Auto review

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

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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Allen had high praise for Diggs. Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images.

Impersonal as it might seem to have their dynamic on-field relationship end with an exchange of phone texts, Bills quarterback Josh Allen made it clear on Thursday how much receiver Stefon Diggs meant to him during their four seasons together in Buffalo.

Allen made no mention of Diggs’ mercurial temperament or the occasional sideline flare-ups by expressing only praise in his first opportunity to discuss his now-former teammate being traded to the Houston Texans earlier this month.

“Just thanking him for everything that he did for me, and (I’ll) always have a spot in my heart for him. I’ll always love that guy like a brother. And I wish him nothing but the best,” Allen said, in disclosing what he texted to Diggs. “My lasting memory of Stef will be the receiver that helped me become the quarterback that I am today.”

Brought together in March 2020, when Buffalo gave up a first-round draft pick to acquire Diggs in a trade with Minnesota, the duo went on to re-write many of Buffalo's single-season passing and scoring records, and lead the team to four straight AFC East titles.

Diggs, now 30, also brought an inescapable sense of drama with him in raising questions about his commitment to the Bills and whether his tight relationship with Allen had soured.

A day before being traded, Diggs posted a message, “You sure?” on the social media platform X in response to someone suggesting he wasn’t essential to Allen’s success.

Whatever hard feelings, if any, lingered as Buffalo opened its voluntary workout sessions this week were not apparent from Allen or coach Sean McDermott, who also addressed reporters for the first time since Diggs was traded.

“Stef’s a great player, really enjoyed our time together. Won a lot of games and he was a huge factor in winning those games. We’ll miss him,” McDermott said. “You never replace a player like Stef Diggs, and we wish him well.”

Allen turned his focus to the future and a Bills team that spent much of the offseason retooling an aging and expensive roster.

Aside from trading Diggs, salary cap restrictions led to Buffalo cutting respected center Mitch Morse, the breakup of a veteran secondary that had been together since 2017, and the team unable to afford re-signing No. 2 receiver Gabe Davis.

“I don’t think it’s a wrong thing or a bad thing to get younger,” said Allen, entering his seventh NFL season. “I think it’s an opportunity for myself to grow as a leader. And to bring along some of these young guys and new guys that we’ve brought in to our team. And that’s an opportunity, frankly, that I’m very excited about."

Despite the departures, the Bills offense is not exactly lacking even though general manager Brandon Beane is expected to target selecting a receiver with his first pick — currently 28th overall — in the draft next week.

Receiver Khalil Shakir enters his third year and tight end Dalton Kincaid enter his second following promising seasons. Buffalo also added veteran experience in signing free agent receiver Curtis Samuel and Mack Hollins.

While Beane acknowledged the Bills lack a true No. 1 receiver, he noted there’s less urgency to fill that spot now than in 2020 because of how much the offense has developed under Allen.

“Now that Josh has ascended to the player he is, is that a requirement? I don’t think so,” Beane said.

Diggs’ role also began diminishing in the second half of last season, which coincided with Joe Brady replacing Ken Dorsey as offensive coordinator. Brady placed an emphasis on adding balance to a pass-heavy attack and getting more receivers involved, which led to an uptick in production for Shakir and Kincaid.

While Diggs’ numbers dropped, Buffalo’s win total increased.

With the Bills at 6-6, Diggs ranked third in the NFL with 83 catches, seventh with 969 yards and tied for third with eight TDs receiving. Buffalo then closed the season with five straight wins in which Diggs combined for 24 catches for 214 yards and no scores.

”(Diggs) meant a lot. You look at the statistics, they don’t lie,” Allen said, in referring to Diggs topping 100 catches and 1,000 yards in each of his four seasons in Buffalo. “I don’t get paid to make changes on the team. I get paid to be the best quarterback that I can be and try to lead the guys on this team.”

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