2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

The automotive world doesn't get much more competitive than the compact crossover class, but even amid impressive rivals, Hyundai's recently redesigned Santa Fe Sport stands out. Scads of interior space and a pair of puissant powertrains distinguish the five-passenger soft-roader (which is also offered as the seven-passenger, midsize Santa Fe), as does a ritzy cabin that wouldn't look out of place in a premium model.

Recent Changes
The Santa Fe Sport benefits from a range of new options for the latest model year, including a blind spot detection system, a rear parking assistance system, HID headlights and LED taillights, ventilated front seats, rear side window sunshades and memory front seats. 2.0T models also get new 18-inch wheels.

Overview
These days, most "compact" crossovers belie their segment nomenclature with generous exterior dimensions, and the nearly midsize Santa Fe Sport only advances that trend. Inside, it's especially roomy, with plenty of space for both front and rear occupants along with 35.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. Fold the rear seats down, and there's a generous 71.5 cubes to be had.

The cabin also boasts plenty of high-quality materials in addition to Hyundai's distinctive "pinched" center-stack design, with both elements conspiring to create a contemporary and classy ambience. All Santa Fe Sport models come standard with the automaker's Blue Link telematics service, which offers voice-activated text messaging, point-of-interest web search download, automatic collision notification, remote start, restaurant and gas station search capability, maintenance reminders and more.

Performance and Handling
The Santa Fe Sport can be spec'd with the buyer's choice of two engines, both of which team with a standard six-speed automatic transmission.

The entry-level motor is a 2.4-liter direct-injected four-cylinder that produces a class-competitive 190 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at 21/29 city/highway mpg with standard front-wheel-drive and 20/26 mpg with optional all-wheel-drive. Those figures mean the base engine Santa Fe Sport is significantly less efficient than many rival crossovers.

Those looking for more get-up-and-go power can opt for a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which pumps out 264 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. It returns 20/27 mpg with FWD and 19/24 with AWD.

Both engines are rated to tow up to 3,500 lbs.

On the handling front, the Santa Fe Sport is the first non-luxury crossover to offer a torque vectoring system. Dubbed Torque Vectoring Corner Control, it's included as part of the AWD system and reduces understeer by braking the inside rear wheel in turns.

The 'ute also offers driver selectable steering system, which offers three operating modes (comfort, normal and sport) with varying degrees of steering resistance.

Overall, the Santa Fe Sport provides composed and responsive -albeit not highly engaging - driving dynamics.

Trim Level Breakdown
The Santa Fe Sport is available as an eponymous base model and the 2.0T.

The base model comes standard with the 2.4L engine in addition to power windows and locks, A/C, keyless entry, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM stereo system with USB and AUX inputs, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, Hyundai's Blue Link telematics system, LED front accent lights, LED brake lights and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The 2.0T adds the turbocharged motor, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a proximity key, push-button start, an electroluminescent gauge cluster with color LCD screen, twin-tip chrome exhaust, heated side mirrors, front fog lights, automatic headlight control, roof side rails, a blind spot detection system, HID headlights, LED taillights and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Three options packages are available - the Popular Equipment package (base model only), the Leather and Premium package and the Technology package.

The Popular Equipment package brings heated mirrors, heated side mirrors, front fog lights, automatic headlight control, roof side rails, a power-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and windshield wiper de-icer. The Leather and Premium package (requires Popular Equipment package) adds leather upholstery, a power-adjustable passenger's seat, heated, sliding and reclining second-row seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 4.3-inch touchscreen display on the dashboard, an electroluminescent gauge cluster with color LCD screen, a rearview camera, a proximity key, push-button start, heated exterior mirrors, blind spot detection, rear parking sensors and an auto-dimming interior mirror with HomeLink and compass. The Technology Package (requires previous two packages) brings a navigation system with an eight-inch touchscreen, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, a ten-speaker Dimension premium audio system, ventilated front seats, memory functionality for the front seats, and manual rear-window sunshades.

Occupant Safety
All Santa Fe Sport models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag, stability and traction control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.

Key Competitors
Rivals to the Santa Fe Sport and numerous and well-credentialed. The Honda CR-V offers a high level of practicality and numerous standard features; the Ford Escape impresses with efficient EcoBoost engines and available technology features; and the Mazda CX-5 is the sports car of the segment, providing agile and engaging driving dynamics.