Hyundai has three crossover SUVs in its lineup: smallest Tucson, compact Santa Fe Sport, and bigger three-row Santa Fe. Both Santa Fe models have been substantially freshened for 2017, gaining a new front-end appearance that includes a fresh fascia and headlights, along with new taillights. About one-fourth of the Sport’s components have been revised. The Santa Fe Sport comes in Base, 2.0T, and 2.0T Ultimate models, the latter two containing a turbocharged engine.

Pricing and Equipment

Starting at $25,350 (plus destination charge), the Santa Fe comes with a choice of powertrains. Base engine is a direct-injected, 2.4-liter four-cylinder, producing 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. The alternative turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder engine develops 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet. Both work with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel economy differs little between the two. With front-drive, the 2.4-liter is EPA-estimated at 21/27 mpg city/highway. The turbo four gets an EPA estimate of 20/28 mpg city/highway (20/27 in Ultimate trim).

Standard equipment in the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T, with a Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $31,700, includes:

  • Turbocharged 2-liter engine
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • Leather seating surfaces
  • Heated power front seats
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Hands-free power liftgate
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist
  • Blue Link telematics
  • Seven-inch display audio
  • Eighteen-inch alloy wheels
  • Seven airbags, including driver’s knee airbag

Options include surround-view cameras, lane-keeping assist, forward-collision warning with automatic braking, and adaptive cruise control.

Performance Pros

BMW 640
  • Acceleration scores well with the optional turbocharged 2-liter engine. Able to reach 60 mph in about 7 seconds, the turbo Sport provides greater confidence when passing or merging, and can tow as much as 3,500 pounds.
  • Transmission shift points are logical and effective, yielding smooth operation. Moving the gearshift lever can actuate a manual-shift mode.
  • All-wheel drive available with either engine.

Performance Cons

  • Acceleration with the base 2.4-liter engine is rather weak. It can feel breathless and overtaxed—more so when passengers are aboard.
  • Gas mileage is acceptable, but not the greatest in its class. Some competitors deliver better fuel economy than either Santa Fe Sport version.
  • A Santa Fe Sport drives easily, but steering doesn’t feel quite as sharp as in some competitive vehicles.

Interior Pros

BMW 640 Interior
  • Space is greater than most rivals provide, with good front legroom and knee clearance. Front backrests are well-shaped, with adequately-bolstered cushions on long seat bottoms.
  • A sliding back seat is available, traveling 5.2 inches fore and aft, to better accommodate either passengers or cargo. The cargo hold is sizable.
  • Large, real knobs control fan speed and audio volume. Electro-luminescent instruments are available.

Interior Cons

  • If the panoramic sunroof is installed (standard on Ultimate), head clearance is marginal for taller drivers.
  • Though spacious for a compact, in both front and rear, larger families might need a bit more room.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Seat comfort and space get half of the nod, especially with the sliding rear seat. The other half goes to excellent crash-test scores (five stars in the federal test program), as well as a laudable number of available safety items. Every model has a rearview camera, and 2.0T turbos have several active-safety features.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Considering the weak nature of the base engine, it’s so-so gas-mileage estimate is particularly galling. At least, there’s an easy solution for this demerit: pick the turbo instead, and you get nearly the same gas-mileage estimate.

The Bottom Line

In its latest form, freshened for 2017, the Sport looks sharp—inside as well as outside. Many consider it the best-looking model of Hyundai’s crossover trio. An abundance of standard equipment, plus high-quality materials, makes it a good value even in more costly turbo trim.