Monday, December 11, 2017

IN THE DRIVEWAY: 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

When the Hyundai Santa Fe was launched more than a decade ago, it was Hyundai’s first and only sport-utility vehicle. Now in its third iteration, the Santa Fe is taking on dual roles. As the Santa Fe Sport, it takes on other crossover vehicles like the Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape and Honda CR-V – and does a very good job. But if a third-row seat and a little more room is needed, the larger Santa Fe is available.

This week I find myself in an 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate and just like I have been with most Hyundais lately, I'm impressed.

The five-passenger Sport version of the Santa Fe features a nice, chiseled body that follows Hyundai’s "storm edge" styling, an evolution of the fluidic sculpture philosophy seen on the Sonata and the Elantra. The front-end styling adopts signature Hyundai's hexagonal grille.

Inside the Santa Fe Sport is an interior that is spacious and very comfortable - and even luxurious. It comes nicely equipped with heated front seats, power driver's seat, push-button start, rearview camera and blind-spot detection system. The Ultimate trim level really takes it up a notch by adding in features like a sunroof, Infinity sound system, dual climate control, heated back seats, heated steering wheel, a smart power lift gate - even rear side window sun shades. Occupants sit in a very upright position, making them feel high above the road – one of the main reasons why people like SUVs. The Sport can handle 35.4 cubic feet of cargo behind the seats. Fold the seats down flat and that number jumps to 71.5 – right in line with the CR-V and RAV4.

The base engine in the Sport a is 2.4 liter four-cylinder that makes 185 hp. Opt for the 2.0T trim level and the Sport is fitted with a 2.0  liter turbocharged four that increases output to 240 hp. Fuel economy drops ever-so-slightly, but the extra power is worth it. Both motors use a six-speed automatic transmission and the Sport can be had in either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

So far, my time with the Santa Fe Sport has been positive. No complaints with the 2.0 turbo engine as it delivers plenty of smooth power - even quite comparable to a V6. The Sport's smaller footprint makes it perfect for driving to work or running errands.

Competing against the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, the Hyundai Santa Fe sport is in with some mighty tough competition. But like all Hyundais, the Sport is an excellent value and with it's outstanding warranty, makes it very worthy competitor.

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