We got our first look at the all-new 5-passener 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and its bigger three-row Santa Fe sibling in April at the New York Auto Show. Last week, we had the opportunity to slip behind the wheel of the hottest version of the Sport variant: the 2.0T AWD variant. Slimmed down by some 266 pounds compared to its predecessor and wrapped in evocative bodywork styled using Hyundai's latest "Fluidic Precision" design theme, it matches an even higher visual profile with a more luxurious cabin, upgraded powertrains and new features like Hyundai's BlueLink connectivity and driver-selectable steering effort to enhance its competitive appeal.
While the base Santa Fe Sport is a front-driver fitted with Hyundai's naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter/190-horsepower Theta II GDI 4-cylinder engine, our time was spent in several range-topping 2.0T AWD examples fitted with the automaker's even more potent 2.0-liter turbocharged/direct-injected version that makes a stout 264 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque in this fitment. Teamed with a 6-speed Shiftronic automatic, an enhanced Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system and more performance-tuned suspension, our test vehicles were able to handily dispatch a variety of venues - from twisty two-lane to high-speed Interstate and even a bit of soft-roading dirt work -- in and around the Park City, Utah, area while barely breaking a sweat at the lofty 8,000-foot-plus altitude.
Impressively redesigned and priced between $25,275 for an entry-level Santa Fe Sport and $36,625 for a fully loaded Sport 2.0T AWD, the third generation of Hyundai's compact crossover occupies a sweet spot in a tough field that includes the likes of the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Edge, Kia Sorento and the equally new but yet-unseen 2013 Toyota RAV4. For full details on the complete 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport/Sport 2.0T lineup, check out our full review here.