SEATTLE, January 2, 2018: In a rather ironic branding move, Hyundai has named the new Santa Fe Sport 2.0T with the lower engine displacement and power output. While there’s no doubt it’s kind of sporty, however, the naming is still a bit confusing. Their reasoning is that this slightly smaller version having only a second row as opposed to a third row is a bit more “sporty”.
Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Turbocharged
Unlike the Santa Fe SE, which has a 3.6 liter V6 with 290hp and 252 lb-ft of torque, the Sport 2.0T features a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that’s good for 240 horsepower with 260 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a quick-responding 6 speed transmission and powers either a front-wheel drive or the optional all-wheel drive system. Sure it’s snappy off the line but still feels a bit underpowered when moving this heavy vehicle – curb weight is 3794 pounds.
My primary issue with smaller engines that are turbocharged is that you nearly always have your “foot in it” to develop the power needed to get off the line, get out of the way or pass someone. This means, that you’ll see the lower end of the fuel economy spectrum and the EPA rates the Sport 2.0T at 20 around town and 26 on the highway or a combined average of 22 miles per gallon.
Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Interior
If you haven’t looked at a Hyundai in awhile, you really should. Their interior build quality has skyrocketed over the past several years and the Santa Fe doesn’t disappoint. Sure there’s some plastic used but it all has a good feel to it and is augmented by the stitched leather seats and handsome wood-grained panels. The main instrument cluster is easy to read and most everything is within easy reach of the driver.
As with most all of the new models from Hyundai, you should opt for the premium infotainment system – it’s easily worth the cost. It sports an Infinity 12-speaker system with a high-powered amplifier that makes all of your music sound stellar. Frankly, it’s still among the best-sounding audio systems available from any automaker at any price. Convincing bass response that you can actually feel with smooth midrange quality and crisp highs with a good center channel speaker for optimum sound imaging.
Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Dashboard
The 8-inch touchscreen is what you get with the tech package and is easy to use, read and navigate through, however, the graphics used in the NAV and main screen icons are starting to look a bit dated. Additionally, we’d love to see future vehicles include the option to setup the car as a hot-spot as so many competitors can do these days.
Despite being a “5-seater”, inside, there is legroom aplenty for four adults. The middle seat isn’t really roomy enough for anyone larger than a 12-year-old. There is also plenty of cargo area for those family shopping trips and even more, if you fold the rear seats down. It jumps from 35.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up, to a whopping 71.5 cubic feet with them down. Say hello to “plenty of Costco-sized toilet paper packs!
Hyundai prices this rig to start at $31,350 for the front-wheel drive and $32,900 if you want all-wheel drive. At that price point, it’s a very competitive offering and comes with a 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty as well as an excellent safety rating.
Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Six Speed Transmission
Driving the Sport 2.0T is a mixed bag as it is peppy when you punch it to the floor and the six-speed transmission does a rather good job of working its way through each gear. One issue, however, is that the vehicle’s braking always fells like it took longer than it should whenever you had to stop in a hurry.
Handling is on-point as the MacPhereson strut system provides or minimal body roll and a good sense of ride comfort.
It’s hard to find much fault in the 2018 Hyundai Sport 2.0T as it does an excellent job of delivering some good value in today’s crowded crossover SUV market. It would come as a rather easy recommendation to anyone looking for a modestly priced crossover – you really should setup a test drive if you’re in the market for a 5-seater crossover.