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2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/3/2017

Con: Lower fuel economy than that of rivals; poor rearward visibility.

Interior: The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has one of the nicer cabins in the small-to-midsize crossover SUV class. This is thanks in no small part to the cabin's outstanding materials quality, thoughtful placement of controls and overall spaciousness. As we've come to expect from Hyundai, the Santa Fe's cockpit could serve as a benchmark for elegant simplicity in the segment. Switchgear is well-organized and legible, while the touchscreen menus and functions are as intuitive as it gets.

The front seats are pretty comfortable for longer drives, with enough adjustments to accommodate drivers of all sizes. Second-row passengers will also find the quarters to their liking, with a wide range of recline angle and plenty of head- and legroom for the average adult, even with the optional panoramic sunroof.

Many crossover shoppers pay close attention to cargo capacity, and the Sport boasts a healthy 35.4 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seats. The second-row seats fold flat to accept 71.5 cubes, which is right up there with the capacity offered by the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

Body: The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a small crossover SUV with seating for five. It's available in base and 2.0 Turbo trims. Standard features for the base model include 17-inch alloy wheels; a rear spoiler; LED headlight accents; tinted rear windows; keyless entry; cruise control; a trip computer; full power accessories; air-conditioning; a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; cloth upholstery; 40/20/40-split folding rear seats; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; Hyundai's BlueLink telematics system; and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite radio and USB/iPod integration.

Optional is the Popular Equipment package, which adds automatic headlights, foglights, heated mirrors, roof rack rails, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, a 4.3-inch touchscreen for audio control, a rearview camera and an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with four-way power lumbar support). The Premium Equipment package can be added to this and includes keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable passenger seat, sliding 60/40-split rear seats (with remote folding latches in the cargo area), dual-zone automatic climate control, upgraded gauges, a color trip computer, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear window sunshades and a blind-spot monitoring system.

The Sport 2.0T comes with all of the above, along with a more powerful turbocharged engine, 18-inch wheels and a tow package.

The Technology package is available for both base Premium and 2.0T models and adds larger wheels (19-inch for the 2.0T and 18-inch for base Premium Equipment package models), xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, a heated steering wheel, driver memory settings, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a navigation system with an 8-inch touchscreen, an upgraded audio system for the base Premium model and a 12-speaker Infinity surround-sound system for the 2.0T.

Driving: On either side of the driving spectrum, the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has the potential to impress. Used as a leisurely commuter and kid shuttle, it offers a luxuriously compliant ride and the cabin remains whisper-quiet, even at highway speeds. On winding mountain passes, the Santa Fe feels fairly light and sporty for this class of vehicle. There are a couple of demerits, however. The steering has a tendency to wander on the highway (necessitating frequent small corrections by the driver), and rear visibility is poor due to its thick rear roof pillars (making the available rearview camera a must-have).

We've found the 2.0T engine impressive, with a smooth delivery of power that is on par with that of some V6 engines. As a result, this Santa Fe gets up to highway speeds with authority. Gearchanges from the automatic transmission can be a bit delayed, but the changes are so smooth that this minor sluggishness will likely go unnoticed. Budget permitting, we prefer the 2.0T engine, but the base engine will likely satisfy most drivers.

What’s New: The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport receives a few extra standard and optional features for 2014, including a blind-spot monitoring system.

Powering the base 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 190 horsepower 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. Fuel economy estimates are decent, with an EPA-estimated 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city/27 mpg highway) for front-wheel drive. With all-wheel drive, fuel economy drops to 21 mpg combined (19 mpg city/25 mpg highway). Most competitors have slightly better fuel economy ratings.

The Santa Fe Sport 2.0T has a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that increases output to 264 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy drops only slightly, with an EPA-estimated 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city/27 mpg highway) for the front-drive 2.0T and 21 mpg combined (18 mpg city/24 mpg highway) for all-wheel drive.

In Edmunds performance testing, an all-wheel-drive 2.0T Santa Fe accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, which is slower than average for a small crossover with an upgraded engine.

Safety: Standard safety features for the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, front seat active head restraints and hill hold and descent control. Also standard is BlueLink, Hyundai's emergency telematics system, which offers roadside assistance, crash response, remote door lock control and monitoring features for parents with teenage drivers (speed, geo-fencing and curfew limits). A rearview camera and blind-spot monitoring system are optional on the base model and standard on the 2.0T.

In government crash testing, the Santa Fe Sport earned a top five-star rating for overall crash protection, with five stars for total frontal-impact safety and five stars for side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn't tested the Santa Fe Sport, but the larger, three-row Santa Fe earned a top "Good" rating in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. It also earned a top rating for its head restraint/seat design for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Santa Fe 2.0T AWD came to a stop from 60 mph in 127 feet, which is about 5 feet longer than average.

Pro: Spacious and thoughtfully designed interior; lots of standard and optional features for the money; lengthy warranty.

Edmunds Say: The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a strong competitor among five-passenger crossover SUVs and should definitely be considered alongside the established competition.

Introduction: The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has a lot going for it. This five-passenger crossover is sharply styled and offers plenty of standard and optional features. It also has a pleasantly roomy and quiet interior, and accelerates and handles well enough to satisfy most buyers' performance expectations. But considering how heated the competition is among small and midsize crossover SUVs for 2014, a vehicle almost has to be this good just to measure up to the pack.

In reality, the Santa Fe Sport does more than just measure up: It's a bona fide standout. Introduced just last year, the Sport is the smaller sibling of the three-row, seven-passenger Santa Fe (covered in a separate review). The five-passenger Sport nixes the third row and measures 8.5 inches shorter bumper to bumper. As a result, the smaller Santa Fe is a bit more engaging to drive and navigates tighter confines with greater ease. Hyundai offers two engines here: a base 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a stronger, livelier turbocharged 2.0-liter.

Despite being the smaller sibling, the Sport is still quite roomy and boasts comfortable seating for adults and enough luggage or cargo space to easily handle daily errands and family life. And in keeping with Hyundai's current tradition, the Santa Fe Sport offers some pretty appealing convenience and luxury features for pricing that's quite competitive. Topping it all off is Hyundai's generous warranty coverage.

In addition, the 2014 Santa Fe Sport matches up in just about every area with top-ranked small crossover SUVs like the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4. One of the few areas in which the Hyundai comes up short is fuel economy. Compared with the aforementioned competition, the Santa Fe Sport trails by 3-4 mpg in combined driving. But even with that caveat, we still wholeheartedly recommend the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport for your crossover SUV short list.

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