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2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport REVIEW

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

Con: Subpar fuel economy; poor rearward visibility; 2.0T's lackluster acceleration.

Interior: The 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has one of the nicer cabins you'll find in an affordable crossover. Highlights include above-average materials quality, a sleek dashboard and an overall sense of spaciousness. 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 space to accommodate drivers of all sizes. Second-row passengers will also find the quarters to their liking, aided by reclining seatbacks and plenty of head- and legroom.

Many crossover shoppers pay close attention to cargo capacity, and the Santa Fe Sport boasts a healthy 35.4 cubic feet of it behind the rear seats. Those seatbacks fold flat to open up 71.5 cubes, which is right up there with class leaders like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

Body: The 2015 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, a driver's blind-spot mirror, LED headlight accents, tinted rear windows, heated side mirrors, cruise control, a trip computer, 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, USB/iPod integration and an auxiliary audio input.

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 four-way 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, a color trip computer, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, manual rear window sunshades and a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist.

The Technology package requires the Premium package and adds rear parking sensors, a panoramic sunroof, a hands-free power liftgate, metal door sill plates, 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 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.

Driving: All across the driving spectrum, the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has the potential to impress. Used as a leisurely commuter and kid shuttle, it offers a compliant ride and a quiet cabin, even at highway speeds. On winding roads, the Santa Fe Sport feels fairly confident for this class of vehicle, aided by retuned steering for 2015. Rearward visibility, however, is poor due to the thick rear roof pillars and small rear side windows. As such, the available rearview camera is a must-have.

Despite the 2.0T's unimpressive 8.1-second sprint to 60 mph, it's a gratifying engine in the real world, with a smooth yet assertive power delivery that's reminiscent of a V6. Gearchanges from the automatic transmission can be a bit tardy, but the shifts are so smooth that most drivers likely won't mind. The base 2.4-liter four is a respectable engine in its own right, providing comparable performance to the CR-V and RAV4. Given the 2.4's insignificant fuel economy advantage over the 2.0T, however, we recommend upgrading if your budget permits.

What’s New: For 2015, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport adds a few standard features, including daytime running lights, a two-tone grille and a driver's blind spot mirror. A hands-free power liftgate is now available as an option. Finally, the steering system has been revised for a more precise feel.

Powering the base 2015 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.

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 264 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy drops only slightly to 22 mpg combined (19 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 slower than average for a small crossover with an upgraded engine.

Safety: Standard safety features for the 2015 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. The blind-spot monitor includes a supplemental system called lane-change assist, which measures the closing speed of the car in the adjacent lane and warns you if it's too high.

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, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests. The Santa Fe Sport's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

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.

Pro: Spacious and stylish interior; perfect crash test scores; lots of features for the money; lengthy warranty.

Edmunds Say: With its generous equipment roster, top safety ratings and lengthy warranty, the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a strong competitor among affordable crossover SUVs.

Introduction: If you spend time researching the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport you'll likely find that there's a lot to like about this small crossover SUV. Although the Santa Fe Sport is the smaller sibling of the seven-passenger Hyundai Santa Fe, it still has enough room to accommodate adult passengers in comfort, and its crash test scores are top-notch. Hyundai doesn't make it the cheap-o version either, as the Sport comes pretty well equipped and can even be optioned with features you'd normally expect on a luxury sedan.

Most of the Sport's drawbacks relate to its engines. The standard four-cylinder engine with all-wheel drive rates 21 mpg in combined driving, according to the EPA. These days, fuel economy in the high 20s is par for the course among competing models, whereas the Santa Fe Sport's numbers are more in line with those of larger crossovers. It's a surprising drawback in an otherwise very well-executed vehicle. And while the Sport offers a more powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine, in our testing it didn't accelerate as quickly as we'd expect.

Shoppers have no shortage of appealing choices in this class. The 2015 Ford Escape and 2015 Mazda CX-5 stand out for their responsive handling, upscale interiors and advanced technology options. Then there's the top-selling 2015 Honda CR-V, which boasts numerous improvements this year, and the well-rounded 2015 Toyota RAV4. Notably, all of these models give you better fuel economy. But the Santa Fe Sport has enough going for it otherwise to make it a very respectable pick.

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