Offering excellent performance, convincingly good looks and plenty of utility for small families, Hyundai’s 2016 Santa Fe Sport is a compelling crossover SUV that stands out in a strong and ever-growing segment.

Pricing and Equipment

The 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is powered by one of two engines -- a 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder -- both paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. It's available in front- or all-wheel drive configurations.

The base front-wheel drive Santa Fe Sport with the 2.4-liter engine starts at $24,950.00; add $1,750 for all-wheel drive. Rather than having multiple trim levels Hyundai offers option packages. The three option packages for the Sport model are the $1,350 Popular Equipment Package, the $3,300 Premium Package and the $3,500 Tech Package.

The front-wheel drive Santa Fe Sport 2.0T adds the turbocharged engine and starts at $31,250.00; add $1,750 for all-wheel drive. It's also available with a comprehensive $4,350 Ultimate Package.

Prices do not include an $895 freight charge.

Performance Pros

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

The base 2.4-liter engine produces 190-horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy for front-wheel drive Sport vehicles equates to an excellent 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. All-wheel drive models achieve 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

With Hyundai’s 2-liter turbocharged direct inline four-cylinder engine under the hood, the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport that I spent a week with produced 264 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. Peak horsepower is near the top of the engine's rev limit at 6,000 rpm, but the torque band is wide. Falling right in the sweet spot for day-to-day passing and traffic weaving maneuvers, the 2-liter turbo provides full torque from 1,750 to 3,000 rpm.

While the rollover factor of any SUV is going to inhibit the vehicles track-worthy status, the Santa Fe Sport does an excellent job of providing enthusiast-approved driving dynamics. The steering wheel has a button that allows the driver to select from three steering modes that range from comfort to sport. While the changes are not incredibly dynamic, increased responsiveness is detectable as you progress through the range.

Fuel economy isn't its strongest suit, but the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T's 27 mpg highway and 19 mpg city are admirable considering the performance numbers and the fact that you can use regular gas. Given the price differential between regular and premium, Hyundai’s choice to tune the turbocharged engine for regular fuel should be praised and considered in mpg-versus-cost analysis for consumers.

All-wheel drive Sport 2.0T models are rated at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.

Performance Cons

  • While the configurable steering options are quite nifty, the steering feel of the Santa Fe Sport is rather numb. Enthusiasts will simply want a button that reads “more feedback.”
  • Gas mileage decreases significantly with the all-wheel drive trim levels.

Interior Pros

Hyundai santa fe sport
  • While the Santa Fe Sport competes in a mainstream segment, its interior fit and finish -- especially in higher trim levels -- is on par with many of the luxury-brand crossovers.
  • The Sport has a slightly shorter wheelbase than Hyundai’s standard Santa Fe. While the diminished footprint may limit seating to five, the size reduction does not equate to cramped quarters. The front seats are roomy and comfortable. The rear seat actually fits three adults, something that you can’t simply count on based on the number of seat belts anymore.
  • Rear storage space in the “little” Santa Fe is surprising ample. I was able to drive my folks and two of their friends to the cruise boat terminal with the back cargo area loaded with enough luggage for a seven-day voyage and still had plenty of room to spare.

Interior Cons

The optional second-row seat can be a bit tricky to operate.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The turbocharged Santa Fe Sport is an absolute blast to drive. While I’ve come to expect a lot from Hyundai over the past few years, the brand continues to surprise me. Rolling along in second gear and mashing the throttle results in a satisfying bolt of acceleration that throws you back in your seat and elicits a little wheel spin.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

While the all-wheel drive system is certainly helpful in bad weather, its significant loss in fuel economy might have you second guessing if you really need it.

The Bottom Line

Hyundai santa fe sport

A week with the Santa Fe Sport confirmed the family-friendly status of Hyundai’s crossover. My wife loved the styling, luxury, and tech package. A significant family road trip proved that my kids could spread out in the back seat and relax without a single "Are we there yet?" drifting to the front seats. I don't remember a time when a manufacturer picked up a vehicle that conjured quite the sense of loss that my family showed when the Hyundai drove off, which is saying quite a bit considering the vehicles that I have been able to review.

With attractive styling. affordable pricing, decent fuel economy, and a nicely optioned, comfortable interior, the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is an attractive buy. If you’re in the market for an SUV that offers plenty of utility but don’t need third-row seating, I recommend adding the Santa Fe Sport to your list of potential vehicles.