Hyundai has been making a pretty big comeback lately, and when you take one look at the latest Santa Fe, this should come as no surprise. Gone are the days of the melted looking first-gen Santa Fe, the rather bland second-generation car, and in rolls the “fluidic sculpture” third-generation Santa Fe. Although having previously owned the second generation, my father saw to it that a third generation replaced it almost immediately after its release. Although he went with the 2.4L version, I was eager to compare it to the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T that I spent a few days with.
The first obvious difference between the two is, of course, under the hood. While the 2.4-liter model churns out 190 horses, this 2.0T packs a 264 horsepower punch – a significant difference, and one that you really notice when trying to pass on the highway. Torque-wise the 2.4 is netting 181l b/ft and the 2.0T is generating 269 lb-ft. The numbers stack up very differently for two vehicles that look nearly identical. However, the extra power of the 2.0T is really a luxury in my eyes as an auto enthusiast – the 2.4 model does pack enough to cater to the needs of the average consumer.
During my week with the Santa Fe Sport, we had some serious snow. In one shelling, there was around 30 centimeters. Thankfully, the all-wheel-drive system Hyundai has equipped the Santa Fe with handled the white stuff with ease. In fact, it’s so good that my dad has been able to get away with what he likes to refer to as “very summery all-season” tires even in this wild winter we have been having. My tester was equipped with some brilliant winter tires, and it was truly unstoppable. Cornering came with confidence as well as the ability to adjust the steering mode to my liking. I will admit though that in anything other than “Sport” mode, it felt a bit lazy. The suspension on the Santa Fe Sport did a great job of pushing through snowy corners without any fuss.
One of the main reasons I’m drawn to the Santa Fe over its competitors is the excellent ratio between practicality and value. For under $35,000, you get all-wheel-drive, a rer-view camera, and the ability to fit five full-sized occupants. Bump this price tag to the $40,000 mark and you’re given the luxuries of a turbocharged engine, leather seats, and this seriously-impressive 10-speaker Infinity audio systems. I may take some flack for saying this, but I actually consider this system up to par with some Bang & Olufsen systems in vehicles that cost significantly more than this Santa Fe Sport.
My father has used his Santa Fe for exactly its intended purpose. This past summer, he and my stepmother drove the truck all the way down to New Mexico with lots of luggage, two dogs, and a couple of large telescopes (he’s an avid astronomer). He even rigged up a gate to keep the dogs from entering the passenger compartment of the car. As comfortable as the dogs were, they unfortunately did not get any time in my tester – that would just cause a big mess. Regardless, that road trip confirmed for me that when the day comes to buy a sport-utility, I won’t be looking elsewhere.
As great as it may be, I can’t continuously praise the Santa Fe Sport for everything. Like every other car, it does have its flaws. Rearward visibility isn’t as good as I’d like, and the blind spots are quite big. I have noticed a few quality control issues that have turned up on my dad’s Santa Fe as well. A creaking in the dash panels is quite prevalent when it’s very cold. However, I am able to chalk this up to that car being a first-year model for that generation. My particular tester had just over 10,000km on it, and everything felt just as strong as it should. I had the Sport during a particularly cold week, and could not muster any better than 11.7L/100km in mostly city driving.
The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a serious contender in its market, and serves only to strengthen Hyundai’s new face. To put it into perspective, many of the features available in my fully-loaded Limited tester would not be found in a BMW X3 or a Mercedes-Benz GLK. Sure, you don’t get the allure and brand appeal of the German vehicles, but you do get a good-looking, well-equipped and efficient people mover for a fraction of the price. With players such as the new Santa Fe on the market, the Germans are going to have to work even harder to convince consumers to shell over the extra cash for their products.
2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Gallery