If you seek historical evidence of Hyundai’s massive leaps forward in terms of design, engineering, packaging, and technology, look no further than the Santa Fe crossover suv. Launched for the 2001 model year and taking the form of an overweight, misshapen, garishly decorated compact SUV, the Santa Fe morphed into an appealing and attractive, if somewhat conservative, crossover that provided all the passenger and cargo space a family of four might reasonably require. Now, the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe is redesigned one more time, marking the next design frontier for the automaker.
Dubbed “Storm Edge,” which might as well describe the automotive industry sales threat that has been approaching from the Korean peninsula for more than a decade, Hyundai’s newest styling themes are reflected in the new 5-passenger Santa Fe Sport, which replaces the previous Santa Fe, and the new 7-passenger Santa Fe, which replaces the previous Hyundai Veracruz. The Santa Fe Sport is still sized as a “tweener,” one that competes with a range of compact and midsize 5-passenger crossovers like the Ford Escape and Ford Edge, or the Nissan Rogue and Nissan Murano; while the larger Santa Fe goes head-to-head with midsize models such as the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, and others.
In addition to the two-pronged model lineup and the new exterior designs, the 2013 Santa Fe offers new powertrains, new technologies, and many more features that can push prices far beyond previous levels. To find out how well this new crossover serves as a family schlepper, I borrowed a Santa Fe Sport 2.0T with all the trimmings, installed the child safety seats, loaded up the stroller, and almost had a heart attack over the price tag.