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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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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