• Chiseled exterior
  • Two efficient four-cylinder engines
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Stiff competition
  • High base price
  • Selectable steering effort doesn't work well

By Automobile Magazine

What's New for Santa Fe Sport in 2014

HID headlights, LED taillights, and a ventilated driver's seat are added to the Technology package for the 2.0T trim level. Blind-spot monitoring is now part of the Premium package...more

Vehicle Summary

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, the short-wheelbase Santa Fe, is a darn good crossover. It can be fitted with one of two economical engines, it's nice to look at, and it's light and agile. The problem with the smaller Santa Fe is a problem that most Hyundai cars have -- it's not as established as its competition. Now, you might be going, "The Santa Fe has been around since 2000, and Hyundai has sold over a million examples…not established?" Fair enough, but the Santa Fe vehicles of yesteryear toed between two markets. Now there are two distinct models for buyers to choose from, and the Santa Fe Sport has to worm its way into buyers' minds and nuzzle up to trusted names like Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4. Trust us -- it's good enough to be there.

Overview

This is the Santa Fe that Hyundai should've been building all along. We really like the long-wheelbase Santa Fe (which probably should've been named Veracruz to avoid confusion, but that name doesn't resonate as well as Santa Fe does), but this Sport model really is the continuation of the last Santa Fe, just in a lighter, more attractive package -- and with a Sport badge on the back.

The Santa Fe Sport sits between a compact and a mid-size crossover in size and in price. It costs a few thousand dollars more than most compact crossovers but is a good bit cheaper than a mid-size crossover like the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It also has more base horsepower than any compact crossover and beats most in fuel economy. The base trim level gets a 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine, and the 2.0T trim level gets, if you couldn't guess, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Both powertrains are mated to six-speed automatic transmissions, and both trims can be optioned with all-wheel drive. The Santa Fe is powerful but doesn't drive better than, say, the Mazda CX-5. What really sells this car is its styling.

The exterior is striking and mature. There are a few too many glitzy touches, like the gaping chrome grille, but we can forgive them because the crossover is so pronounced. Same thing goes for the interior. It's very well appointed and feels rich, with just about every surface being soft to the touch.

The Santa Fe Sport is Hyundai's first real five-passenger crossover, and it's good.

Key Competitors

  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Ford Escape
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Toyota RAV4

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