By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 8.0
Although it’s designed to challenge compact crossover SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Chevrolet Equinox, many owners consider Hyundai’s Santa Fe Sport for 2016 to play in a more prestigious league. Features such as a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats and a nifty power liftgate that automatically opens upon approach set the Santa Fe apart from lesser competitors, but its sub $30,000 starting price is also further up the price ladder than an entry-level Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Forester. The 5-passenger Santa Fe Sport offers plenty of room for passengers and cargo and even the option of all-wheel drive (AWD), but the base 4-cylinder engine isn’t very powerful or fuel efficient, and even the turbo doesn’t light the tires on fire.
The 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport crossover SUV straddles the line between a midsize and compact SUV. If you’re looking for something a bit larger, more powerful and more luxurious than the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, the Santa Fe deserves long look.
The Santa Fe Sport isn’t the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its segment, and the base engine feels downright sluggish. Those looking for more passenger room should look to the Nissan Rogue, which offers an available 3rd-row seat.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2016, the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport crossover SUV carries over unchanged from the 2015 model, with one exception. The Saddle Brown interior is no longer available.
Most drivers don’t associate crossover SUVs with fun-to-drive characteristics, but the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe might just change a few minds. Although the base 2.4-liter engine doesn’t provide much thrust,...
... the 265 horsepower from the turbocharged 2.0-liter unit significantly increases both acceleration and passing abilities. The Santa Fe’s stiff structure allows Hyundai engineers to tune a suspension that is both capable in tight corners yet compliant over rough pavement. Equip Hyundai’s 2016 Santa Fe Sport SUV crossover with the available all-wheel-drive system, and you’ll get Active Cornering Control with torque vectoring and torque braking that improves traction and stability by sending power to the wheels with the best grip. Hyundai’s done an excellent job keeping exterior wind and road noise from reaching the cabin, another attribute that makes this compact family crossover SUV feel like a high-end luxury crossover SUV.
2.0-LITER TURBOCHARGED ENGINE
Matched to a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic with manual shift mode, Hyundai’s 2016 Santa Fe Sport’s optional 2.0-liter turbo pumps out 265 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque for improved towing, passing and hauling. Fuel economy could be better, but it’s not horrible by any means.
HANDS-FREE SMART LIFTGATE WITH AUTO OPEN
While we think Hyundai could have come up with a better name, there’s no arguing this is one feature we don’t want to live without. Simply approach the rear of the vehicle with the key in your pocket and the hatch automatically opens.
The 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport crossover SUV proves that you don't have to sacrifice user friendliness to have a contemporary interior design. All the controls inside are easy to reach and understand, and everything is constructed with care and high-quality materials. It's also practical, with stain-resistant Yes Essentials fabric or available leather, and a rear bench seat that folds in a 40/20/40 split and is also available with 5.2 inches of fore-and-aft travel and a recline function as part of an option package. Behind the seats is a good-sized cargo space, making the Santa Fe Sport exceptionally flexible.
Hyundai gave its Santa Fe Sport compact crossover SUV a subtle 2-tone treatment to the grille, emphasizing the "Sport" part of the name, and the crossover SUV also gets daytime running lights as standard. Otherwise, the same exterior as last year carries over, and that's fine with us. We like the sharply styled design, with impressive details merging with aerodynamic efficiency that include hidden underbody fairings. Standard equipment on the Sport are 17-inch alloy wheels with 235-65R17 tires, while the Sport 2.0T has 18-inch alloys with 235/60R18 tires as standard and 19-inch alloys with 235/55R19 tires optionally available.
Standard on every Hyundai Santa Fe Sport for 2016 are daytime running lights, a driver's-side blind-spot mirror and auto up/down passenger window to the standard-equipment list. Also standard are air conditioning, cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering column, steering-wheel-mounted controls, remote keyless entry, an audio system that includes HD radio, USB and auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth and Blue Link. Turbocharged 2.0T models get a lot more equipment standard, including most of the base model's Popular Equipment Package, adding roof rails, fog lights, heated mirrors, power driver's seat, heated front seats, push-button start/stop and more. Safety features include stability and traction control, and plenty of airbags.
The base 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport offers the Popular Equipment Package mentioned above, plus a Premium Package that adds leather, blind-spot detection, dual-zone automatic temperature control and other features. The Tech Package includes a panoramic sunroof, rear park assist, navigation with 8-inch touch screen, Dimension premium audio, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats with memory for driver's seat and mirrors, heated rear seats and the Smart liftgate. The only package for Santa Fe Sport 2.0T models is an Ultimate Package, which adds 19-inch wheels and tires, HID xenon headlights, LED taillights, the power tailgate, Infinity sound system, and more.
For 2016 the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport offers a choice of two engines. Standard on the base Sport is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with 190 horsepower; if that's not enough, the 265-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine in the Sport 2.0T should satisfy you. Both engines benefit from modern direct fuel injection and continuously variable valve timing for the optimum in efficiency and power. The only transmission choice is a 6-speed automatic with a Shiftronic manual shift gate, for those who wish to shift for themselves, and is available in either front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), delivering responsive and impressive performance and fuel economy.
190 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
181 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg (FWD), 19/25 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
265 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
269 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg (FWD), 18/24 mpg (AWD)
A front-wheel-drive 2016 Santa Fe Sport crossover SUV with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine carries a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) around $25,850, including the $875 destination charge. The turbocharged Santa Fe Sport 2.0T starts at about the $32,000 mark for a FWD model. AWD adds $1,750 to either model. The Popular Equipment Package adds $1,350 to the 2.4-liter Santa Fe Sport, while the Premium package adds $3,300, and the Technology package adds another $3,500. The Ultimate Package for 2.0T models adds $4,350. Those prices include Hyundai's 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and 5-year roadside-assistance program, and compare well against competitors like the Kia Sorento, Ford Edge and Chevy Equinox. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying, and note that the Santa Fe Sport's residual values are a bit below the Toyota RAV4, but beat the Kia, Ford and Chevy.