Hyundai Santa Fe Sport doesn’t come up short

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport doesn’t come up short

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Improvements to the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe span everything from fresh exterior design and LED lighting signatures to additional infotainment, convenience and safety technologies and new Drive Mode selection with Sport, Eco and Normal settings. For the 2017 Santa Fe Sport model alone, nearly 350 individual parts have been updated, representing about 25 percent of total Santa Fe Sport parts content. Photo by Hyundai

Let’s make this clear up top. The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is not a sporty version of the Santa Fe. Well, in a way it is, but the Sport is a standalone model that is eight inches shorter than its stablemate. That does not mean it comes up short.

Taking a look inside and out of the 2017 Santa Fe Sport are former Wheels editors Jimmy Dinsmore and Dave Mikesell.

DAVE: There is nothing complicated about the Santa Fe Sport. It is a compact crossover that seats five people (the Santa Fe seats seven) and comes in three trims — Base, 2.0T and 2.0T Ultimate, each in front-wheel and all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $25,350 and, like other Hyundai products, comes with a long line of features. There is a significant jump in price when going from the base 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine to the 240-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, but for performance sake, it might all be worth it if our resident hot foot concurs. Jimmy?

JIMMY: Dave, I may have said this a time or two before, but I love turbocharged 4-cylinder engines. Thankfully, this is a hot trend right now in the auto industry. And the Santa Fe’s gasoline direct-injected 2.0-liter engine is a good one. Front-wheel drive is standard, but my tester came with all-wheel drive, which improved the handling. A six-speed automatic transmission was uninspired. There was some turbo lag off the line but otherwise, it was adequate.

DAVE: Hyundai went into full refresh model for the new Santa Fe Sport, remaking the front and rear fascias and changing up the LED headlamps and taillights. While the Sport might be a small SUV at less than 15-and-a-half feet, it does make a visually aggressive statement. My tester was the 2.0T Ultimate so it came with high-intensity discharge headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels (17 inchers are standard), panoramic sunroof and roof rails. Jimmy, take us inside.

JIMMY: The interior of the Santa Fe is special. There are high-quality materials throughout. The technology is good and not cumbersome. There’s a well-organized center stack with a nice combination of buttons and knobs. A panoramic sunroof really adds to the overall appearance of the interior. Rear legroom is fantastic. And the cargo room is above average for the segment. The five-passenger Santa Fe Sport has 35.4 cubic feet behind the second row and 71 cubic feet with rear seats folded flat. There’s a hands-free lift gate which makes getting to that cargo area even easier.

DAVE: With no pretense of cramming a too-small third-row seat into place, the Santa Fe Sport fully utilizes a cargo area with 35.4 cubic feet of space. Folding the back seats down in their entirety — they come in 40/20/40 split fashion — allows for 71.5 cubic feet of space. And what kind of ride will you experience when you’re packed up and ready to go?

JIMMY: Like most crossovers, the Santa Fe drives more like a car than a truck. It’s smooth and comfortable. Cabin and road noise is minimal. I was thankful for blind spot monitors as there’s a large blind spot due to large C-pillars and smaller rear windows. While the driver’s seat is comfortable with a good vantage point of the road, there are some driving obscurities that take some getting used to.

DAVE: The question with the Santa Fe Sport is what will you be willing to pay. All-wheel drive for an additional $1,750 here in the Midwest might be a no-brainer. But you will have to determine whether you want to turn that Base vehicle and its $26K sticker into one that can exceed $40,000.

JIMMY: It’s hard to tell anyone what they should spend, but the turbo engine in the Santa Fe Sport is the way to go. It puts the sport in the Santa Fe. In today’s world of ho-hum SUVs and dull crossovers, this one brings a lot to the table. It has a nice interior, comfortable ride and a turbocharged engine.

David Mikesell is a freelance automotive reviewer based in Indianapolis. Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist.


  • Price/As-tested price………………………………………… $38,250/$40,820
  • Mileage…………………………………… 19 mpg/city; 24 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower…………………………… 240 hp/260 lbs.-ft.
  • Transmission…………………………… 6-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels……………. All-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………. West Point, Georgia

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