Auto review

Hyundai's 2018 Santa Fe Sport is a fun ride in the crowded SUV category

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is similar to the 2017, but it is still a fun ride. Matt Perrault

Every manufacture selling vehicles in this country is turning out crossover and performance SUV’s as fast they can as the American buying public demands car handling with an SUV’s size and capability. After Hyundai redesigned the 2017 Sante Fe and Sante Fe Sport, their newest Sport model isn’t dramatically different but continues to produce an enjoyable experience behind the wheel.

Vehicle Summary

I reviewed the Sport model with a 2.0-liter turbo engine, ultimate package featuring all-wheel drive. This is the top of the line model for Hyundai and included the Tech Package that provided some high-end safety features like Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start and Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection. These safety features are really becoming useful (and standard on many models in the class) and you can quickly become attached to the security they provide while driving on busy highways and crowded city streets.

The Sport is a two-row SUV, unlike the larger Sante Fe which now features a third row. As a father of just one rambunctious 3-year old, my family doesn’t need the extra space and I never felt like I was missing anything with this smaller version. I actually prefer the smaller crossover SUVs because often they provide more performance and handling and this AWD model fit the bill.

This 5-star safety rated vehicle tries hard to convince the consumer to stay away from the extremely popular models in this category produced by competitors like Honda, Nissan and Toyota. The 2018 Sante Fe Sport is a very nice option for a small family like mine.  

Engine

For a 4-cylinder, there is a lot of power under the hood with the Sport’s 240 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo, gasoline direct injection engine. The 6-speed automatic transmission is smooth but I have never liked Hyundai’s ECO mode. I nearly always put the vehicle into Sport mode and I find the ride to be much more enjoyable. Sport Mode opens up the engine to perform up to its ability and gives more confidence on the highway. You will lose some gas mileage by driving in this mode obviously. However, Hyundai lists the Sport at 24 miles per gallon on the highway but I did better than that even in Sport Mode.

Exterior 

As you can see in the picture above, this is a really good-looking vehicle. The model I drove was “Marlin Blue” but there are some other very attractive colors offered for the 2018 as well. Mark me down as a massive fan of the panoramic sunroof and my daughter was a well. Hyundai has done really good job with the lines of this vehicle. I really like the standard features on this model that include a Hands-Free Smart Liftgate with Auto Open that was very easy to operate and keyless entry that can unlock all for 4-doors.

Interior 

This is where the Sport really shines for what I like to see from SUV’s in this class. Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard within an 8-inch touch screen that is really easy to navigate. The rearview display is huge with multi-view camera angles that makes parking a snap.  Hyundai’s Blue Link provides untethered connectivity to a variety of features and doesn’t lose any sound quality when pushing audio to the QuantumLogic Surround Sound and Infinity Premium Auto speakers.

Heated leather seats are great but what attracted me were the Ventilated Seats which provides extra comfort in the hot climates like Houston. The Sport’s rear vents were incredibly important to my wife and kept everyone riding with us comfortable. Some have found the Sport’s front seats to be uncomfortable but they didn’t bother me. The 2nd row is roomy with lots of head room. The vehicle can easily fit five adults but the back-seat space is great if you have a car seat like we do. There is a lot of cargo space in the back and cargo cover is a nice optional feature if you don’t want to show the world what you are transporting around with you.

One drawback was where Hyundai places the Drive Mode button. In other Hyundais and Kias, the button is by the gear shift but this model placed the button on the left-hand side in a row with other options like the Lane Departure Warning. In order to find the button, you have to take your eyes of the road for a little longer than I felt comfortable. The button would be better on the right side of the driver.

Performance

The 2018 Sport’s Active Cornering Control flexes the All-Wheel Drive capability of this SUV. The wheel has all the controls you would want with the ability to control your entertainment and cruise control without looking down.

Value

The sticker price on this model was $40,160 but you can get the Sport without the ULT package and All-Wheel Drive that will drop cost down a considerable amount. Hyundai still offers the outstanding warranty of 10-year/100,000 miles on the powertrain and 5-year/unlimited mile roadside assistance.

The 2018 Hyundai Sante Fe Sport has a lot to like and not a ton of drawbacks for this year’s model.  

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Houston scored in droves

Astros drub Twins in finale to take series win

Houston's offense showered Minnesota with hits in Sunday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games, with Houston's offense uncharacteristically ineffective in the loss on Saturday, they tried to turn things around with a win to take the series on Sunday. The Astros would bounce right back at the plate, getting hits and runs all through the afternoon to rout the Twins.

Final Score: Astros 14, Twins 3

Astros' Record: 37-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (3-0)

Losing Pitcher: Michael Pineda (3-4)

Valdez keeps rolling

Framber Valdez continued to impress in 2021 after starting his season on the IL, posting another quality start with a win against the Twins. After four scoreless frames, he allowed a solo homer to start the bottom of the fifth, just the third hit of the game for Minnesota to that point. He went on to retire the next three batters to get through the inning.

He faltered a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff double followed by a single, with a run coming across on an error on that play. He once again rebounded to finish that frame, then put up a 1-2-3 seventh to finish his day off, notching another quality start and a win. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 97 P.

Houston keeps their foot on the gas

While Valdez's outing was a highlight of its own, Houston's offense was the story of the day. They put their foot down on the pedal all day and did not let up, starting in the top of the first when Jose Altuve turned the first pitch of the game around for a single, later scoring on a sac fly by Alex Bregman to put the Astros in front 1-0.

After two scoreless innings, they got right back on the scoreboard in the fourth with a two-run homer by Kyle Tucker, then kept pouring it on with two runs in the fifth on a sac fly by Yuli Gurriel and an error, making it 5-0 at the time. The runs kept coming in the top of the sixth, with a two-RBI double by Michael Brantley, who would score later on a two-run bomb by Yordan Alvarez. Then, in the top of the seventh, Brantley struck again to push it to double-digits with a two-RBI single to make it 11-2 and give Brantley 4 RBI on the afternoon.

With Houston swapping out starters with the hefty lead, even their pinch-hitters were getting involved, with Chas McCormick leading the top of the eighth off with a solo shot to make it a ten-run game. They then loaded the bases with no outs, setting up a sac fly for Myles Straw to make it 13-2.

Astros take the series

In the bottom of the eighth, Ralph Garza Jr. came in as the first reliever out of the bullpen for Houston. He recorded two quick outs but then met Nelson Cruz, who lasered a solo homer to put it back at a ten-run game before finishing the frame. Houston put their twentieth hit on the board in the top of the ninth, their highest total this season, en route to another scoring inning with a sac fly by Robel Garcia to make it 14-3. Garza came in for his second inning of work to wrap things up in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Astros a successful end to this series and road trip.

Up Next: Houston will travel home before an off day on Monday to rest before 20 days of consecutive games. They'll kick off a six-game homestand on Tuesday, welcoming in the Rangers for two starting at 7:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (3-1, 2.96 ERA) will make his return from the IL for the Astros, though Jake Odorizzi will "piggy-back" him, and Kyle Gibson (4-0, 2.13 ERA) will take the mound for Texas.

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