If this 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport looks familiar it is done so by design, literally. Hyundai employs the “Fluidic Sculpture” theme in all its vehicles and our recent Santa Fe Sport CUV tester had us feeling a bit of déjà vu all week back to the all-new Tucson we recently visited with.
The Santa Fe lineup is actually two vehicles – the three-row Santa Fe (that replaced the short-lived Veracruz) and the two-row Santa Fe Sport that we recently spent a week with. Both models feature similar offerings in powertrain and amenities with the interior occupant assignments (and external dimensions) being the distinguishing factors between the two.
What is surprising in recent years for both Hyundai and Kia is how well new models are being received with some folks exclaiming they may be the best designed on the market today. If my mom’s reaction is any indicator of the story of Hyundai’s history it was summed up with her impressions when we picked her up the other day – “This is a Hyundai? I thought Hyundai’s were cheap and crappy?” No on both counts, mom.
I mentioned the déjà vu, as this Santa Fe Sport, on the third-generation platform for the model, seemed very similar to the Tucson. I had to look up the specs for each and I discovered the Santa Fe Sport is only a couple of inches larger in each direction over the new Tucson crossover. Hyundai offers three engines in the Santa Fe Sport and the vehicle can be configured in front or all-wheel drive. Our recent tester arrived in the FWD 2.0T version with the “T” signifying – you guessed it – Turbo!
This engine is the 2.0-liter Theta II turbocharged four cylinder that features direct injection and turbocharging for a very responsive driving experience, even when carrying several adults. Power is rated at 264 ponies and 269 lb. ft. of torque. And this new engine features better fuel economy than the previous version as well, in the form of 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway according to the EPA. All Santa Fe models feature a six-speed automatic transmission, regardless of engine. It features the SHIFTRONIC manual control along with Hyundai’s Active ECO system for greener driving. I never drove in this latter mode as the air conditioning would not keep up with the demands of 100-plus degree days and a black interior.
The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is very comfortable and quiet but does not go the extreme of boring or sedate. Thanks to the turbo engine and other technologies like the Driver Selectable Steering Mode, drivers can still find a little bit of fun in the daily commute or weekend getaway.
Santa Fe features all of the latest infotainment and safety technology offered by Hyundai including vehicle stability management with traction control, airbags everywhere, downhill brake control and hill start assist, and blind spot detection and rearview camera along with rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist. The Ultimate package on our tester added the likes of panoramic sunroof, navigation with 8-inch touchscreen, Infinity Logic 7 surround audio system, ventilated front seating, 19-inch alloy wheels, proximity key entry with pushbutton start, and hands-free smart liftgate with auto open.
Pricing for the 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe begin at $24,950 with our recent FWD 2.0T tester arriving with a final sticker of $36,600.
Hyundai’s new crossovers are proving the automaker wants to not only have a presence in the US market but make a real impression as well. New designs and updated technology combined with greatly improved driving experiences will have Hyundai reaching that goal very quickly and once they rid consumers of old stigmas toward the brand the sky is the limit. With vehicles like this new Santa Fe Sport it is obvious Hyundai is well on its way toward achieving that goal.