Since the introduction of the first Hyundai Santa Fe in 2003, there has been incredible change and growth at Hyundai. Over the past 11 years, the Santa Fe has developed from a boxy, obscure addition to a crossover with a strong identity. It has a character all its own. There is competition in all vehicle segments nowadays, but a crossover with an identity can be hard to come by. With a steady increase in popularity, manufacturers have realized devoting more resources towards product development in this line of vehicle is a necessity. Hyundai has gotten this progression right.
Frost White Pearl may be the best color you can get on the Santa Fe Sport. With the Sport 2.0T, you also get the 19-inch wheels and the towing package. The new body has come a long way from the rounded original and the blander second-generation it replaces. With much sharper lines and a front end that aligns with the brand’s new look, the Santa Fe is now one of our favorite looking crossovers. The rear spoiler adds to its appeal and, surprisingly enough, comes standard on both trim levels. The LED light accents look great up close and from a distance. Unlike most manufactures, the LED accent lights don’t act as daytime running lights and, therefore, only come on with the headlamps. The Santa Fe Sport differs itself from the “regular” Santa Fe by being the smaller of the two. The five-passenger Sport is 8.5 inches shorter than it’s big brother and isn’t available with the Santa Fe’s V6.
Being as Sport is in its name, we would have expected a sportier steering wheel. As we found in the new Genesis, the Santa Fe Sport’s wheel lacks grip while driving. The Santa Fe Sport’s interior is spacious for a mid-size crossover, with plenty of room for 4 adult passengers. The rear seats slide forward or backwards to accommodate for a person’s height or extra cargo. There’s even more room for odds and ends in the hidden cargo-area storage compartment where you would expect a spare tire. Our tester came equipped with the Navigation Package, which replaces the 4.3-inch touchscreen with a larger 8-inch touchscreen, and an upgraded Infinity Logic Surround Sound audio system with 12 speakers. As with all other Hyundai models we’ve tested, the infotainment system is simple and easy to use and the rearview camera is one of the sharpest in the business.
The turbocharged 2.0 liter inline four cylinder offers plenty of power. It’s the same unit used in the Hyundai Genesis Coupe we drove up Mt. Washington. With 264 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque, it’s going to satisfy most consumers that get behind the wheel. The Santa Fe Sport outperforms its competition, including the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Chevrolet Equinox. However, there is a significant delay before the turbo engages during hard acceleration. After a week’s time, we averaged a combined 22 mpg. It’s on target with its EPA estimate, but it isn’t industry-leading. It might not be the most athletic of SUVs, but it does handle the city bumps quite well. The all-wheel-drive system would improve grip as the front wheel drive feels rather loose through corners. In our region, AWD is practically required for year-round use.
Hyundai has established a solid case for consumers to consider the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. As a fan of the crossover segment, there’s plenty of things to like about this car – from the sleek, sporty styling and powerful turbocharged engine to the excellently appointed interior. The Santa Fe Sport has matured since 2003. They’ve come a long way but still has a little room for improvement. Hyundai will continue to develop new technologies to make it even better.
|2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport FWD 2.0T
|Carpeted Floor Mats||$110|
|As Tested MSRP||$33,385|