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2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Test Drive Review

In today’s automotive landscape, there is no shortage of crossovers with offerings that range from budget-priced subcompacts up to luxury-minded models, and that is especially true for Hyundai with three stellar crossovers including the refreshed 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.

On the heels of the completely redesigned 2016 Hyundai Tucson, Hyundai revealed its updated Santa Fe lineup earlier this year at the Chicago Auto Show. Starting with the current third-gen model, the Santa Fe line was split into two vehicles with the Santa Fe replacing the Veracruz as the larger, long-wheelbase three-row crossover and the Santa Fe Sport replacing the previous Santa Fe model as the five-passenger midsize crossover to compete against the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Edge and Nissan Murano.

Hyundai’s three-crossover approach is definitely working as it has doubled the sales of the Tucson so far this year and the Santa Fe nameplate is still the third-best-selling model in the brand’s portfolio. The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is positioned as the middle child of Hyundai’s crossover lineup, and I was recently able to drive for a week decked out in the top-of-the-line 2.0T Ultimate trim level.

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2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Exterior:
Even after three years on the market, the Santa Fe Sport remained an attractive crossover, but the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport adds just enough styling to look fresh against much newer rivals. The face of the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport still features Hyundai’s signature six-sided grille, and now it features restyled headlights and a sportier front fascia with available LED daytime running lights. Giving the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport a more rugged profile is new rocker panel trim with silver accents, and the rear of the updated crossover is finished with new taillights and a lower fascia that now houses dual trapezoidal exhaust outlets. The only other changes made to the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport are three new available wheel designs – including the dark 19-inch alloy wheels on this tester – and the Nightfall Blue, which is also displayed on this test vehicle. Overall, Hyundai has managed to keep the styling of the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport fresh and up to date with minimal effort, and it fits well with the existing lines and proportions.

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2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Interior:
While the exterior of the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport focuses on style, the interior brings the crossover up to date with all of the latest tech goodies. On this fully loaded 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate, the interior adds a new eight-inch touch screen display for the standard navigation and infotainment system as well as the Infinity Premium Audio with QuantumLogic Surround Sound and Clari-Fi Music Restoration Technology, HD Radio and Android Auto. This is on top of equipment that the trim level already offered such as the panoramic sunroof, leather seats, eight-way power driver’s seat with memory functions, heated and cooled front seats, heated outboard rear seats and heated steering wheel. All in, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate looks and feels more like a pure-bred luxury vehicle rather than an optioned up crossover.

Hyundai also focuses on the details when it comes to passenger comfort in the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. This model came with rear seats that not only reclined but also slid fore and aft, and there were release levers in the cargo area so that the seats could be folded quickly and easily when loading gear. Speaking of the cargo area, there is 35.4 cubic feet of space available behind the rear seat and up to 71.5 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded, and if that’s not enough, there is also some added storage space hidden beneath the rear cargo floor.

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2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Performance:
For the most part, the powertrain options of the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport carry over unchanged. The base engine is still the direct-injected 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, but if you want a crossover that drives as well as it looks, then you should definitely pay the extra money for the 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct injected inline-four with 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. This engine has far better acceleration than the base engine yet suffers very little when it comes to fuel economy, and the 2017 model year brings mpg improvements for all trim levels. On paper, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate has EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway**, which compared to the Santa Fe Sport 2.4 is 1 mpg less in the city and the same mpg on the highway. Both engines are paired to a six-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission, and both are available with a front- or all-wheel drive layout

In terms of ride quality, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport doesn’t live up to its “Sport” name, but it shouldn’t be expected to either. On the road, the Santa Fe Sport offers an extremely smooth ride with a surprisingly quiet interior. One thing I noticed about driving the Santa Fe Sport is that the electric power steering felt a little too effortless, but dropping the Drive Mode Select into Sport mode makes the steering feel a little less digitized; Drive Mode Select features Normal, Eco and Sport modes that modify the steering and acceleration to fit the particular conditions chosen by the driver.

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2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Safety:
The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport adds a host of new safety technology including a standard backup camera and optional features such as Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start function, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Multi-View Camera System and Dynamic Bending Lights and High Beam Assist. As such, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport received a five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and, when properly equipped, a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Overall:
Starting at $25,350*, the mid-size 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is priced comparably to some compact crossovers, but stepping up to the 2.0T Ultimate FWD raises the base price to $36,500*. Adding the Ultimate Tech Package (with the advanced driver assistance safety technologies) and the required destination charge, this 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport had an as-tested price of $39,070. That price may be a hard pill to swallow for some buyers shopping in the mainstream crossover market, but the money spent is well worth it in terms of content.

Perhaps the only thing that has hampered the Santa Fe Sport has been the production capacity at Kia’s West Point, Georgia assembly plant, so in addition to this line, Hyundai has added another line for the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport at the Montgomery, Alabama plant. Between that and the physical improvements made, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is now an even better option in the mid-size crossover market.

Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Hyundai dealership and test drive the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport today!

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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