2017 Santa Fe New Car Test Drive
Significantly freshened, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport compact crossover gets new front and rear fascias, headlights, taillights, and trim panels.
Sharp-looking inside and out, the refreshed 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport fits between the bigger Santa Fe and the smaller Tucson, borrowing a few details from each. We think the Santa Fe Sport is the best-looking member of Hyundai's crossover SUV trio.
Nearly one-fourth of the Santa Fe Sport's parts have changed for the 2017 model year, aiming to refine its cabin and improve ride qualities, though nothing has changed mechanically.
The standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with direct injection developing 185 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. Mating with a 6-speed automatic transmission, the 2.4-liter model is EPA-rated at up to 27 mpg Highway. Though passable for fuel-efficiency, the Santa Fe Sport falls short of gas-mileage estimates for some competitive models. While priced right, the 2.4-liter engine, also used in the Sonata sedan, can feel breathless and overtaxed, especially when carrying passengers.
We recommend the optional turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which yields 240 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. In that installation, the automatic gets slightly different gearing, to help quicken takeoffs a bit. Also shared with the Sonata, the 2.0-liter turbo comes in two trim levels, each adding popular features.
All-wheel drive is available with either engine. In each Santa Fe Sport model, Drive Mode selection has three settings: Sport, Eco, and Normal. Precise handling isn't the Sport's principal talent, demonstrated by less-than-sharp steering feel.
Crash-test scores have been excellent. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Sport a rating of five stars overall, as well as for both frontal and side impacts. Rollover resistance brought a four-star result, which isn't unusual. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Good scores for its crash tests, including the small overlap collision, which simulates hitting a pole or tree. If equipped with optional forward collision warning, with automatic emergency braking, the Sport earned a Top Safety Pick Plus award.
Rearview cameras are newly standard on all 2017 models. Surround-view cameras, lane-keep assist, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control are optional. Restyled for 2017, Hyundai Santa Fe looks sharper than before. The three-row Santa Fe features three rows of seating and is longer than the Santa Fe Sport. As in the past, Hyundai delivers good value with the sizable Santa Fe.
The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe gets new bumpers, and the cabin has been upgraded a bit. A rearview camera has been made standard on all 2017 Santa Fe models. Also new is the 2017 Santa Fe Limited Ultimate trim level.
Two seating configurations are offered, split by trim level. Lower-cost Santa Fe SE and Santa Fe SE Ultimate trim levels contain a second-row bench, for seven-passenger seating. Stepping up toward opulence, Santa Fe Limited and Limited Ultimate editions get a six-passenger layout, making use of captain's chairs in the second row. Cargo space excels with either passenger configuration, though space in the third row is limited, compared to that of its competitors.
All Hyundai Santa Fe models come with the same 3.3-liter V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. The Dodge Durango and Honda Pilot use 8- or 9-speed transmissions, but the Santa Fe's automatic is competent and capable. Developing 290 horsepower, the engine is shared with Hyundai's Azera sedan, but retuned here to produce low-end torque more suitable for a crossover SUV.
Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available, and the latter exacts only a slight penalty in terms of fuel economy. A Santa Fe weighs around two tons and can tow 5,000 pounds. Standard wheels are 18-inch, but Ultimate versions get 19-inch tires.
Viewed from the driver's seat, the dimensional advantage of the three-row Santa Fe over the smaller Santa Fe Sport crossover is clearly evident. Most Santa Fe versions have a power driver's seat. Heated front seating and a power passenger seat can be added as options.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash-tested the Santa Fe, though Hyundai anticipates a five-star overall score. In crash-testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2017 Santa Fe earned mostly Good ratings, for both side-impact and moderate-overlap frontal collisions. The 2016 model suffered a troubling Marginal score on the small-overlap crash-test.
The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport ($25,350) comes with the 2.4-liter engine, cruise control, remote keyless entry, daytime running lights, LED-accented projector headlights, cargo cover, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The AM/FM/SiriusXM/CD player has auxiliary and USB ports, Bluetooth with audio streaming, and six speakers. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.) Optional Premium and Tech Packages add features.
Santa Fe Sport 2.0T ($31,700) upgrades to the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and leather seating surfaces, heated power front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel; dual-zone automatic climate control; hands-free power liftgate; keyless ignition; blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist; 7.0-inch display audio, Blue Link telematics, and 18-inch wheels.
Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate ($36,500) adds a panoramic sunroof, Infinity premium audio with 8.0-inch touchscreen, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 19-inch wheels, HID headlights, rear parking sensors, and surround-view cameras.
All-wheel drive ($1,750) is available on all models. Front-wheel drive is standard.
Seven airbags are standard, including a driver's knee airbag. Hyundai Santa Fe SE ($30,800) comes with stain-resistant cloth seating, second-row bench, 12-way power driver's seat, dual automatic climate control, rearview camera, automatic headlights, Blue Link connectivity, satellite radio, and 18-inch alloy wheels. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
All-wheel drive ($1,750) is available on all trim levels.
Santa Fe Limited ($34,950) adds leather seating surfaces with second-row captain's chairs, electro-luminescent gauges, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-change assist. Santa Fe SE Ultimate ($38,700) has rear parking sensors, surround-view cameras, heated/ventilated front seats, a power passenger seat, 8-inch touchscreen, panoramic sunroof, hands-free liftgate, and 19-inch wheels. Limited Ultimate ($39,400) is similar to SE Ultimate, but with second-row captain's chairs instead of the bench.