When it comes to mid-size crossover SUV recommendations for our readers, the Hyundai Santa Fe almost always makes our short list of vehicles for a consumer to test drive and consider. In one the hotter segments in automotive today, the Santa Fe offers a simplified choice of two very complete, vehicle configuration offerings. The Hyundai Santa Fe customer can choose from a 2-row/5-passenger Santa Fe Sport with two 4-cylinder power plant options or the 3-row/7-passenger Santa Fe with its V6 – both in Front Wheel (FWD) or All Wheel Drive (AWD) based on what meets their need.
Just recently, Hyundai sent us a 2015 model of their 2-row Santa Fe Sport with the 2.0L Turbo power plant and Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) to drive for a week.
For us, empty-nesters for some time now – but very active both in and out of town every week, the 2-row Santa Fe Sport 2,0L Turbo would suit our needs very well. Though the FWD Sport is a perfectly fine performer in almost every driving situation, we have a bias for the enhanced road handling that the All-Wheel Drive with Active Cornering Control (AWD ) provides and would likely buy the Santa Fe Sport as a AWD, but would happily take the FWD.
Santa Fe Sport for 2015
Already a very well regarded mid-size crossover SUV, Hyundai has made a few, and customer focused, changes to the Santa Fe for 2015. Owners will like the convenience of the new Hands-Free Smart Liftgate with AutoOpen that allows driver access to the cargo area by simply approaching the vehicle and, standing within a few feet of the rear bumper, wait for the key fob to open the gate for them.
Drivers will like improvements in the steering and ride of the 2015 Santa Fe Sport. A new electric power steering system uses a 32-bit microprocessor to further refine the feel and responsiveness that also enhances the performance of the retuned SPORT setting in the Driver Selectable Steering Mode system. The suspension is tuned even further for 2015 with increased wheel bearing and lower control arm stiffness up front and a revised layout of the rear suspension and bushings – both improving the lateral stiffness and handling of the Santa Fe.
2015 Santa Fe Sport 2.0L Turbo FWD Basic
Our test Santa Fe Sport came in Mineral Gray with a Black interior. The MSRP for the Turbo FWD is $31,250. It is available with AWD for an additional $1,750. The Santa Fe Sport Turbo FWD comes very well equipped starting with the Turbo power train that produces 264 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque delivered to the road via a well integrated 6-speed Electronically Controlled Automatic Transmission with SHIFTRONIC Manual Shift Mode and Active ECO.
Fuel economy ratings for this Santa Fe Sport Turbo were 19/26 mpg City/Highway with a combined average of 22 mpg. With a 17.4 gallon fuel tank, our Santa Fe Sport Turbo had an expected range of nearly 400 miles.
Exterior features included Automatic Headlight Control, Projector Headlights, Fog Lamps, Power Heated Outside Mirrors, Body Color Bumpers, Two-Tone Chrome Grille, Dark Gray Lower Bodyside Cladding, Solar Glass Windshield and Side Windows, Rear Spoiler, and Roof Side Rails.
Inside were Leather Surface Multi-adjustable Heated Front Bucket Seats with 8-way Power for Driver and 4-way Power for the Passenger. Second Row Seating was a folding 40/20/40 Split Bench. The cabin was Air Conditioned with Automatic Climate Control with Filter and CleanAir Ionizer. Ventilation ducts serves the second row seating. The Santa Fe Sport has Pushbutton Start with relatively simple yet very complete center stack and instrument panel controls and displays.
The 2015 Santa Fe Sport Turbo also includes a Trailer Prep Package that provides a 3,500 pound tow capacity and the new Hands-Free Smart Liftgate with AutoOpen.
Adding the 2.0T Ultimate Package
The 2.OT Ultimate Package (only one available) for the Santa Fe Turbo adds $4,350 to the price. The Ultimate Package upgrades wheels from 17-inch to 19-inch Alloy Wheels and adds HID Headlights, LED Taillights, Panoramic Sunroof, Heated Rear Seats, Ventilated Front Seats, Driver’s Integrated Memory Seat, Heated Steering Wheel, Rear Parking Assistance System and Premium Door Sill Plates.
It also upgrades the Bluetooth enabled and Sirius Satellite Radio infotainment system to include Navigation with an 8-inch Touchscreen and a 550-watt Infinity Logic 7 Surround Sound Audio System with 12 speakers.
With delivery, our 2015 Santa Fe Sport 2.0L Turbo FWD priced at $36,600.
Again in 2015, we found the Hyundai Santa Fe to be an exceptionally road worthy crossover SUV. With the improvements in steering and suspension, it drives and handles even better than before. The Santa Fe Sport is equipped with Vehicle Stability Management with Electronic Stability Control and a Traction Control System. With these features, the FWD on the Santa Fe Sport performs pretty well and effectively negates handling issues that sometimes result from the torque drive of the front wheels at acceleration or when navigating twisting and turning roads. We would add that the 19-inch wheel upgrade in the Ultimate Package also contributes to the road handling ease and ride comfort of the Santa Fe Sport.
We are particularly impressed with the layout of and volume of both passenger and cargo room in the 5-passenger Santa Fe. Front seat headroom is near 40-inches with the second row only an inch shorter. Leg room in front is just over 41-inches with the second row at almost 40 inches. The seating is both comfortable and supportive with sufficient adjustment for all drivers. Particularly, a driver can easily adjust the seat height as needed for good road visibility – which not all competitors do as well.
Not only does it haul people well, but it hauls cargo too – either with its 3,500 pound trailer tow capacity or its almost 1,500 pound payload capacity. The cargo volume behind the second row is a very adequate 35.4 cubic feet and there is storage under the cargo deck as well. With the second row seats folded, cargo volume is 71.5 cubic feet.
Since 2014, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has not only made our short list, but has been recognized by others as well. In 2014 it was named the Family Car of the Year by Cars.com (the 3-row/7-passenger Santa Fe is the 2015 winner). This year, the Santa Fe Sport was named a Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buy for 2015.