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2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a standout two-row SUV Featured

Jun 26, 2018 Hit: 251 Written by 
The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport faces tough competitors in the SUV battleground, but comes out with high marks.
The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport faces tough competitors in the SUV battleground, but comes out with high marks. Photo by Matt Myftiu/AutoTechReviews.com

Not all vehicles named Santa Fe are the same. Knowing that one size won’t fit all SUV shoppers, Hyundai aims to please all potential buyers with both a three-row Santa Fe model, plus a two-row Santa Fe Sport model -- because for many people that third row would never be used.

I recently spent some time in a 2018 Santa Fe Sport, and I’m back with a full report on how it stacks up in the SUV landscape (hint: pretty well).

LOOKS

If you’re looking to make an impression, the exterior profile of the 2018 Santa Fe Sport really does stand out in the class. While not overly fancy, it’s got an attractive grille and headlight design, and a somewhat sleek package for an SUV.

The vehicle I tested, a 2018 Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate AWD, featured 19-inch alloy wheels, roof side rails, LED daytime running lights, fog lights, auto HID headlights, LED taillights, and power side mirrors with turn signal indicators.

Inside, there were sharp wood highlights spread throughout the interior, plus truly comfortable leather seating, not to mention an attractive panoramic sunroof that lets you appreciate the outside world more while driving. Leather was also featured on the steering wheel and shift knob.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle:: 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
  • Price as tested:: $39,875 (starts at $21,200)
  • Best feature:: Well-appointed cabin, responsive and enjoyable ride
  • Rating:: 4 out of five stars
  • Who will want this vehicle?:: Midsize SUV buyers seeking a truly well-rounded two-row vehicle



The comfort level was about as good as I’ve seen in this segment, both in front and back. Leg room is impressive, and even on long road trips none of the five max passengers should feel uncomfortable in the Santa Fe Sport.

The lack of the third row helps create the Impressive storage space in the Santa Fe Sport, which is among best the class in this area.

Other creature comforts featured on the Santa Fe Sport are: Manual rear side window shades; Heated and ventilated front seats; Heated rear seats; Heated steering wheel; Folding rear seats with recline function; and dual auto temp control with clean air ionizer.

ENGINE, HORSEPOWER

While the base Santa Fe Sport features a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine offering 185 hp and 178 lb.-ft. of torque, the trim level I tested was a step up from that.

It offered a 2.0-liter, turbo four-cylinder engine; 6-speed automatic transmission with 240 hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. While there is a price bump to get the higher power numbers, you’ll definitely feel the difference on the roadways.

Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is offered on all trim levels.

 

To put it succinctly, you’ll find little to dislike in the Santa Fe Sport’s ride quality, especially with the 2.0 turbo four engine.

It’s quick, it’s smooth, and it’s quiet. Head-to-head against the Rogue/CR-V/RAV4 and others in the segment, it’s right near the top in terms of overall experience.

You also have a drive mode select you can use (eco, sport, normal), depending on the conditions you’re driving in.

TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

Those looking to keep their family safe will be happy to hear that the Santa Fe offers excellent safety ratings (nearly 5 stars all around).

The optional Ultimate Tech Package features helpful aides like Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start; Auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection; Lane Departure Warning; Dynamic Bending Light and more.

Coming standard are: Vehicle stability management with traction control; front, side and knee airbags; tire pressure monitoring and blind spot detection.

I had no issues with the capable 8-inch infotainment system, which offered navigation plus compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, in addition to AM/FM/satellite radio/CD options for entertainment. One helpful feature is the multiple views the camera offers.

An Infinity premium audio with surround sound is offered, plus Hyundai’s Blue Link connected services.


MPG
Official fuel mileage numbers on the AWD version of the Santa Fe Sport are 19 city/24 highway/21 combined … I averaged 22.4 mpg.
This is a weak point for the Santa Fe Sport, which trails behind competitors in overall fuel mileage.


PRICE
The Santa Fe Sport I tested was priced near the max, coming in over $39,000; Those opting for the base version can take one home for close to $22K … so there is a wide range and this can be either a very affordable vehicle or a pricey one depending how you spec it.

On the plus side you do get a 5-year, 60K new vehicle warranty; a 100K, 10-year powertrain warranty and a 5-year unlimited mile roadside assistance.

BOTTOM LINE

In the always competitive midsize SUV category, Hyundai continues to be a top contender with their high-quality Santa Fe three-row option and Santa Fe Sport two-row options. If you’re a fan of the two-row variety and want to skip the third row, the Santa Fe Sport is up with the best in class, and starts out at an impressively low price.

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AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Last modified on Tuesday, 26 June 2018 08:07
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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com

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