What is it: The 2018 Santa Fe Sport starts as an affordable two-row crossover. The Ultimate model we tested adds almost all the bells and whistles, including bigger wheels, a panoramic sunroof, premium audio, an 8-inch touchscreen and more, ending up $13K more expensive than the base model.
Base Price: $38,150 (Ultimate) As-Tested Price: $39,875
Full Review: 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport review
Highlights: The smaller member of the Santa Fe family, the Sport offers lots of usable space for people and cargo in an easy-to-live-with size. This top trim features loads of standard equipment and a 240-hp turbo four, all of which helps make it seem like a more upscale utility vehicle.
Our Opinion: Not to be confused with the three-row Santa Fe (full stop), the Santa Fe Sport is a slightly smaller two-row crossover starting at a more economical price point –- roughly $25K, assuming you’re not getting the Ultimate AWD like our $38K tester here. Yeah, that’s a lot of money to put five people and a dog into a Hyundai crossover…and lest you assume “Ultimate” means “the best” (which Webster’s says it does), note there’s also a Tech package available for an extra $1,600, so it isn’t. That’s how our $35,650 Santa Fe Sport Penultimate becomes the $37,250 Ultimate (for real this time).
It does have most everything a buyer could want, though: Heated, ventilated leather-covered front seats, heated steering wheel, huge panoramic moonroof, power liftgate and all-wheel drive. Hyundai’s excellent BlueLink infotainment interface handles radio, navigation and Bluetooth duties, and while it’s a bit slow to start up, buttons make it easy to access the main features, while touchscreen submenus are clearly labeled and make sense.
Behind the wheel, the Santa Fe Sport delivers a tall driving position with great outward visibility, but at the cost of steering wheel placement – the rim doesn’t adjust far enough forward for me, so I felt like I was reaching for my knees to steer. Similarly, the shapeless seats appear designed for ‘Murican girth with no thigh or side bolstering to speak of – here you sit ON the seat, not in it. Ample electric adjustments mean your experience may vary, but I was never able to get my gangly frame totally comfortable. While I’m griping, steering response isn’t intuitive in low-speed maneuvers: I was constantly having to add more steering input than I expected to need in parking lots and tight turns. Power from the turbo two-liter is more than adequate, though, and aside from some laggy downshifts when getting on the throttle hard, the transmission is programmed just about perfectly. The 240 hp will be a welcome surprise to anyone more familiar with caning a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4.
Overall it’s a nice package in a good-looking family crossover with one of the best warranties in the business; the new Chevy Equinox two-liter turbo probably gets my nod for execution, but the Santa Fe Sport is close enough that the comprehensive Hyundai warranty may put it over the top for shoppers who fit better than I do.
–Andrew Stoy, digital editor
Options: Ultimate Tech Package including smart cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, electronic parking brake, dynamic bending light, high beam assist, auto-leveling headlights ($1,600); carpeted floor mats ($125)
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $38,150 (Santa Fe Sport Ultimate)
As Tested Price: $39,875
Powertrain: 2.0-liter DOHC turbocharged I4, AWD six-speed automatic
Output: 240 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 260 lb-ft @ 1,450-3,500 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,107 lb
Fuel Economy: 19/24/21 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: About as loaded as mass-market crossovers come; great warranty
Cons: Video-game steering; odd ergonomics