The Santa Fe Sport’s top engine offering is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine; with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Output is 264 horsepower. If you don’t want to upgrade, you can settle for a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 190 horsepower.
The Santa Fe Sport will be more powerful than the Tucson, which offers at most a turbo 1.6-liter four cylinder engine (175 hp); or on base models a non-turbo 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with 164 horsepower
Both my test vehicles had the turbo engine options, and impressed with their speed and acceleration. Base models will be a bit less powerful when you’re trying to get up to speed.
Overall smoothness of the ride and handling was top-notch on both models, and road noise was kept outside. Since it’s smaller and weighs less, the Tucson is generally a bit more nimble to maneuver than the Santa Fe Sport.
Both vehicles come with FWD, but can be upgraded to AWD. Towing capacity is 2,000 pounds on both vehicles.
Hyundai’s Bluelink infotainment system is among the systems that I’ve had few issues with and generally enjoy using. Among new features for this year’s Hyundai vehicles is the ability to remote start the car from your smartphone.
For 2017, the Santa Fe Sport adds a standard rearview camera, plus options for auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning.
The Tucson has excellent safety scores -- even slightly better than the Santa Fe Sport.
Safety options you can add on the Tucson include blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning, On higher trim levels you can also now use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
Official fuel mileage numbers on the AWD Santa Fe Sport are 19 city/24 highway/21 combined (not great numbers); Tucson with AWD comes in strongly at 24 city/28 highway/25 combined. This is a pretty big difference, and it’s the main reason (other than price) why some folks will drift down the lineup to the Tucson when comparing these two vehicles.
Here’s another pretty big difference. The Santa Fe Sport I tested was loaded and came in at $40,820; base price starts just over $25K. The Tucson I tested was just over $35,000; base price starts just under $23,000. So we’re talking a few thousand difference on the low end, and as much as $5K difference on the high end.
There’s a seemingly endless lineup of compact SUVs available to consumers, but if you’re a fan of the Hyundai lineup, between the Santa Fe Sport and the Tucson they have you covered with a couple of excellent options. They have their differences both physically and power-wise, and you’ll have to determine what is more important to you (power and space, or fuel milage and price). If it’s the former, Santa Fe Sport will be your best bet; if it’s the latter, go with the Tucson.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.