NEW YORK--Today at the 2012 New York auto show, Hyundai debuted not one, but two new versions of the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe for two different kinds of crossover buyers.
The first debut was the Santa Fe Sport, a small crossover that seats five. Under its hood, drivers have a choice between either a 190 horsepower direct-injected 2.4-liter engine that should net an estimated 33 highway mpg or the turbocharged and direct-injected 2.0-liter engine that outputs 264 horsepower at the expense of a pair of highway mpg. If these engines sound familiar, it's because they're the same that you can find powering the Hyundai Sonata. Whether this shared architecture means we'll ever see a Santa Fe Hybrid, remains to be seen.
Like the Sonata, the Santa Fe defaults to a front-wheel-drive configuration with a six-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the sedan, however, Hyundai's new crossover can be optioned with an all-wheel drive system that sends power on demand to the rear axle. Through a combination of true torque vectoring and torque braking, Hyundai claims that the Santa Fe Sport can control traction to each individual wheel without the driver ever knowing the system has intervened.
Hyundai also features an interesting Driver Selectable Steering Modes (DSSM) feature that gives users the choice between three settings for the power-steering system. Comfort decreases steering effort by 10 percent from the baseline normal mode for easy one-handed parking lot cruising. Likewise, the Sport setting increases steering effort by 10 percent, while also increasing steering feel for tackling winding roads.
In the cabin, the Santa Fe features the third generation of its navigation and infotainment system and the automaker's BlueLink telematics service, displaying its interface on what is rapidly becoming an industry standard, a large 8-inch touch screen. There's also a mid-tier cabin tech package that uses a smaller 4.3-inch display. However, stepping down from the top-tier also ditches the Santa Fe's Infinity 550-watt, Logic 7 audio system with 11 speakers and an 8-inch powered subwoofer.
When it was done showing off the Santa Fe Sport, Hyundai gave us "one more thing" and pulled the wraps off of a second, long wheelbase version of the crossover, dubbed plainly the Santa Fe. The longer wheelbase makes room for a third row of seats, bumping the capacity up to seven passengers. The bigger vehicle also gets a bigger heart in the form of the 3.3-liter GDI V-6 engine that we saw previously debut under the hood of the Hyundai Azera. Power is estimated at 290 horsepower and the towing capacity is increased to 3,500 pounds. The Santa Fe also gains blind-spot detection to help users cope with the longer chassis. (Blind-spot detection is not available on the smaller Sport.)
Otherwise, the Santa Fe is identical to the Santa Fe Sport, offering the same cabin tech options and all-wheel drive system. Expect to see the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport hit dealerships in late summer of this year with the larger seven-passenger Santa Fe going on sale in January 2013. Hyundai has yet to release pricing for either model.