Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

2017 Acura ILX

Significantly freshened, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport compact crossover gets new front and rear fascias, headlights, taillights, and trim panels.

Sharp-looking inside and out, the refreshed 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport fits between the bigger Santa Fe and the smaller Tucson, borrowing a few details from each. We think the Santa Fe Sport is the best-looking member of Hyundais crossover SUV trio.

Nearly one-fourth of the Santa Fe Sports parts have changed for the 2017 model year, aiming to refine its cabin and improve ride qualities, though nothing has changed mechanically.

The standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with direct injection developing 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. Mating with a 6-speed automatic transmission, the 2.4-liter model is EPA-rated at up to 27 mpg Highway. Though passable for fuel-efficiency, the Santa Fe Sport falls short of gas-mileage estimates for some competitive models. While priced right, the 2.4-liter engine, also used in the Sonata sedan, can feel breathless and overtaxed, especially when carrying passengers.

We recommend the optional turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which yields 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. In that installation, the automatic gets slightly different gearing, to help quicken takeoffs a bit. Also shared with the Sonata, the 2.0-liter turbo comes in two trim levels, each adding popular features.

All-wheel drive is available with either engine. In each Santa Fe Sport model, Drive Mode selection has three settings: Sport, Eco, and Normal. Precise handling isnt the Sports principal talent, demonstrated by less-than-sharp steering feel.

Crash-test scores have been excellent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Sport a rating of five stars overall, as well as for both frontal and side impacts. Rollover resistance brought a four-star result, which isnt unusual. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Good scores for its crash tests, including the small overlap collision, which simulates hitting a pole or tree. If equipped with optional forward collision warning, with automatic emergency braking, the Sport earned a Top Safety Pick Plus award.

Rearview cameras are newly standard on all 2017 models. Surround-view cameras, lane-keep assist, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control are optional.

2016 Santa Fe Sport

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a five-passenger crossover SUV, smaller then the seven-passenger Santa Fe and powered by a choice of two engines. Attractive styling mixes with an abundance of standard features to make the Santa Fe Sport a contender against some of Americas best-selling vehicles, led by the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Ford Escape.

Slotted between the recently redesigned Tucson at the compact end of the scale, and the larger three-row Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Sport gets our vote as the best of the three Hyundai models. Santa Fe Sport was launched as a 2013 model, along with the longer Santa Fe. Little has changed for the 2016 model year.

The 2016 Santa Fe Sport comes as one trim level, with a choice of two engines. A normally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder makes 190 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder produces 264 horsepower and 259 pound-feet. The turbo delivers capable acceleration, with little loss in highway gas mileage.

Fuel economy for the standard 2.4-liter engine is EPA-rated at 20/27 mpg City/Highway, versus 19/27 mpg for the turbo. For drivers who relish performance even in a utility vehicle, the turbo offers an acceptable trade-off.

Each direct-injected engine mates with a well-behaved 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-drive and all-wheel drive layouts are available. All-wheel drive exacts a gas mileage penalty: 19/25 mpg City/Highway for the 2.4-liter, and 18/24 mpg for the turbo. An all-wheel-drive Honda CR-V, in contrast, is EPA-rated at 31 mpg Highway driving.

Crossovers need to emphasize space and utility, and the Santa Fe Sport complies. Space is ample for five passengers. The available sliding second-row bench can move 5.2 inches fore and aft, increasing either cargo or passenger space, as in a Chevrolet Equinox.

The front seats offer good support. The 40/20/40 split second-row seat reclines and folds, to carry longer objects.

Ride quality may be the Santa Fe Sports prime attribute. On the highway or around town, its nearly always calm and collected. Three-mode steering isnt so helpful. We prefer Normal or Sport, because Comfort responds too slowly.

Powertrains are well-muted, and the driving experience is largely smooth and effortless. At times, the automatic transmission responds slowly when gear changes are called for.

Hyundais standard BlueLink telematics system incorporates Bluetooth streaming for apps, and turn-by-turn navigation, working in conjunction with a smartphone.

Crash-test scores from the federal government are good. The Santa Fe Sport earned a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


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