2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Review

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport ultimately falls short of the high bar set by its principal rivals.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

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.

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.



what's new

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.

we 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.





trim levels & features

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.



trim tested

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).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

3.0 / 5.0

Acceleration3.5 / 5.0
Braking3.0 / 5.0
Steering2.0 / 5.0
Handling3.0 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

3.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.5 / 5.0
Climate control3.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.0 / 5.0

Ease of use3.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5.0
Driving position2.5 / 5.0
Roominess5.0 / 5.0
Visibility2.5 / 5.0
Quality2.5 / 5.0

Utility

4.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage4.0 / 5.0
Cargo space3.5 / 5.0

Technology

3.0 / 5.0

Audio & navigation2.5 / 5.0
Smartphone integration4.0 / 5.0
Driver aids3.5 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
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.

Acceleration

edmunds rating
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.

Braking

edmunds rating
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.

Steering

edmunds rating
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.

Handling

edmunds rating
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.

Drivability

edmunds rating
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.

Comfort

edmunds rating
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.

Seat comfort

edmunds rating
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.

Ride comfort

edmunds rating
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 & vibration

edmunds rating
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

edmunds rating
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.

Interior

edmunds rating
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 use

edmunds rating
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 out

edmunds rating
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.

Driving position

edmunds rating
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.

Roominess

edmunds rating
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.

Visibility

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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.

Quality

edmunds rating
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.

Utility

edmunds rating
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.

Small-item storage

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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.

Cargo space

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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 accommodation

edmunds rating
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.

Technology

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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 & navigation

edmunds rating
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.

Smartphone integration

edmunds rating
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.

Driver aids

edmunds rating
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.

Voice control

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.

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.