More about 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

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From its name, you might surmise that the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport bears the mantle of performance in the compact crossover class. But the truth is that Hyundai uses the Sport moniker to differentiate this two-row small crossover from its big brother, the three-row Santa Fe. A budget-friendly Porsche Macan it’s not. But as an easy-to-drive urban runabout, the Santa Fe Sport should satisfy.


In its lower trim levels, the Sport’s base price is not too far removed from the pricing of popular small crossovers from Honda and Toyota. And yet it’s a little bigger than those models. Four adults will find the interior genuinely spacious and well appointed, and a third adult in the rear is within the realm of possibility. You can also get a lot of features on the Santa Fe Sport, equipping it to luxurylike levels if you choose.

On the downside, the front seats aren’t comfortable enough for everyday driving, the ride is pretty firm, and neither of the two available engines is particularly powerful nor fuel-efficient. Hyundai also limits the availability of some of the vehicle’s driver safety aids to the most expensive trim level. Overall, we view the 2018 Santa Fe Sport as a decent choice for a small crossover but think you could very well be happier with one of its more accomplished rivals.

what’s new
After last year’s refresh, changes to the 2018 Santa Fe Sport are minor and limited to small adjustments to feature availability and option package naming.
we recommend
If it were our money, we’d go with the base Sport model. Its non-turbocharged four-cylinder isn’t as peppy as the 2.0T’s turbocharged unit, but it’s also far less expensive. We think this year’s Value package is a good deal since it bundles plenty of desirable features (such as heated front seats, a touchscreen and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality) and doesn’t add too much to the sticker price. That said, if you’re also thinking of adding the Premium Equipment package, you might as well step up to the 2.0T; it includes that package, and the fuel economy drop is meager.

trim levels & features
The 2018 Santa Fe Sport compact crossover is Hyundai’s entry in one of the most hotly contested segments in the U.S. (The similarly named Santa Fe has three rows and is reviewed separately.) Its reasonably priced base Sport model is powered by a four-cylinder engine and includes a modest number of standard features; several option packages are available to raise the luxury factor. The 2.0T and 2.0T Ultimate are pricey upgrades, but the turbocharged engine underhood is considerably more powerful. Some of the base model’s packages are standard on the 2.0T models, narrowing the price gap.

trim tested
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our Full Test of the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Santa Fe Sport has received some revisions, including a refresh in 2017 that brought revised exterior styling, interior trim modifications and an increased number of available advanced safety systems. Additionally, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto became available in most models, and both engines saw a reduction in power. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year’s Santa Fe Sport, however.
driving
Thanks to the 2.0T’s turbocharged four-cylinder, merging into fast-moving highway traffic is easy. The six-speed automatic is a smooth shifter and good about using the engine’s ample torque instead of downshifting. Brake performance, though, is weak.
acceleration
The turbocharged four-cylinder pulls strong at higher speeds. In testing of a 2017 240-hp 2.0T, we measured a zero-to-60-mph time of 7.4 seconds, which is about average for a small crossover with an upgraded engine.
braking
Our Sante Fe Sport tester needed 127 feet to stop from 60 mph (on the long side for the class) and we experienced some pedal fade. The brakes are easy to modulate for coming to smooth stops, but the pedal travel is long, giving the feeling they are underpowered.
steering
Steering effort is on the lighter side, especially in parking lots and at low speeds, but the effort ramps up nicely through corners and as speeds increase. There’s enough steering feel to give you a decent sense of the road.
handling
It’s not as sporty as its name implies, but the Santa Fe Sport is still a decent-handling crossover. Body roll is well-controlled, and it showed good poise through turns, even if it doesn’t have a ton of grip. You can have some fun hustling it along twisty roads.
drivability
The Santa Fe Sport has an easygoing character, with supple gas pedal movement, light steering and easy-to-modulate brakes. Cruise control overshoots by 4 mph, but the transmission attempts to compensate by downshifting to low speed.
comfort
We found the rear seats a bit more comfortable than the fronts, which are not quite up to all-day road trip duty. We also appreciated the greatly adjustable seatback rake of those rear seats. Ride cushioning is disappointing, though interior noise suppression is quite good.
seat comfort
The front seats are mounted a bit high, but they are wide and should suit adults of many sizes. The cushions are firm, and the 2.0T’s standard leather isn’t overly supple. The armrests lack padding, too. Reclining rear seats are more enveloping.
ride comfort
The ride is on the firm side for the class. The suspension has an unrefined feel to it, and big bumps can unsettle the vehicle. Smaller highway pavement ripples cause a bouncy effect, translating to vibrations entering the cabin.
noise & vibration
This is an impressively quiet vehicle. There’s some minor hum from the turbo four-cylinder, but it’s a smooth engine and even at full throttle it doesn’t get unruly or loud. The tires are near silent, and there’s minimal wind noise.
interior
The Santa Fe Sport features a nicely designed interior. The center stack is interesting to look at, yet its controls are easy to use with big knobs and buttons and an intuitive touchscreen. Most interior measurements (other than front headroom) are better than rivals. Rear outward view is poor.
seat comfort
The front seats are mounted a bit high, but they are wide and should suit adults of many sizes. The cushions are firm, and the 2.0T’s standard leather isn’t overly supple. The armrests lack padding, too. Reclining rear seats are more enveloping.
ride comfort
The ride is on the firm side for the class. The suspension has an unrefined feel to it, and big bumps can unsettle the vehicle. Smaller highway pavement ripples cause a bouncy effect, translating to vibrations entering the cabin.
noise & vibration
This is an impressively quiet vehicle. There’s some minor hum from the turbo four-cylinder, but it’s a smooth engine and even at full throttle it doesn’t get unruly or loud. The tires are near silent, and there’s minimal wind noise.
interior
The Santa Fe Sport features a nicely designed interior. The center stack is interesting to look at, yet its controls are easy to use with big knobs and buttons and an intuitive touchscreen. Most interior measurements (other than front headroom) are better than rivals. Rear outward view is poor.
ease of use
All buttons and knobs are fairly large and well-labeled and have a nice, damped feel to them. Bluetooth phone pairing is quick and easy. The touchscreen has nice-size icons and is one of the easier interfaces to use. The instrument panel is easy to read.
getting in/getting out
The front doors don’t open wide, but the entryway is tall enough that it’s easy to hop in and out. The seat height is near perfect for easy entry and exit. The rear wheelwell doesn’t intrude as with some vehicles in its class, and there’s plenty of foot space for exiting.
roominess
The optional panoramic sunroof reduces front and rear headroom, but most folks should be fine with it. A slim center console means the driver’s right knee isn’t constantly rubbing against it. Rear kneeroom is excellent, and there’s good foot space under front seats.
visibility
Slim windshield pillars plus tall side windows give good views out the front and side. Upward-sweeping sheet metal and thick rear pillars create large blind spots in the rear three-quarter view. It’s a good thing 2.0T model comes with blind-spot monitoring.
quality
Not as many soft-touch materials as in some rivals, but the interior looks and feels of good quality. Power window switches look cool, but the edges can be sharp on fingers. Our test car had an odd rattle from the rearview mirror area.
utility
Excellent small-item storage with generously sized door pockets, front tray and two-tiered center bin. Cargo space is 35.4 cubic feet (71.5 cubes with the seats folded), which is very good for a small crossover SUV. You need to give the remote seat-release levers a strong pull to make them work.

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