One of the things we really like about our long-term 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is that it's a great road-trip companion. We recently loaded it up with enough clothing and gear for a relaxing getaway to Daytona Beach. Along the way, the Santa Fe proved that Hyundai has come a long way from being a manufacturer of economy cars to a builder of top-notch cars and crossovers.

Great Features

After getting breakfast at the local Waffle House and gassing up, we finally started our trek toward Daytona Beach. After being on the road for a few hours, we started to really see how the Santa Fe performed on the open highway. The seats were comfortable and the power adjustable lumbar support on the driver's seat was an added bonus. It's perfect for those times when being on the road for several hours can really wear on your back.

Our Santa Fe was also equipped with the Leather and Premium Equipment package, which adds convenient features such as dual automatic temperature control, a power front passenger seat and leather seating surfaces. Another interesting feature was the driver-selectable steering modes. After experimenting with this feature, we discovered that the Comfort and Normal settings are great for highway driving, while the tighter Sport mode was best suited for cruising around town. In back, we found the seats comfortable enough with adequate legroom and plenty of support. Cargo space in the rear was ample enough for four large pieces of luggage and a couple overnight bags.

Road Manners

Out on the road, the turbocharged 4-cylinder provided plenty of power but was a tad noisy during acceleration and passing. The 6-speed automatic transmission shifted smoothly and didn't seem to have trouble finding the right gear like some other SUVs that we've tested. On the highway, the Santa Fe returned 28 miles per gallon, and in combined city and highway driving, it was good for 21 mpg. Another feature we appreciated was all-wheel drive, which provided sure-footed traction through several pop-up thunderstorms we encountered. One small disappointment, however, was the number of times we had to stop and fill up. We only traveled around 320 miles per tank due to Santa Fe's 17.1-gallon fuel capacity.

A Few Bumps Along the Way

There were a few miscellaneous things we noticed that we felt would greatly benefit the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe if modified. For one thing, the tiny info screen on the dash was difficult to read, especially in sunny conditions. Also, some extra soundproofing would possibly deaden some of the road noise coming from the tires. Even on smooth pavement, the noise seemed a bit excessive. The back-seat area would benefit from having additional power connectors and a USB port or two. This would be especially helpful if we were traveling with children who normally take along iPods and iPads for entertainment.

Overall, we really enjoyed the time spent driving the Santa Fe Sport on our Daytona Beach road trip. Hopefully we have time to plan another trip before we have to give back this enjoyable SUV.

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Tommy Flanagan is a car data analyst with Autotrader.com's automotive content team. He is a General Motors muscle car and pickup enthusiast. His hobbies include attending classic car shows, collecting antique auto memorabilia and weekend road trips. He also has his own muscle car blog, tommyscarblog.wordpress.com.

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