Hyundai has put the word Sport squarely in their Santa Fe small crossover SUV nomenclature and it’s more than just a badge on the rear lift gate. The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is high on the fun to drive meter, plain and simple.
This is partly because Hyundai provides an optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine for the Santa Fe that creates the sporty driving dynamics of a V6. And this week we drove the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD with a turbo four cylinder under the hood.
For 2015, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport adds a few standard features including: daytime running lights, a two-tone grille, driver’s blind spot mirror and a hands-free power liftgate. The steering system has been revised for a more precise feel, which was a plus in our book.
The driver-selectable steering modes (DSSM) we found quite practical, especially as we got into the mountains.
Features & Options
The 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T ($33,000) comes standard with an eight-way power driver seat with four-way adjustable lumbar. Both front seats are heated along with the outside mirrors.
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, front fog lights, chrome twin-tip exhaust, roof side rails, proximity key entry with push button start, automatic headlight control, an electroluminescent gauge cluster and a trailer prep package add further dimension to the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe.
Also included are leather seating surfaces, power front passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a windshield wiper de-icer, blind-spot detection, and a rearview camera.
The 2.0T trim level comes with a more powerful turbocharged engine and the hands-free power liftgate.
Optional on Sport AWD 2.0T models is the Ultimate Package ($4,350) which adds rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, metal door sill plates, a heated steering wheel, driver memory settings, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen.
And if that isn’t enough, there is a 12-speaker Infinity surround sound audio system to play your favorite tunes as you drive.
It also includes 19-inch wheels, HID headlights and LED taillights.
Total MSRP of this Santa Fe Sport tester, including destination: $38,350.
Exterior & Interior Features
On the outside, The Hyundai Santa Fe deserves special mention. This small SUV has good looks that set it apart from most of the other small SUV crossovers.
Styling follows Hyundai’s recent fluid sculpture design direction, but with the stylish exterior comes less than stellar visibility from the driver’s seat because of the narrow rear side windows.
That was one of the main downfalls, however, the styling does make for a modern and well arranged cabin. There’s plenty of soft-touch materials throughout and the beige color scheme in this tester was eye catching.
There’s plenty of luxury without the optional Ultimate Package with comfortable heated leather seats that we put to good use during an early spring cold snap in the Colorado Rockies.
In the back, families will like the reclining seat backs and there’s plenty of head and leg room for adults.
Cargo capacity is abundant and Santa Fe Sport boasts a healthy 35.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats. With the seats folded flat, cargo carrying ability reaches a generous 71.5 cubes, putting it right up there with class leading competitors like Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
This Hyundai Santa Fe Sport was powered by the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder that produces 264 horsepower and 269 lb ft of torque.
It comes mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic and powers all four wheels through an optional, active on demand all-wheel-drive system.
EPA estimated fuel mileage with AWD are: 18/24 city/highway mpg and 21 mpg combined.
The advantages of the optional 2.0-liter turbo gas engine are obvious in Colorado’s rarified air. The turbo pushed more air into the combustion chamber for the added power we needed at that altitude.
We cruised the small SUV up I-70 and passed slower vehicles heading into the mountains to go skiing.
Even flat landers will appreciate the extra power over Santa Fe’s standard naturally aspirated four cylinder. We would recommend the 2.0T because feels more like a larger V6.
Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T is pleasant to drive in all situations.
On the road it has a smooth comfortable ride that isn’t too harsh on dirt roads. The suspension is nimble enough for city commutes and the Driver Selectable Steering Modes allow three settings: Normal, Sport and Comfort depending on how much the driver wants to be engaged.
The steering wheel control adds 10 percent effort (vs. Normal) in Sport mode and subtracts 10 percent in Comfort mode for low-speed maneuvering.
The Santa Fe’s AWD system, while transparent to the driver, kept all four wheels firmly planted even during more spirited driving in the mountain curves this week.
Overall, with the 2.0-liter turbo power plant, the dynamics of this small SUV were satisfying and it was an experience higher on the fun to drive meter than most in this segment.
Hyundai continues to make great strides in styling, quality and overall enjoyment in their vehicles.
The Santa Fe Sport powered by the 2.0-liter turbo has the driving dynamics of a V6 power plant. The cabin is a comfortable place to spend time and families will like the utility and cargo carrying ability.
The 2015 Santa Fe Sport is fully competitive in this segment and worthy of consideration.