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