The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport lives up to the name, at least the “Sport” part anyhow. It’s a big player in the crossover-SUV crowd, thanks mostly to its value and feature-set that the other marquees haven’t yet matched.
To its credit, the Santa Fe Sport offers one of the most powerful engines in the segment, loads of standard equipment, plus such high-end options as ventilated front seats, Infinity audio and a panoramic moonroof.
The Santa Fe Sport is aptly powered by a two-liter, four–cylinder turbo that pushes its 240 horses and 260 lb-ft of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission. Two-wheel drive comes standard, but all-wheel drive is available in any of the four trims.
Now don’t let the trims fool you: the “Sport” in Santa Fe Sport hints more at its relative size when compared with the larger, three-row Santa Fe than at any innate sportiness. The 2018 Santa Fe Sport crossover SUV proves that you don’t have to sacrifice user friendliness to have a contemporary interior design. All the controls inside are easy to reach and understand, and everything is constructed with care and high-quality materials. It’s also practical, with stain-resistant Yes Essentials fabric or available leather, and a rear bench seat that folds in a 40/20/40 split and is also available with 5.2 inches of fore-and-aft travel and a recline function as part of an option package. Behind the seats is a good-sized cargo space, making the Santa Fe Sport exceptionally flexible.
The Sport trim’s comfortable ride pairs with energetic handling for respectable on-road performance.
The Santa Fe Sport delivers middling fuel economy, but its ample cargo hold makes up for some of that lost advantage and turns this compact version of the Santa Fe into a city-friendly ride.
The Santa Fe Sport’s ride is firm but not harsh, remaining smooth so long as the surface it travels is as well. Handling is also good, but the Santa Fe Sport’s steering feel isn’t as precise as I have had in other like-categorized models. Standard Drive Mode Select alters power steering and throttle response for Normal, Eco and Sport settings, while I would prefer the all-wheel-drive-equipped models that have the advantage of improved handling in both wet and dry conditions.
My favorite tech toy item on the 2018 Santa Fe Sport 2.0T was the rear liftgate. Where some power liftgates require pressing a button on a fob or furiously waving one’s foot below the bumper, the 2018 Santa Fe Sport’s power liftgate opens upon approach when sensing the proximity of the remote fob in your pocket.
The Manufactures Suggested Retail Price of the unit I drove was $35,650. The addition of a $1900 value package that was added included a power-operated driver’s seat with lumbar support, auto-up for the front windows (power windows with an auto-down function are standard), LED daytime running lights, fog lights, and roof rails, bringing my test ride’s total price to $38,325.