloy wheels, seven air bags, filtered air conditioning and ventilation ducts in the second and third rows, LED headlight accents, tire-pressure monitoring, Bluetooth hands-free phone link, fingertip controls on the steering wheel, and driver selectable steering modes. The back of the middle-row seat splits three ways to increase the number of configurations for hauling cargo along with passengers. As an option, you can purchase a middle row with a two-way split and seats that slide back and forth for added leg room, and recline.
The two captain’s chairs in the six-passenger, Limited version slide and recline. The Limited also adds such features as heated front-row and second-row seats, leather upholstery, heated outside mirrors, power tailgate, and fog lights.
The new, long-version Santa Fe weighs about 400 pounds more than the shorter Santa Fe Sport. Accordingly, it comes with a larger engine, carrying a 3.3-liter V6 that generates 290 horsepower. The Santa Fe Sport comes with a four-cylinder engine that delivers an ample, 190 horsepower. For an additional $3,250, an optional turbocharged four cylinder lifts the Sport’s horsepower to 264. Both versions use a six-speed automatic transmission.
Palmer stated that seven-passenger crossovers are replacing minivans as the vehicle of choice for active and large families. It’s easy to see why a model like the Santa Fe would win favor. It has a very sleek, sporty and contemporary look, while it retains the seating and hauling flexibility of a minivan – admittedly with less cabin space overall, but still with plenty of room for most families. The Santa Fe is comfortable for passengers, and engaging for the driver, with quick, crisp reflexes and responsive engine power.
As Palmer said, the new Santa Fe is a complete package that, for a lot of people, is proving irresistible.
Jeffrey Zygmont is an author of fiction and non-fiction books, and a long-time auto writer. Contact him at www.jeffreyzygmont.com.
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Vehicle type: 4-door, 6- and 7-passenger, front- and all-wheel-drive crossover wagon Price range: $29,445 to $35,955 (plus options) Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles basic warranty; 10 years/100,000 miles powertrain warranty; 7 years/unlimited miles corrosion warranty; 5 years/unlimited miles roadside assistance Engine: 3.3-liter V6 Power: 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm; 252 lb.-ft. torque at 5,200 rpm Transmission: 6-speed automatic Fuel economy: 18 mpg city; 24 mpg highway (with AWD) Wheelbase: 110 inches Length: 193 inches Width: 74 inches Height: 66 inches Weight: 3,993 pounds Fuel capacity: 18.8 gallons Turning circle: 36.9 feet