If you're looking at crossover SUVs, you may find the fact that Hyundai offers two separate models with very similar names a tad confusing. But once you understand where the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport fits in, you'll see that there's a method to Hyundai's madness. The Santa Fe Sport, which receives a thorough freshening for 2017, is a small crossover that seats five. The Santa Fe (reviewed separately), which has also been updated this year, is a midsize crossover SUV with room for up to seven passengers in three rows of seats.
Revised front-end styling is one way to tell the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport apart from its predecessors.
With that confusion cleared up, we can tell you the Santa Fe Sport's tidier measurements make for an all-around more nimble package. Engine choices include a 185-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four that puts out a healthy 240 hp. These output numbers have actually dropped since last year, but Hyundai claims the retuning yields more oomph at low engine speeds. It should be noted that, despite a slight bump in fuel economy for 2017, neither engine is particularly efficient, with the Santa Fe Sport's official EPA numbers being only slightly better than those of the larger V6-powered Santa Fe.
Like most Hyundai models, the Santa Fe Sport provides a lengthy list of amenities, including some that you don't always see in this segment, such as a hands-free power liftgate and adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking. A roomy interior with a sleekly futuristic dashboard adds to the appeal. While the Santa Fe Sport has much to offer, the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 are also very appealing, as is the related but newer Kia Sportage. It's certainly worth test-driving as many vehicles as you can in this fast-moving segment, but you just might find yourself coming back to the well-rounded 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.
Standard safety features on the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard are a rearview camera and Blue Link, Hyundai's emergency system that provides services such as remote access, emergency assistance, theft recovery and geo-fencing.
Blind-spot detection is one of the numerous safety features offered on the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.
A blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert are optional for the base Santa Fe and standard on both 2.0T models. Rear parking sensors and a multiview camera system that gives a 360-degree view around the vehicle are standard on the 2.0T Ultimate and optional on the base model. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning are available as options on the 2.0T Ultimate.
In government crash tests, the Santa Fe Sport earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with five stars each in the frontal- and side-impact protection categories. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the Santa Fe Sport similarly earned a top "Good" rating in moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset tests, plus a "Good" rating in the side-impact, roof-strength and seat/head restraint design (for rear-impact whiplash protection) tests.
The IIHS has also given the Santa Fe Sport's optional forward collision mitigation system a top ranking of "Superior."
In Edmunds brake testing, a Santa Fe Sport 2.0T AWD came to a stop from 60 mph in 127 feet, which is a few feet longer than average.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a five-passenger small crossover SUV that's offered in three trim levels: base, 2.0T and 2.0T Ultimate. The larger seven-passenger Hyundai Santa Fe is reviewed separately.
Although the 2017 Santa Fe Sport is technically a small crossover, its bold styling and spacious interior make it seem more like a midsize model
The entry-level Santa Fe Sport comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, rear privacy glass, a rear spoiler, a windshield wiper de-icer (AWD models only), air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a 40/20/40-split rear seat, a telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, a 5-inch display screen and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and USB/audio input jacks.
Optional for the base model is the Popular Equipment package that bundles front foglights, LED daytime running lights, roof rack side rails, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), a 7-inch touchscreen display, Hyundai Blue Link services and Android Auto smartphone integration.
You can also get the Sport Premium package (requires Popular Equipment package). It adds extra safety features (see Safety section below), a hands-free power liftgate, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a six-way power front passenger seat (includes height adjustment), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, slide and recline functionality for the rear seats, and rear side window sunshades.
Step up to the 2.0T and you get a more powerful turbocharged engine, 18-inch alloy wheels and the contents of the above option packages as standard.
The top-of-the-line 2.0T Ultimate adds 19-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, a 360-degree parking camera system, driver memory settings, ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, an 8-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system and a 12-speaker Infinity premium sound system.
For the base Santa Fe Sport, you can get most of the Ultimate trim's extra features as part of the Tech package.
Finally, the 2.0T Ultimate model can be had with the optional Ultimate Tech package that includes adaptive headlights with automatic high beam control, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and an electronic parking brake with auto hold.
Under the hood, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport base model gets a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 185 hp and 178 pound-feet of torque. The Santa Fe Sport 2.0T models get an upgrade to a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional. The only available transmission is a six-speed automatic.
According to EPA fuel economy estimates, the front-wheel-drive Santa Fe Sport 2.4 achieves 24 mpg combined (21 city/27 highway), while all-wheel drive knocks it down to 22 mpg combined (20 city/26 highway). These are below-average numbers for the segment. With the turbocharged engine, fuel economy is essentially the same at 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway) with front-wheel drive and 22 mpg combined (19 city/26 highway) with all-wheel drive.
On the road, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport doesn't feel as sporty as its name might lead you to believe, but its firm suspension is a step in that direction. On the flip side, while ride and handling characteristics are fine on smooth pavement, that suspension tends to transmit rough patches directly to the cabin, with little apparent absorption. Happily, the interior is among the quieter spaces in this class, so as long as you stick to well-maintained roads, the Santa Fe Sport should be a pleasant traveling companion.
By the numbers, the 2017 Santa Fe Sport 2.0T is one of the most powerful vehicles in its class.
The standard 2.4-liter engine can hold its own against comparable four-cylinder engines from the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and others. It's nice that Hyundai offers an upgraded turbocharged engine, but we've found its maximum performance to be underwhelming in Edmunds testing. Still, the turbo gives you a lot more get-up-and-go in everyday driving, so it's definitely worth test-driving alongside the base engine and seeing which one feels like a better fit for your style.
The 2017 Santa Fe Sport offers a passenger cabin that's a cut above what you might be expecting from an affordable crossover. Most materials have a quality look and feel, while the switches and controls are generally simple and intuitive to use. We also like Hyundai's straightforward and highly legible touchscreen interface.
The front seats offer good comfort and support, while the rear seats feel more spacious than those of competing models. The interior's biggest negative is visibility, thanks to wide rear roof pillars and small side and rear windows.
The available panoramic sunroof gives the 2017 Santa Fe Sport an airy and upscale character inside.
That roomy interior also makes for a spacious cargo hold, with 35.4 cubic feet of room behind the rear seats and a healthy 71 cubic feet with those seatbacks folded down, numbers that are on par with category leaders. Getting bulky items in and out is made easier by virtue of the available hands-free rear liftgate that opens automatically when you stand behind the car for a few seconds with the key fob in your pocket or purse.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.