New & Used Hyundai Santa Fe Sport: In Depth
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The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is a five-passenger crossover SUV that was new in the 2013 model year. Before it was introduced, Hyundai's utility-vehicle lineup consisted of a larger Santa Fe and a smaller Tucson crossover, as well as a three-row Veracruz. The Veracruz was deleted, and the Santa Fe nameplate was applied to Hyundai's largest three-row SUV, while the Santa Fe effectively became the Santa Fe Sport.
Hyundai says it chose to use both versions of the name to capitalize on the Santa Fe's strong sales. It's a bit confusing, but the result is that Hyundai now has a mid-size utility vehicle that's a much better rival for crossovers like the Subaru Forester, Chevy Equinox, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4--as well as the Kia Sorento, a distant mechanical cousin.
MORE: Read our 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport review
When it was introduced for the 2013 model year, the Santa Fe Sport built on the previous-generation Santa Fe's good looks, but adopted more of the deep curves stamped into the then-new Sonata and Elantra, for a more daring look.
And while the longer three-row Santa Fe adopted a six-cylinder-only powertrain, the Santa Fe Sport was downsized to four-cylinders only. A base 2.4-liter four with 190 horsepower was joined by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four with 264 horsepower. Both were offered with a six-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, with available manual-shift mode and an option for all-wheel drive. Electric power steering and an independent suspension gave the Santa Fe Sport commendable road manners, and good fuel economy in the 30-mpg-highway range.
Inside, the Santa Fe Sport adopted some of the best features available on other vehicles in the class. The second-row seat was made available with a sliding function, to flex the space alotted to back-seat passengers and cargo, to a maximum of 35.4 cubic feet for cargo. The back bench also split and folded, and Hyundai packaged some storage space in beneath the Santa Fe Sport's cargo floor.
Base prices for the 2013 model year started in the mid-$20,000 range, and the Santa Fe Sport came with standard power features, air conditioning, cruise control, a USB port and Bluetooth; a rearview camera was an option. A simple to learn navigation system was an option, along with Infinity premium audio and a panoramic sunroof.
The 2013 Santa Fe Sport was one of a set of vehicles found to have overstated fuel-economy numbers, not long after it went on sale. Hyundai's initial estimates of as much as 33 mpg highway for the new ute were lowered, after tests run by the EPA. Owners were asked to register with Hyundai to receive reimbursement for the gas consumed above and beyond expected levels; more details were made available at a specific website, HyundaiMPGInfo.com.