By Cars.com EditorsDecember 1, 2016
About the video
For 2017, Hyundai updated the five-seat Santa Fe Sport with some important safety improvements and a few styling changes. Let's see if that was enough to compete for shoppers' attention against other midsize SUVs.
(car engine revving) For 2017 Hyundai updated the five seat Santa Fe Sport with some important safety improvements and a few styling changes. Let's see if that was enough to compete for shopper's attention against other mid-size SUVs.
Now the most significant visual update for 2017 involves the Santa Fe Sport's lower front bumper here. Check out these sort of silver brackets that frame it. A little more going on there technically with the fog lights as well. Still a very sleek looking SUV though. Check out this beltline, it kind of sweeps up your toward the C Pillar, the top of the window frames, kind of descends a little bit there. A very aggressive look from the side. Now unfortunately, that does diminish some visibility. You look at those second row windows, they sort of get a little bit smaller as they go back toward the rear quarter windows, which themselves are pretty useless. So, a significant blind spot, a price you have to pay for the look. Now Hyundai redesigned the center stack for 2017 with somewhat better usability, but I wish the automaker had improved cabin materials a little bit, wafer-thin seats and just an abundance of cheap hard plastic really kind of falls behind other SUV's in this segment with some pretty classy interiors. Ones like the Kia Sorento or the new Ford Edge or Nissan Murano. Now one thing the Santa Fe Sport does well is open storage. A lot of mid-size SUV's have plenty of enclosed storage, but for sheer convenience of accessibility, nothing beats a big old tray, and ahead of the gearshift here Hyundai has just that. You can fit in things like keys, wallet, cell phone, parking transponder, bug spray, sunscreen, first aid kit. Okay, we have too much stuff. That practicality extends to the cargo area of the Santa Fe Sport, where there's a lot of space actually underneath the cargo floor itself from back here all the way to up here. Well divided as well. Kind of cool if you wanted to leave this up and use it for groceries, other stuff like that. Now the second row seats, they move forward and backward, they don't just recline. That's where in the segment, another rarity, the center seat folds down. So, it's actually a 40/20/40 split folding rear seat, instead of the 60/40 seat you usually get, that means you can put skis or other long narrow items through and have passengers on either side. Now, the seats fold down from the cargo area with these release handles here, pretty convenient. But, if they're scooted forward at all, there's going to be a gap in the cargo area floor here. Some SUV's mitigate that with flaps that kind of flip forward. Now the Santa Fe Sport handles pretty well, reasonably quick steering, not too much body roll, but it only comes with a four cylinder engine, either a normal or turbo four-cylinder even with the turbo engine, there's enough power, but you really have to keep the revs high to get the most out of it. And it doesn't sound terribly refined, kind of gets a little buzzy as you're getting up there. We've also noticed a significant amount sometimes, of accelerator lag, right from a stop as you're getting on it, there can be a little bit of lag. It's very noticeable, noticeable, even in the drive terrains sportiest modes. I wish Hyundai would get rid of that as well as think about putting in the big 3.3 liter V6 from the three row Santa Fe, that's a pretty good engine, unfortunately not offered in the Sport. All that practicality joins a few other fundamentals in the Santa Fe Sports favor, a strong warranty, pretty good track record for the current generations, reliability and improved crashworthiness for the 2017 model year. Indeed the Santa Fe Sport may be a very logical choice, but not a very emotional one. It's not particularly fun to drive or nice to sit in or even all that comfortable necessarily. And so that's where the Santa Fe Sport, even after this refresh is starting to show its age. It might be good for Hyundai to hurry up on a full redesign.