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Test Drive: 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, a five-passenger sport-utility vehicle, comes in two trim levels and has two engine choices: a 2.4-liter engine in the base model and a more powerful 2.0-liter engine as an option in the base model and standard equipment in the limited models. The Santa Fe can be ordered in front- or all-wheel drive. My road test was in the Santa Fe Sport 2.0 liter turbo Ultimate edition with all-wheel drive.

On the road, the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine developed 240 horsepower, nearly 65 horsepower more than the V-6 engine in my personal vehicle. This translates into a vehicle that has no trouble merging with fast-moving traffic or passing a slow-moving truck. The six-speed automatic transmission shifted smoothly, although sometimes it felt like it wasn’t in the correct gear. Fuel economy is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. During my road test, which had more highway than city driving, I averaged 22.8 mpg. The ride was smooth and comfortable, with only the worst bumps and potholes causing the midsize SUV to become unsettled.

Handling was as expected for a SUV, with a certain amount of body roll on fast turns. The steering was light to the touch and not too artificial at highway speeds. The all-wheel-drive system had a differential lock for handling deep snow or off-road travels.

The interior of the Santa Fe – especially in my Ultimate trim level – is very nicely done. The front seats were multi-adjustable and should fit drivers of all sizes, but I got a bit uncomfortable after 90 minutes of driving. The instrument panel is thoughtfully laid out, with the combination of a touch-screen display and a mix of knobs and buttons. This Santa Fe Sport has plenty of luxury touches: heated leather seats with memory settings, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, a hands-free liftgate, multi-view camera system and a huge panoramic sunroof.

My test vehicle also had smart cruise control and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. I found all the systems worked as advertised. The smart cruise control did a great job of controlling the vehicle’s speed, right down to a stop. The automatic braking system should help with those daydreaming moments, while the blind spot monitor kept false alarms to a minimum. Add these features to the adaptive headlights with automatic high beams and you can’t ask for much more.

The bottom line: The fit and finish on the latest Santa Fe Sport from Hyundai are as good as any vehicle on the market today. Add in a generous cargo area, an extensive list of standard and optional features, and a great warranty and the Santa Fe Sport is sure to please.

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