2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Review
2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Cameron Rogers has worked in the automotive industry since 2013. He has tested and reviewed hundreds of vehicles over the course of his career. Today, he leads the news team in developing cutting-edge news articles, opinion pieces and sneak peeks at upcoming vehicles. Favorite cars that he's driven during his tenure at Edmunds include the 991-era Porsche 911 Turbo S, Rolls-Royce Ghost and several generations of Honda Odyssey (really).
- Generous rear-passenger and cargo space
- Can equip it with a lot of convenience features
- Firm yet comfortable seats
- Below-average fuel economy for a small crossover SUV
- Ride quality can be uncomfortably stiff on rough pavement
- Thick roof pillars hamper rearward visibility
- Sound-system quality is subpar
After last year's refresh, changes to the 2018 Santa Fe Sport are minor and limited to small adjustments to feature availability and option package naming.
From its name, you might surmise that the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport bears the mantle of performance in the compact crossover class. But the truth is that Hyundai uses the Sport moniker to differentiate this two-row small crossover from its big brother, the three-row Santa Fe. A budget-friendly Porsche Macan it's not. But as an easy-to-drive urban runabout, the Santa Fe Sport should satisfy.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.11 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$164/mo for Santa Fe Sport Base
Santa Fe Sport Base
Avg. Midsize SUV
In its lower trim levels, the Sport's base price is not too far removed from the pricing of popular small crossovers from Honda and Toyota. And yet it's a little bigger than those models. Four adults will find the interior genuinely spacious and well appointed, and a third adult in the rear is within the realm of possibility. You can also get a lot of features on the Santa Fe Sport, equipping it to luxurylike levels if you choose.
On the downside, the front seats aren't comfortable enough for everyday driving, the ride is pretty firm, and neither of the two available engines is particularly powerful nor fuel-efficient. Hyundai also limits the availability of some of the vehicle's driver safety aids to the most expensive trim level. Overall, we view the 2018 Santa Fe Sport as a decent choice for a small crossover but think you could very well be happier with one of its more accomplished rivals.
Edmunds' Expert Rating3.5 / 5
The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport isn't the newest kid on the block, and its underwhelming fuel economy and somewhat harsh ride quality prevent it from being a must-have. But if interior room is a priority, the Santa Fe Sport is still likely worth a look.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).
|Overall||3.5 / 5|
The Santa Fe Sport lags behind class leaders in terms of performance. The optional turbocharged 2.0-liter engine feels brisk, but it isn't as quick as competitors' upgraded mills. Vague steering and handling that doesn't inspire confidence also fall short.
Our tester's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is eager and feels strong around town and at freeway speeds. There's no real hesitation, the throttle doesn't feel twitchy, and acceleration is delivered smoothly. But our as-tested 0-60 mph time of 8 seconds falls short of rivals' optional engines.
The brake pedal is soft, but there's enough resistance that it's relatively easy to judge braking force by feel. Hard braking can make the vehicle feel unsteady, but it manages to stop straight. In our testing, the Sport stopped from 60 mph in 129 feet, which is average for the segment.
Overall, the steering feels artificial and frequently requires small adjustments. The on-center feel is vague in Normal mode, and steering effort doesn't build naturally as you turn the wheel. Turning on Sport mode tightens the on-center feel somewhat but adds unnecessary heft.
The Santa Fe Sport's body roll is noticeable but better controlled than it is in some competitors. It understeers readily, which doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. The vehicle is very stable at freeway speeds, but larger bumps can cause an unsettling bounce.
The transmission keeps you low in the rev range in Normal mode. You often have to give it extra gas to get the acceleration you want for passing maneuvers or maintaining uphill speed. Thankfully, gear changes are quick and smooth, and Sport mode keeps the engine in the powerband.
The seats are comfortable if firm and offer strong heating and ventilation. The ride is also a bit firm but well-controlled. Around town the interior is quiet, though engine drone and wind noise is noticeable at highway speeds. Climate control works well but doesn't have the best interface.
The seats are on the firm side but are nicely shaped and offer useful adjustments, especially the four-way lumbar and headrests. Even on longer drives we didn't find ourselves fidgeting, though we wished the armrests were higher. The rear seats are comfortable and can recline a surprising amount.
The ride quality is better than that of many competitors, doing a good job of balancing comfort and control. The suspension is a little firm, though, and prone to pronounced bounce over bumps and humps, but it doesn't feel busy or harsh.
Noise & vibration3.5
The Santa Fe Sport is quiet around town — surrounding traffic is mostly blocked out, and at low speeds the engine is muted. It's a mixed bag at freeway speeds — the levels of wind and road noise over bumps and rough surfaces are better than average, but the engine can sound drone-y.
Climate control and seat heating and cooling work well and quickly, but the button interface doesn't have the most logical layout. Full manual control beyond temperature and fan-speed requires looking at the infotainment screen. Leaving the system in automatic is easier, and it kept us comfortable.
There's lots of room for passengers, and the cabin feels airy and solidly screwed together, but otherwise does little to impress. Chintzy interior materials, an awkward driving position, and mediocre visibility don't live up to our tester's price tag or stack up well against competitors.
Ease of use3.0
The buttons are placed a bit haphazardly, so it takes a while to find exactly what you want if you're not familiar with the layout. The touchscreen system is quite easy to navigate, with some thoughtful choices that cut down on the number of steps needed to perform basic operations.
Getting in/getting out3.0
The square front door openings and low sills make entering and exiting easy. The rear doors aren't quite square, forcing you to lean forward a bit to get your head through. The rear doors are also a bit long, making entry and exit in narrow parking spaces more difficult.
The seating position places you high relative to the dash and armrests, yet the floor is close to the bottom of the seat. Tall drivers will sit with their legs extended and need to glance downward farther than is comfortable to see gauges and controls. It's a friendlier setup for shorter drivers.
There's plenty of room both front and back, with lots of head- and legroom for even tall rear passengers. There's a very low and flat hump on the floor between the rear seats, so the middle seat isn't awkward to use. The light-colored interior trim in our tester contributed to a feeling of openness.
The roof pillars are thick all around, and the top of the front windshield feels low. There are windows in the rear pillars, but they're located so high that they're nearly useless. Happily, the large side mirrors provide an excellent view, and the camera system helps at low speed.
The interior trim is chintzy-looking, with lots of hard plastics and a rubbery layer in places. The fake wood trim doesn't help, and the materials quality just didn't match the price of our tester. That said, there were no rattles or loose trim pieces, and everything felt durable and solid.
The trunk is spacious and easy to access, with good underfloor storage. Usability suffers a bit due to the raked roof and seats that don't fold perfectly flat. There's plenty of space for small items in the cabin. Still, class leaders offer more, and more clever, storage.
The center consoles offers a few useful cubbies, and all four door pockets will hold small water bottles. While less clever and extensive than what some competitors offer, there's quite a bit of space and plenty of options to keep small items from getting loose.
The 71.5 cubic feet of maximum storage falls short of class leaders but is still generous. The low floor makes loading and unloading easy, and there are sizable underfloor compartments. The rear seats don't fold perfectly flat, but they do have convenient releases in the trunk.
Child safety seat accommodation3.0
There's plenty of space for car seats, and the outboard LATCH locations are clearly marked, but the firm seat cushions can make them awkward to reach.
We appreciate the easy-to-use infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and the full suite of driver aids. On the other hand, some features are inaccessible while in motion, and the voice control system is frustrating and has limited functionality.
Audio & navigation2.5
The nav system has a lot of features, including Google search. But the vehicle must be parked to use many of them, and not all can be accessed via voice control. The infotainment system is easy to use, but the audio system delivers poorer sound quality than we expect from an optional system.
There's full Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration but only one USB port. There are several 12-volt outlets so you can charge more than one device if you have an adapter. Bluetooth pairing is straightforward and works well.
A complete suite of aids is available. Blind-spot and forward-collision warning systems aren't overly sensitive. Adaptive cruise works well, even in traffic, but going downhill it grabs the brakes intermittently to maintain speed. The side camera view is awkward for navigating close-by obstructions.
The voice controls are slow to respond and require specific phrasing in specific order to access their limited functionality. Asking for help displays only a partial list of possible commands. Its response is "Sorry, I didn't understand you" whether it misheard you or can't do what you're asking.
Which Santa Fe Sport does Edmunds recommend?
If it were our money, we'd go with the base Sport model. Its non-turbocharged four-cylinder isn't as peppy as the 2.0T's turbocharged unit, but it's also far less expensive. We think this year's Value package is a good deal since it bundles plenty of desirable features (such as heated front seats, a touchscreen and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality) and doesn't add too much to the sticker price. That said, if you're also thinking of adding the Premium Equipment package, you might as well step up to the 2.0T; it includes that package, and the fuel economy drop is meager.
2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport models
he 2018 Santa Fe Sport compact crossover is Hyundai's entry in one of the most hotly contested segments in the U.S. (The similarly named Santa Fe has three rows and is reviewed separately.) Its reasonably priced base Sport model is powered by a four-cylinder engine and includes a modest number of standard features; several option packages are available to raise the luxury factor. The 2.0T and 2.0T Ultimate are pricey upgrades, but the turbocharged engine underhood is considerably more powerful. Some of the base model's packages are standard on the 2.0T models, narrowing the price gap.
The Santa Fe Sport is sold in three trims. The base Sport is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (185 horsepower, 178 pound-feet of torque), while the 2.0T and 2.0T Ultimate are driven by a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine (240 hp, 260 lb-ft). A six-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board, and any model can be specified with front- or all-wheel drive.
Notable standard features for the base trim include 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, air-conditioning, a rearview camera, a 40/20/40-split rear seat, Bluetooth connectivity, a 5-inch display screen, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB port.
The new Value package bundles LED daytime running lights, foglights, heated mirrors, roof rails, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat with lumbar adjustment, heated front seats, a 7-inch display screen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, Hyundai Blue Link services and satellite radio.
Selecting the Premium Equipment package adds those features, along with a hands-free power liftgate, a color driver information screen, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, a power front passenger seat, slide and recline functionality for the rear seats, rear side window sunshades, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The Tech package includes the contents of the Premium Equipment package along with a panoramic sunroof, a top-down parking camera system, rear parking sensors, driver-seat memory settings, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, an 8-inch touchscreen, navigation and a 12-speaker Infinity premium audio system.
Step up to the 2.0T and you get a more powerful turbocharged engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust tips and the contents of the Premium Equipment package.
There's one more package available if you want to go whole hog: the 2.0T Ultimate's Tech package. It adds adaptive headlights with automatic high-beam control, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and an electronic parking brake with auto hold.
Finally, the top-of-the-line 2.0T Ultimate adds 19-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED taillights and the contents of the Tech package.
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
2 out of 5 stars
I loved this car until...
2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
This is my 3rd Hyundai and the 1st one to truly disappoint me. I bought the car new, drove it to work and back almost exclusively on the highway and after 10 months and 11, 653 miles, the engine blew. Yep. Completely quit me. The good news is that the car told me it was having problems and all I had to do was press a button and there was a technician on the line as I drove along who … was checking the messages coming from the engine. Unfortunately, he was unable to diagnose any problems and suggested I get to a dealership as quickly as possible. I was 300+ miles from home when it happened so he found the closest dealership and I was headed that way when the car jumped, stuttered and acted like it had lost most of its power, so I pulled over. The technician then told me to contact customer support and they would have my vehicle towed to the nearest dealership. All of this was way beyond my expectations and I was so thankful to have them making arrangements since I was so far from home and by myself. Unfortunately, that's where the good ends. Since that time, the engine was diagnosed as a failed engine and needs replaced. After 2 months (yes, you read that right) at the dealership, there is still no ETA of when an engine will be available to replace the one that quit. The engine in mine is the 2.4L and it apparently has a history of failure. When I called down to the dealership today, they said there are THREE of them on the lot like mine waiting on an engine and the dealership can't get any information from the manufacturer as to when an engine will arrive for any of them. I truly loved my Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and was planning to drive it for several years but now I'm looking at having to replace it. To top it all off, the customer service from the national level has been sporadic, inconsistent and frustrating. One person approved a rental and another did not approve a rental, then a 3rd person approved a rental but only after I had been without any car or compensation for 45 days. At this point I'm thankful for my state's Lemon Laws because Hyundai now must purchase my car back from me. However, even that is taking more time than it should while I'm still without a vehicle. It's too bad because I would have purchased a Tucson as a replacement but now I doubt I'll ever own another Hyundai based on this experience. Purchase with caution.
5 out of 5 stars
Hyundai Excels in the 2018 Santa Fe Sport Ultimate
2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate 4dr SUV (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
After 3 months of research, test driving 12 different compact or mid-size SUVs, and considerations of value, pricing, safety, features, comfort, driving ride, and technology onboard...I purchased a 2018 Pearl White Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T (2-liter 240 hp Turbo) Ultimate SUV with a gray leather interior. … In 2017, our daughter purchased a Black Santa Fe Sport with Beige interior that is essentially the same as mine in terms of features/options - with the exception of her's having the base 2.4L (185hp) engine. Following my reading of more than 15 trade magazine reviews, as well as personal experiences with this vehicle - we all agreed on the following: Terrific value for the money; Solid construction; Feature-rich; Tech-rich; The 2.0L Turbo engine is worth the moderate extra cost; The interior is well done, roomy, and comfortable; Dollar-for-dollar - the best bang for the buck in its mid-size SUV class. Candidly...when doing all of the pre-purchase homework...I took the approach of "consider all the other similar vehicles that are better", and determine which of those would be 1 of my 2 finalist considerations. After all the research and numerous test drives of other players, the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate won the contest hands down. I must mention that I did miss my trade-in of a Mercedes E320, but the joyful ride of the Santa Fe Sport is might close of a pleasant driving experience. Mike drop.
5 out of 5 stars
Upgrade to the great "Tech package!"
2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Bought this vehicle to replace my wife's 2010 Santa Fe. Have driven it for two weeks now. We upgraded to the AWD and Sport 2.0T Ultimate turbo engine with the tech package. I am truly surprised at what a pleasure it is to drive this handsome car. When traveling the highway, all I need to do is basically make sure I have the radio on the correct XM station and that the temperature in … the car is set for my likes. Other than that, let the tech package take over. What I mean is that with the Smart Cruise Control package, the car keeps me about five car lengths behind the car in front of me. If I'm traveling a four lane highway, and the car in front of me is going slower than the speed I've set, all I need to do is pull out to pass. And, when I do pull out to pass, the blind spot warning will let me know if there is another car present and whether it's safe to do so or not. Also the lane departure warning let's me know if I'm straying from my own lane. Oh, and if that slower person in front of me slows down while I'm in Smart Cruise Control, my car automatically slows down. I tested it once and upon coming to a red light, I let the the Smart Cruise Control take my car to a FULL STOP based on what the car in front of me did. I frequently travel a dark, hilly, and winding road. No problem with the tech package as this car has Dynamic Bending Light, Auto Leveling Headlights and High Beam Assist. All of which means as I take those turns, the headlights shine the corners. If I'm going uphill, the lights shine up the hill and I no longer need to worry about the high beam as the car automatically turns it on or off as needed. The car also comes equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking with pedestrian warning. I haven't used either of those features and hope to never use them! Our car is Mineral Gray with black interior. I find accelerating a breeze as the car shifts smoothly through the gears to settle where it needs to be. The back seats come with heated seats. A large moon roof is impressive. I am totally in love with this car. One knock is that I find it difficult to find a place to rest my left elbow while driving. The normal place where I would rest it is where the window and door meet. This location seems a little too high for my comfort. Oh, the car comes with a three year subscription to My Hyundai which allows remote lock/unlock and starting. I can also tell the car how long to run and set it to whatever temp I want. A great plus for cold New England winters and (somewhat) hot summer days. Oh, those are all done FROM MY CELL PHONE!!! I am not very impressed with Android Auto, but that could be because I haven't played too much with it to this point. The noise inside this car is a great reduction from our 2010 Santa Fe. I would definitely recommend this car if you're in the market.
5 out of 5 stars
So nice had to do it twice!
Sharon Nowlin, 01/07/2018
2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
Unfortunately our 2014 Santa Dr Turbo was totalled in a serious accident. Triple rollover...walked away with non-life-threatening injuries. Every panel on the vehicle was crushed or damaged. Firmly believe the safety and quality of the Santa Dr saved our lives
2018 Santa Fe Sport Highlights
|Combined MPG||24 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$164/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
Our experts like the Santa Fe Sport models:
- Blind Spot Detection System
- Illuminates a light on the side mirrors when a vehicle enters the Santa Fe Sport's blind spot. Can also identify approaching cars.
- Multi-view Camera System
- Provides a 360-degree, bird's-eye view of the Santa Fe Sport to aid in parking maneuvers.
- Smart Cruise Control
- Maintains a set distance between the Santa Fe Sport and the car in front while using cruise control.
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover15.1%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestAcceptable
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood