Great handling and responsiveness, refined interiors and solid engine performance fitted in a fun-sized SUV. Mexico Automotive Review took the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport down the 57D federal highway and the roads of Leon and Celaya to see how a turbocharged engine fared in the utility vehicle segment.
The 2018 Santa Fe Sport stands out from its sisters in the Santa Fe series thanks to its motorization and smaller size. Its LED DRLs and fog lights, combined with its stylish HID headlamps, chrome grill and a well-balanced front design offer a hint of this SUV’s sporty nature but the true source of fun is under the hood. Compared to other options in the Santa Fe series equipped with a 3.3l V6 engine and a three-row seat configuration, the version comes with a 2.0l turbocharged, four-in-line engine linked to an intuitive six-speed automatic transmission and a smaller size that ensures agility.
Not only does this vehicle scream power thanks to the roar of its turbo, it also offers fast-responsive handling and great maneuverability at low inner-city and fast highway speeds. On city roads, the 2018 Santa Fe Sport throttles and brakes swiftly, delivering an enjoyable driving experience. Additionally, it has solid fuel efficiency for a 1.7-ton midsize SUV without cargo of 10.8km/l thanks to its turbocharger, gasoline direct injection (GDi) and SHIFTRONIC system in its gearbox.
While the Sport version of Santa Fe consumes slightly more fuel on city roads than its regular Santa Fe sisters (which average 10.05km/l), the vehicle makes up for that lag at higher speeds on the highway and in combined fuel consumption performance. Santa Fe Sport delivers on-the-highway fuel performance of 16.7km/l and a combined efficiency of 12.8km/l, which beats its sisters’ average of 15.39km/l for highways and combined performance of 12.8km/l according to data from Hyundai.
Another feature that makes Santa Fe Sport a great go-to option for auto buyers that often travel on highways is its Cruise Control system. Mexico Automotive Review was pleasantly surprised with how reliable this system is. Drivers can push two buttons on the steering wheel and lift the throttle. The Santa Fe will keep its speed set for a more enjoyable driving experience on the highway. Additionally, McPherson front suspension and Multilink rear suspensions ensure an enviable stability in curves even at high speeds and great response when hitting potholes or driving on uneven terrains, something we appreciated while driving on Celaya’s pothole- and bump-ridden streets. Other features that add to Santa Fe Sport’s easy handling are its Electronic Stability Control (ESC) optimized through Hyundai’s Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) system that coordinates the vehicle’s active safety features (ABS brakes, BA and EBD systems) to reduce the probability of losing control of the car.
Santa Fe Sport includes other security features as well such as a blind spot monitor that blinks in the side mirrors to let the driver know when a car is approaching. This system beeps whenever the vehicle has its directional blinkers on and is changing lanes to tell the driver whether swerving to the right or left could result in an impact. The rearview camera also warns drivers when incoming traffic can make entering a street while in reverse a difficult move. Santa Fe Sport features a Breaking Assistance System that boosts the vehicle’s braking power when the vehicle identifies an emergency.
In terms of comfort, Santa Fe Sport stands out for its roomy cabin. Though this SUV may seem small from the outside, its elegant leather interiors, panoramic roof and roomy seats and trunk make it ideal for small families or couples travelling together. It also comes with top-of-the-line infotainment technology including a seven-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capabilities and both USB and Bluetooth connectivity to access six speakers distributed strategically within the cabin. While Santa Fe Sport’s navigation system could be updated to include new roads, the fact that this vehicle equips this as standard equipment says a lot about Hyundai’s commitment to technology.
The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has an automatic seat and side-mirror adjuster with two memory slots. While it may feel odd to feel the seat moving on its own when starting Santa Fe Sport, couples taking turns to drive the car can find an advantage in not having to readjust the seat every time they drive it.
In general terms, we found the 2018 Santa Fe Sport to be a fun SUV that delivers a very enjoyable driving experience both on inner-city and highway commutes. The fact that it delivers swift acceleration and fast-responsive handling without compromising safety makes it a solid option for car buyers. As one of the few turbocharged SUVs in Mexico, Santa Fe Sport has an edge in terms of responsiveness and fuel performance at high speeds, which enables it to stand out among competitors in the midsize segment. The fact that it comes with a navigation system and smartphone-connectivity technology as standard makes it a solid go-to option for young, millennial families and couples interested in full-time connectivity.