Hyundai has a twofold entry into the compact SUV/crossover category producing the three-rows of seating Santa Fe and the 8.5-inch shorter Santa Fe Sport with five-passenger seating. We recently had a chance to renew our acquaintance with the Santa Fe Sport.
Design has been a high priority of Hyundai for several years and their entire 14 vehicle lineup is looking very good with distinctive, fresh designs.
One of the things we always notice about a car is the sound the doors make when they close. A good solid ?thud? like we heard from the Santa Fe, makes us think ?quality? and it certainly looks and feels like a well-built SUV. The same goes for the way the switches and controls operate and sound, they should feel positive, work smoothly and not feel cheap or plastic-like and the Santa Fe passed with flying colors.
Weighing in at about 3,500 pounds (down 266 pounds from the previous generation) the Sport is one of the lightest in the midlevel crossover grouping, but when driving, it feels much more substantial. The ride is solid, comfortable and quiet. The handling is good, but not in a sport sedan way. There?s a little body lean on the corners and a bit of float on rough roads, but that?s more the nature of SUVs and Crossover Utility Vehicles.
The Santa Fe Sport comes in two trim levels, each with its own engine, and in the Sport that?s a 190 horsepower 2.4-liter engine. It?s a naturally aspirated, direct injection four-cylinder with a six-speed automatic transmission. Accelerating from 0 to 60 mph takes 8.6 seconds. It has an EPA fuel economy rating of 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. We actually averaged 25.1 mpg during a week of normal mixed driving.
Having a choice, our personal preference would be the Sport 2.0T. Its engine is a turbocharged 264 horsepower 2.0-liter GDI (gas direct injection) Theta II engine. Both engines respond nicely, but the extra power for passing or merging into traffic of the turbocharged engine is a big plus in our book. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in a quick 6.5 seconds. There?s a little fuel economy penalty for the extra power, but it?s still good for a mid-size CUV – 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. Sometimes four-cylinder engines can be a bit rough or shaky, but both of these are smooth and quiet at all speeds. Both models come with a standard six-speed automatic transmission.
Our Santa Fe Sport test vehicle was equipped with the standard front-wheel drive system, but it?s also available with Active Cornering All-Wheel Drive, which works with the Vehicles Stability Management System to distribute the power to the tires with the best traction. Living in the northwest, where we get snow and lots of rain, we think AWD is a must.
All Santa Fe models have hill start assist control, which allows the driver to move a foot from the brake to the accelerator, with the brakes holding for a few seconds to keep the vehicle from rolling back. There?s also a Downhill Brake Control system that monitors wheel speed and steering angle to maintain control and speed on steep declines without having to use the brake. The sport has a tight 35.8-foot turning radius, which help give it an agile feel in close quarters. It also has a Driver Selectable Steering Mode allowing the driver to set the steering characteristics to the type of driving planned ? Comfort for city and parking, Normal for mixed conditions or Sport of higher speeds like on freeways or winding roads.
The Santa Fe Sport has good cargo capacity holding 35.4 cubic feet of cargo behind the second row of seats or up to 71.5 cubic feet when the rear seat backs are folded. We liked the extra storage space tucked conveniently under the rear cargo space, too.
Hyundai has embraced the new technologies making available several new safety features. Our test vehicle had packages which added features like blind spot monitoring, push button start, heated exterior mirrors and windshield wiper deicer. The 2015 model adds Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist and Rear Parking Assistance Systems. In addition to the extensive list of standard equipment the three added feature packages added upscale features like leather seating, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, side window shades, navigation with eight-inch touch screen, panoramic sunroof and several other features. With the added equipment, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is as well-furnished as almost any other vehicle in the category.
Pricing starts at $25,825, including the destination charge, for the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport with front wheel drive. The turbocharged 2.0T is $32,125. All-wheel drive adds $1,750 to either model. With all the available option packages, the 2.0T pricing peaks at $38,225.
A couple of important features we would order on the Santa Fe are the navigation system with eight-inch multifunction touch screen and the Blue Link Telematics system. The navigation system which is included with the Tech Package is one of the most user-friendly systems we?ve seen. The package also includes some great features like rear parking assist, ventilated front seats, panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, etc. Blue Link telematics adds several available levels of features including Automatic Collision Notification, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Automatic Diagnostic Trouble Code Notification, Monthly Vehicle Health Report in-vehicle Car Care maintenance scheduling and even a turn-by-turn navigation system. The Blue Link system is part of the Popular Equipment Group which also adds several other comfort and convenience features and the rearview camera. All the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe models have iPod?, USB, auxiliary input jacks and wireless audio streaming.
The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has attractive styling, good performance, a comfortable interior and all the latest technologies, plus, of course, Hyundai?s industry best 10 year/ 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and five-year 60,000 new vehicle warranty.