2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Review
Pros & Cons
- Spacious, stylish and quiet interior
- lots of features for the money
- lengthy warranty.
- Subpar fuel economy
- poor rearward visibility
- firm ride quality.
Edmunds' Expert Review
With its generous equipment roster, top safety ratings and lengthy warranty, the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a desirable pick among affordable crossover SUVs.
In a departure from industry norms, Hyundai split its Santa Fe crossover SUV into two different models a few years ago. The regular Santa Fe provides consumers with three rows of seating and a standard V6 engine, thereby appealing to larger families, while the smaller Santa Fe Sport takes care of those with no need for a third row and its attendant bulk. With a 4-inch shorter wheelbase than the regular Santa Fe, the 2016 Sport aims for a just-right balance between too big and too small.
Hyundai's 2016 Santa Fe Sport brings to the design table a stylistic edge not nearly as evident in the longer and larger Santa Fe.
Most shoppers will be very satisfied with the Santa Fe Sport's packaging and footprint. In its lower trim levels, the Sport's base price is not too far removed from the pricing of popular small crossovers from Honda (CR-V) and Toyota (RAV4). And yet it's a little bigger than those models, and four adults will find the interior genuinely spacious and well appointed, while a third adult in the rear is within the realm of possibility — something not easily considered with the CR-V or RAV4.
The Santa Fe Sport can be had with one of two engines: a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder producing 190 horsepower or, in the 2.0T, a turbocharged four-cylinder supplying 265 hp. Both engines are available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. For both Sport variants, the list of standard features is long, while option packages allow you to move the Santa Fe Sport (especially in 2.0T guise) into an almost near-luxury specification.
Neither engine choice is particularly efficient, though, which might be of concern for some shoppers. The 2.0T with all-wheel drive, for example, delivers but 21 mpg in the EPA's combined cycle estimate. If you desire more efficiency under the hood, both Ford's Escape and redesigned Edge represent viable alternatives, as does Hyundai's smaller Tucson, which is also redesigned this year. Other top picks worth considering might be the sporty Mazda CX-5 and rugged Jeep Cherokee. But if you're searching for a roomy and well-appointed crossover SUV, the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is definitely worth a look.
2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport models
The 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is available in two trim levels: base and 2.0T.
Standard features for the base model include 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, LED headlight accents, tinted rear windows, heated side mirrors, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.
Optional is the Popular Equipment package, which adds automatic headlights, foglights, roof rack side rails, a windshield wiper de-icer, heated front seats, a 4.3-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system and an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar support).
The Premium package requires the Popular Equipment package and includes keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power front passenger seat, sliding 60/40-split rear seats (with remote folding latches in the cargo area), dual-zone automatic climate control, upgraded gauges, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, manual rear window sunshades and a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.
The Technology package requires the Premium package and adds rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, a hands-free power liftgate, a heated steering wheel, driver memory settings, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, an 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and a 10-speaker Dimension audio system.
The Santa Fe Sport has a clean, contemporary-looking interior. The big 8-inch touchscreen is optional on the base and 2.0T trim levels.
The 2.0T trim level comes with most of the contents of the Popular Equipment and Premium Equipment packages, along with a more powerful turbocharged engine, 18-inch wheels and the hands-free power liftgate. Optional on 2.0T models is the Ultimate package, which includes most of the contents of the Technology package and adds 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED taillights and a 12-speaker Infinity surround-sound audio system.
Performance & mpg
Powering the base 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 190 hp and 181 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. The only available transmission is a six-speed automatic.
The EPA's estimated fuel economy for the 2.4 is 23 mpg combined (20 city/27 highway) with front-wheel drive and 21 mpg combined (19 city/25 highway) with all-wheel drive.
These are below-average results for the small crossover SUV segment.
The Santa Fe Sport 2.0T upgrades to a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 265 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy drops only slightly to 22 mpg combined (20 city/27 highway) with front-wheel drive and 21 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway) with all-wheel drive. Note that the front-wheel-drive 2.0T Ultimate gets a 26 mpg highway rating with its unique 19-inch wheels, though the all-wheel-drive 2.0T Ultimate is unaffected.
In Edmunds performance testing, an all-wheel-drive Santa Fe Sport 2.0T accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, which is a bit slower than is typical for a small crossover with an upgraded engine and AWD. A front-drive 2.0T model we tested was quicker at 7.5 seconds to 60 mph.
Standard safety features for the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag, active front head restraints, a hill-holder feature and hill descent control.
A rearview camera and a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert are optional on the base model and standard on the 2.0T.
Also optional on the base trim and standard on the 2.0T is Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system, which offers roadside assistance, crash response, remote door lock control and electronic parameters for parents with teenage drivers (including speed, geo-fencing and curfew limits).
In government crash testing, the Santa Fe Sport earned a perfect five-star rating overall, with five stars for total frontal-impact safety and five stars for total side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Santa Fe Sport its top score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset crash test but a second-worst "Marginal" score in the small-overlap frontal-offset test. In the side-impact, roof-strength and seat/head restraint design (whiplash protection) tests, the Santa Fe Sport earned a "Good" rating.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Santa Fe Sport 2.0T AWD came to a stop from 60 mph in 127 feet, which is slightly longer than average.
In the typical tasks that go along with daily errands, the Sport stands out most in regards to noise. It's definitely one of the quieter affordably priced crossovers available. We've been less impressed by the Sport's firm ride quality, though. Smaller highway pavement ripples cause a bouncy effect, translating to vibrations entering the cabin, and big bumps can unsettle the vehicle. On smooth roads, though, the Sport fares better, and it feels secure going around turns.
Though it has "Sport" in its name, the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport isn't notably sporty to drive.
Although the 2.0T's timed acceleration to 60 (8.1 seconds) won't win any pink slips, off the drag strip you'll enjoy its relative refinement and abundant torque. And while gearchanges from Hyundai's six-speed automatic can be a little slow at times, its shifts are so smooth it takes careful attention to notice. You'll find the Sport's base 2.4-liter four fully competitive with the power plants in the CR-V and RAV4, but if you have the budget flexibility we would recommend opting for two liters of turbocharged performance.
The Santa Fe Sport boasts one of the nicer cabins you'll find in an affordable crossover. Here you'll find materials quality well above average, in combination with a nicely integrated contemporary styled design. Switches are both well-organized and legible, and we found the touchscreen menus and functionality to be as intuitive as you might hope.
The Santa Fe Sport's front seats are supportive for long drives, and rear seat passengers will enjoy a sense of spaciousness missing in most competitive compact crossovers, especially when a third rear seat passenger is added. That additional interior volume is also reflected in cargo capacity. The Santa Fe Sport offers a generous 35.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats. And when those seats are folded, you (and your stuff) will enjoy more than 71 cubic feet, fully competitive with the CR-V and RAV4 segment leaders.
The only disconnect in the real world of stop-and-go is the Sport's limited rearward visibility. This is a function (or dysfunction) of the wide rear pillar and almost slit-like side and rear windows.