2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Review

The spirit of the Southwest, or at least its shopping centers.

By: David Merline

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: April 29th, 2015

The Hyundai Santa Fe was an unexpected hit for the South Korean automaker. After failing to excite the Asian market, the Santa Fe was brought to America, where it quickly took off-at its peak the Santa Fe was selling faster than Hyundai could manufacture them.

When it came upon the scene in 2001, crossovers weren't really a thing, it was all about those SUVs, but either Hyundai knew what they were doing, or they were very lucky. Either way, the Santa Fe remains one of Hyundai's most popular vehicles.

The Santa Fe underwent a major overhaul for the 2013 model, when a long-wheel-base variant was released. This new version is now sold as the Santa Fe, and the regular-wheel-base version is now known as the Santa Fe Sport.

  • Exterior

    The Santa Fe has definitely gotten better looking as its aged. It's gone from bland and soft to butch and chiseled, with sharper door and hood creases and, of course, a more aggressive grille.

    But the Santa Fe Sport is just at the end of its cycle, so if it looks a bit more "blah" than some of the newer Hyundais and Kias you've seen on the road recently, that's because it is. Still, given that all SUVs, especially ones of the crossover variety, tend to look identical, Hyundai has done well with its rather limited canvas.

  • Interior

    Delivering value for the money has been the aim of Hyundai in recent years, and the Santa Fe is a prime example of just how well they do that. Using more supple plastics usually found only in luxury-level cars, and drawing design inspiration from the Lexus-and-up classes, the interior of the Santa Fe is a whole lot fancier than the exterior leads you to believe.

    This is as it should be, of course, since inside is where you'll be spending all of your time with this car. Standard interior features include push-button start, keyless entry, heated leather front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power seats for driver and front seat passenger, reclining second-row seats, and an infotainment screen with SiriusXM, and Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system.

    That only covers the things covered by the Santa Fe Sport's $33,000 MSRP. Add the Ultimate Package (costing a pretty penny at $4,350) and you get larger wheels, a better sound system, parking sensors, a dual-zone climate control with an ionic air cleaner, a heated steering wheel, satellite navigation, and -best of all - a panoramic sunroof.

    Those extras do impact the bottom line (our tester came to $38,350), but it's still a tremendous value for the money. The panoramic sunroof alone is worth the extra money, if you ask us.

  • On the Road

    Now, calling any crossover Sport is kind of rich, considering that they are purpose-built vehicles with things other than sporting in mind. But Hyundai seems to take the word "sport" literally, so the Santa Fe Sport has a third-row seat, for those extra team members, we presume.

    The Santa Fe Sport is driven by a turbocharged inline-four making 264 hp, more than enough to give this Sport a good amount of get-up-and-go, at least when you don't have the full team on board. Despite the Sport name, and the available steering settings (which vary the amount of resistance the wheel gives), it's impossible to call the Santa Fe Sport anything other than adequately powered.

    It's an excellent vehicle for driving to a sporting event in, but you probably won't be doing much sporty driving-you'll probably be more concerned with safety. The Santa Fe Sport has a full complement of airbags, and earns a 5-star safety rating, but as it's the end-of-the-cycle model, it's a bit behind the times in terms of advanced safety technology.

    There are parking sensors, a backup camera, and even cross-traffic alert, but with many competitors offering near-self-driving ability at highway speeds, the 2015 may be a bit too out-of-date if you're looking for cutting-edge safety solutions.

    The Sport also loses points for its rather meager 18 mpg city rating (24 hwy), which is another thing that is sure to improve when the Santa Fe is redesigned. But just because it's not actually very sporty doesn't mean that driving the Santa Fe is a joyless affair. With a comfortable ride, and available AWD, the Sport hits the sweet spot between comfort, utility, and drivability.

  • Conclusion

    In the ever-more-crowded world of crossovers and small SUVs, automakers must choose which segment of the population to cater to. Hyundai has chosen the comfort-seekers, and rewards them with a crossover that's every bit as roomy and luxurious as others costing twice as much.

  • Specs & Prices

    Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, on-demand all-wheel drive

    Power Output: 264 hp / 269 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 18 city / 24 highway

    Base Price: $33,000

    As Tested: $38,350 (incl. $875 destination)

    Available Features:
    Ultimate Package: 19-inch alloy wheels, HID headlights, LED taillights, panoramic sunroof, navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen, 12-speaker Infinity Logic 7 audio system, integrated memory seats, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, rear parking assistant sensors, heated steering wheel, premium door sill plates, ultimate liftgate badging.

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