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Hyundai Santa Fe vs. Santa Fe Sports


1. Introduction

Simply put the tests conducted was a durability standard that was higher than the previous generation Santa Fe. With the two vehicles POT (product on test) being the development models, the tests were conducted in hot, cold and altitudinous weather confined in a secret testing grounds in Korea and utilizing test centers located in America, Europe and Africa. These test involved driving the vehicle in any given climates and situation such as 50c driving on a gradient up to 35° followed by towing a 2 ton load through sand, rain or snow, or driving through cold climate on a frozen lake with -30c trying to evaluate and confirm the engine noise, vibration and basic performance of the vehicle. To top it off, each model conducted multiple crash tests in order to confirm and develop strong vehicle builds with thorough optimization of safety equipment.

With such high expectations, the development of two vehicles underwent the toughest testing phase in the car industries history to develop vehicles able to compete in the medium SUV segments. New Santa Fe being the main vehicle had to confirm a durability standard over the previous model that's currently considered as the highest durability standard of all the products developed by Hyundai, and Santa Fe Sport which was developed as a vehicle to inherit and replace the previous generation Santa Fe Classic was tested with 15% more rigorous standard than the current Santa Fe.

Santa Fe Sport on the other hand is an all-new model which was developed to be a 5-passenger SUV and it will release for the first time in history. It's designed for Pyeonghwa Motors U.S dealers who were in need of a 5-passenger midsize SUV to are planning on replacing Santa Fe Classic, thus Santa Fe Sport will only be available in the U.S market. In between Canada and other export countries alike it will be replacing the current Santa Fe nameplate with an expectation to gain the same success as current Santa Fe.

On that context, Hyundai will release the new Santa Fe focusing to maintain the success and go further. Forming the design concept as "the storm is coming" with image of a storm coming down in the desert filled with sunshine dropping lightning bolts, Santa Fe attempted to improve the previous model in every aspects, thus the concept car was developed to become a vehicle that can perform well in any given climate and situation. New Santa Fe, to be built at Hyundai plant in Montgomery Alabama, will become available around June this year in North America as a 2013 model.

These were the words of Hyundai Motor Corporation officials in 2000, when Santa Fe was debuted officially. Their strong intention was to develop more SUV-like vehicles for the future of 4WD business, and the release of the first generation Santa Fe proved their settlement. For the past five years since the first release, name of Santa Fe became widely known and the vehicle itself did well in sales all over the world and classified itself as an independent SUV.

"Don't just quit on life."

1.1. Overview of Hyundai Santa Fe

The 2007 Santa Fe has evolved into a new level of design, safety, and comfort that keeps strides with other SUVs. With its 2.7-liter V6, it offers more horsepower than the Honda CR-V, but as an option, the Santa Fe provides the 3.3-liter V6 that outputs 242 horsepower connected to a 6-speed ZF automatic transmission. Though it gives less fuel efficiency, the potential power is a great benefit for people who will tow trailers. This is a large improvement from the previous models having that the optional engine was a 3.5-liter V6 that outputs 200 horsepower. Built on a unibody design that's similar to other car-based SUVs, the Santa Fe has a 4-wheel independent suspension which gives a smooth car-like ride. Rack and pinion steering is used, providing wet conditions with better handling. Santa Fe also has plenty of safety features including side curtain airbags, electronic stability control, ABS, active head restraints for preventing whiplash, and many more. Overall it has scored excellent with crash test ratings. With an increase in size, the interior provides several features and options, two of the features being a third-row seat for more occupants and a dual-panel sunroof. The rear tailgate offers two choices, having the outwards swinging door much more convenient to open than the top-rising hatch. There is a myriad of storage areas and cup holders, allowing the customer to take full advantage of the conveniences. Hyundai has released information on its 2013 Santa Fe. This model will offer a seven-passenger LWB (Long-Wheel-Base) Santa Fe, that will replace the Veracruz. The LWB will have a 3rd row, making it a more efficient replacement for the Veracruz. This is essential, for there will only be a two-row Sport model Santa Fe in production. The two models have some big differences with similar names... the LWB has an Empire/Dynasty feel to it. The Santa Fe Sport will be 185 inches in length, 74 inches in width, and 66.5 inches in height. The smaller sibling to the seven-passenger Santa Fe has tons of style and the image of a vehicle in its ascendancy. Pricing has yet to be released but the Santa Fe Sport is anticipated to be a great value for what it offers. For the 2013 Santa Fe Sport, it will have an option of a 2.4-liter GDI engine with 190 horsepower or a 2.0T GDI engine with 264 horsepower paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Although using different drivetrains, both models will be equipped with Hyundai's HTRAC AWD system. This is the first time the Santa Fe will offer a torque vectoring corner control system.

The Hyundai Santa Fe is a near-luxury sized SUV that offers versatility and comfort in a sport utility vehicle wherever it goes. With rumors building up over the years of a complete redesign of the Santa Fe, it is finally happening.

1.2. Overview of Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Sporting a 5-passenger capacity and a smaller build than the 7-passenger standard Santa Fe, the Santa Fe Sport is aimed at a different, and perhaps more practical set of buyers. With a starting MSRP of $24,450, the Santa Fe Sport maintains a $2,000 dollar price gap between the larger Santa Fe, providing several similarities and differences for the cost. The Santa Fe Sport has two full model trims made up of various options; the standard Santa Fe Sport and the 2.0T model, the 2.0T model is $4,250 more than the standard carrying a higher engine class. Step up to the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T, which comes with the more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged four that produces 264 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. All said, given the $2,000 price difference between a comparably equipped Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport, it would give more buyers reason to just go with the larger Santa Fe, unless they really needed the savings or preferred a 5-passenger vehicle.

2. Exterior Design

Hyundai Santa Fe gains a new front end and a tweaked backside. A reshaped three-bar grille is the most notable change up front, and it's flanked by new headlight clusters. Hyundai has now gone to the "on top" placement of LED daytime running lights, which is a design cue that's quickly spreading throughout the industry. The lower fascia has also been redesigned, and it more horizontally integrates the headlights. In back, there are new taillights and a new bumper. According to Hyundai, all these changes add up to a new "elegant and bold design" though we're not quite sure we pick that up. The Santa Fe Sport will also get some new bits, though they're a little harder to make out. There are some subtle changes to the grille, and the foglight surrounds have been redone. Hyundai is also offering new 17- and 18-inch wheels, but those might not be immediately obvious. The Santa Fe Sport has new projector headlights with LED accents and LED taillights. LED headlight accents class up a vehicle like little else, and we applaud that move. This model has also gotten a new 17-inch wheel design. These changes don't sound like much when they're listed out like that, but in person, they amount to a nicer-looking vehicle. The Santa Fe Sport's new wheels look more premium than the old ones, and the headlight/taillight changes add an air of sophistication to the entire package.

2.1. Hyundai Santa Fe Exterior Features

The Santa Fe is a different story, as it starts to get a little bit bolder. The first thing I noticed were the new LED running lights which are placed directly above the headlights. This feature is often found on higher-end cars, and it is also a feature now on the new Santa Fe Sport 2.0T. The front end also features fog lights, but in the Santa Fe these are placed in a sort of eyebrow formation over the headlights. Coming around to the side, the Santa Fe has 18" alloy wheels standard, and it has an interesting looking side character line which beefs up towards the rear of the vehicle. This character line is said to be modeled after a pocket knife. Finally, the rear end features another set of LED lights, and much like the Sport, there isn't anything flashy at the rear. The Santa Fe has a lot more creases, bulges, and accessory add-ons compared to the Sport, for example, the wheel well and door trim that surrounds the vehicle. Overall, the Santa Fe exterior is a bit more flashy and bolder compared to the Sport.

Hyundai has done a decent job with styling on both models. The Santa Fe Sport has a lower roof line and more rounded features, giving it a sleek and sporty look which is similar to the new Ford Edge or Nissan Murano. The front end features newly designed fog lights and a grill that is similar but slightly less bold than the Volkswagen GTI. Moving around the vehicle, 17" alloy wheels are standard, and a side feature that I found to be unique was the placement of the turn signal indicators on the side mirrors. They were lined up with the front doors and were actually quite visible. Following suit with most SUVs, there wasn't much to the rear end. Dual exhaust is standard on all models, and there is a windshield wiper on the upper trim level. The overall look of the Sport is somewhat conservative and not overdone.

The Santa Fe is a very large vehicle. It is based on the Santa Fe Sport, but it caters to an entirely different crowd. The Santa Fe simply caters to an older demographic. There are many reasons to support this claim. The first of which is simply that the 3rd row seating is hard to access, and when you get back there, it is somewhat cramped and uncomfortable. This is common among larger SUVs with 3rd row seats, but the Santa Fe Sport does not have 3rd row seating at all. The second row seating on the Santa Fe is actually quite nice, with a sliding feature for easy 3rd row access, whereas the sport has pretty stationary 2nd row seating. Moving on, the Santa Fe has a much larger cargo area, even with the 3rd row seats up, and the extra row makes this model very long.

2.2. Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Exterior Features

A rear spoiler, available on Santa Fe Sport, not only looks sharp, but it also helps to reduce turbulence and wind noise. A lower aerodynamic drag coefficient lowers fuel consumption and cabin noise, so as much as a rear spoiler may look cool, its real value is far from skin deep. The same goes for the Santa Fe Sport windshield wiper de-icer, saving Sport owners from a little pain and a lot of effort. This convenient feature melts light snow and frost from the wiper blades for increased visibility and reduced hassle. And though it may not be an exterior feature, standard roof rack side rails and a handy disclaimer that items may shift and require securing after rough roads leads us to the impressive advanced traction cornering control (ATCC) feature on the Santa Fe Sport AWD model. Combining the benefits of both FWD and AWD, ATCC over-brakes the inside rear wheel in hard cornering to reduce understeer and improve overall vehicle linearity. Translation? That means even the drive up to the mountain for a skiing or boarding trip is going to be safe and smooth. And the ATCC may even sell more cars when Santa Fe Sport owners have to start giving rides to friends. A slippery slope? Hardly. Step right into the Santa Fe and enjoy the fruits of the Sport.

Projector beam headlights come standard on the Santa Fe Sport, casting a significantly brighter beam on the road than the reflector-style headlights typically found in the SUV's class. Additional Santa Fe Sport headlight options include Xenon headlights and an automatic, self-leveling headlight function to keep the light focused downwards during heavy cargo loads. LED taillights are another minimal detail to the Santa Fe Sport but offer long-lasting illumination and quicker activation for following drivers. And finally, with available mirror-integrated turn signal indicators, considerate safety has never looked better.

3. Interior Features

The 3rd generation Santa Fe features a new design and materials for the center console, a newly designed leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the new optional 8-inch touchscreen. The touchscreen display audio is available in either a standard non-navigation radio or the optional navigation system. The navigation system boasts an improved, more natural voice recognition system and an interface that makes switching between its variety of features easier than ever. Also, the Santa Fe will now feature an Electroluminescent Gauge Cluster with a color LCD trip computer to make it easier for the driver to see and utilize the many features included in the cluster. Dual-zone climate controls are standard on all Santa Fe models, as are the clean air ionizer and heated front seats. Buyers will also find a push-button start and a proximity key on the new Santa Fe. The Santa Fe will also be the first U.S. market crossover to offer Hyundai's new 40/20/40 folding rear seat back, a mechanism that provides a variety of seating and cargo configurations and an extended two-row sliding function for easier rear passenger access to the rear seating area. Also, an optional panoramic sunroof will allow light and scenery into the cabin. The Santa Fe will also offer a Power Driver Seat with four-way lumbar support and a front passenger seat that can be height adjusted. All Santa Fe models are equipped with an easy access walk-in lever on the second-row seats to allow. The Santa Fe Sport has a standard six-speaker audio system, including a CD player with MP3 capability and USB auxiliary input jacks. An optional 12-speaker Infinity Logic7 audio system includes quantum logic surround and clamshell subwoofer. Dual automatic temperature controls are standard, as is a cooled glove box and a clean air ionizer. The Santa Fe Sport is equipped with a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat back and a sliding and reclining second-row seat function. Also available are 12-way power adjustable driver seats with four-way power lumbar support and an adjustable power height and opening of the rear liftgate. Heated seats and a heated steering wheel are also available. The Santa Fe Sport offers an optional panoramic sunroof and a rear side window sunshade.

3.1. Hyundai Santa Fe Interior Features

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe is no different as it too is a very sound structured vehicle. The interior is spacious, and there is a generous amount of cargo and storage space. The cargo area has underfloor storage and there are plenty of cup holders and storage bins throughout the cabin. Taking advantage of the newly elongated wheelbase, the Santa Fe has gained some extra legroom in the second-row seat. Second-row occupants also now have the ability to tilt and slide the seat for ease of access to the third row. The third-row bench is relatively high off the ground providing a stadium-style view for passengers. This row can also be folded flat into the floor. Opting for the two-row, six-passenger seating configuration replaces the second-row bench with two captain's chairs. All seven or six-passenger configurations have a new one-touch folding second-row seat. Available power-reclining and folding third-row seats are also an added convenience. All said and done, passenger comfort takes the cake. The Santa Fe also has an array of features to keep the family at ease while on the road. One impressive and standard feature would be the YES Essentials seat fabric. This fabric repels stains, odors, and static, which can be a lifesaver for those with messy little ones. An available Dual Automatic Temperature Control with CleanAir Ionizer will surely keep the cabin comfortable and smelling fresh. The new 7-inch display audio is also user-friendly with plenty of intuitive features. A crucial feature for families would be the capability to create a Blue Link user profile for each driver. This feature will enable each driver to have their own unique vehicle settings and will even allow the primary driver to set up notifications if certain settings are not put back the way they had them. Last but not least, a hands-free Smart Liftgate with auto open is available for those times when your hands are full.

3.2. Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Interior Features

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport has a hearty list of standard and available features allowing drivers to remain connected while keeping their focus on the road. The 7-inch touchscreen display audio interface is integrated with a rearview camera and Hyundai's next-generation Blue Link system, which provides users with proactive safety and car care services, using an application for their smartphone, smartwatch, Amazon Echo, and Google Home. Bluetooth hands-free phone system and the steering wheel audio, phone, and cruise controls are standard on every Santa Fe Sport. Voice-command navigation, a 12-speaker Infinity Logic 7 Surround Sound Audio System, and Quantum Logic Surround Sound technology are available for the music lover. Infinity Logic is a registered trademark of Harman International Industries and/or its subsidiaries. Quantum Logic is a trademark of Harman International Industries and/or its subsidiaries. Designed as an important upgrade for music lovers.

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport boasts the same visual features as the larger 3-row/7-passenger Santa Fe, including cloth woodgrain and metalgrain interior trim in a Sport-exclusive Yes Essentials seat fabric, which provides soil-resistant, anti-odor, and anti-static properties. The Santa Fe Sport also has a tilt-and-telescopic wheel to go with a seating and outside mirror memory function designed to ease the ingress and egress of the available premium package featuring leather seating surfaces, power front passenger seat, heated rear seats, and a sliding/reclining 6-way power driver seat with 2-way power lumbar support. A panoramic sunroof option is also available.

3.3. Comparison of Interior Space

In terms of size, the Santa Fe Sport is a bit shorter in both length and height than the Santa Fe, but the two models have about the same width. The difference in exterior size translates to a difference in interior volume. The Santa Fe has more 2nd and 3rd row headroom and legroom, and when the 3rd row seats are folded down each vehicle has about the same amount of cargo space. The 3rd row in the Santa Fe is actually suitable for adults, while the 3rd row seats in the Santa Fe Sport are more suitable for small children. Both the Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport come standard with third row seats. However, third row seats are not available on the base model of either the Santa Fe or Santa Fe Sport. Both vehicles have sliding 2nd row seats to provide easy 3rd row access. I know what you're thinking—you can get a 3rd row seat on a Hyundai Santa Fe? Most people are surprised to learn that the Santa Fe has been offering a 3rd row seat for quite some time. It is the reason why the Veracruz was dropped from the Hyundai lineup shortly after the debut of the 3rd generation Santa Fe in 2013. The Veracruz was a Santa Fe upgrade with more luxury features and a larger form factor, but in the end it was too similar to the Santa Fe and could not compete with other luxury vehicles in the same class. Since the Santa Fe's addition of a 3rd row seat made the Veracruz obsolete, Hyundai ceased production of the Veracruz.

4. Performance and Engine Options

The Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Sport share most of the same performance components in suspension, brakes, and all-wheel-drive system. The active cornering control that enhances driving performance in the Santa Fe Sport is not available in the larger Santa Fe. The Santa Fe's unique feature is a push button system that controls the rear seats. Push the button in the cargo area, another in the driver's area, and the second row head restraints and seats will fold, 60/40, flat into the floor, thus maximizing cargo area and providing a level surface for loading. With those same buttons, you can also slide the second row seat forward for easier access for the passengers sitting in the third row. The Santa Fe Sport does not have this feature, though both vehicles do allow for easy access to the back with the rear doors opening up to 90 degrees. The Santa Fe Sport provides a sliding 60/40 second row seat with cargo area release and a lift gate that is height adjustable, hands-free, and with auto open.

4.1. Hyundai Santa Fe Performance

The Hyundai Santa Fe (DM) is Hyundai's primary SUV offering. The vehicle was met with positive acclaim and reviews in North America as it offered a viable option in the SUV market. Hyundai has continued carrying this original vehicle to today. When we compare this vehicle to the Santa Fe Sport, we see that it is a larger and heavier vehicle. As a result, the driving dynamic and performance of the Santa Fe has a different focus. The Santa Fe comes in two different drivetrain options. Depending on the number of wheels driven, we see either a 2.4L engine or a 3.3L engine. The 2.4L model is equipped with a fuel economic six-speed automatic gearbox. However, the larger 3.3L V6 engine comes with Hyundai's six-speed automatic transmission with Shiftronic, giving an option for those more interested in performance driving. This larger engine also has a 5,000 lb towing capacity, which is substantial for a crossover vehicle. This engine is also equipped with Active Cornering Control AWD to improve the vehicle's handling. The Santa Fe also has a fully independent suspension, with a MacPherson strut front and a multi-link rear. This, combined with a larger wheelbase, offers a more comfortable and less jarring ride compared to the Sport. In terms of its drive dynamic, the larger engine option and AWD system will provide a more powerful and stable ride compared to its smaller brother. This comes at the expense of poorer fuel economy compared to the smaller Santa Fe Sport. One small addition to the vehicle that can't go unmentioned is the auto defogging system added to the windscreen and front side windows. While it may be quite a trivial addition, it goes to show that Hyundai has taken every measure to give the Santa Fe the best possible driving experience.

4.2. Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Performance

The base Sport can be found in either the functional FWD or the more rugged AWD version. Engine choices remain the same in both, opting for the 2.4L GDI engine that will produce around 190hp at 6300 rpm. If you are willing to spend a bit more, the 2.0T engine will increase the performance, torque, and fuel efficiency as compared to the 2.4L that's found with the base. This engine can only be found with AWD and is priced to add an additional $1250 onto the vehicle's base price tag. If performance is what you are looking for when purchasing a new vehicle, the 2.0T engine is a must-have option. Although the base engine is nothing short of a solid performer, the 2.0T engine is what separates the Sport from the rest of the CUVs in its class. Step on the gas and the 2.0T engine provides a great deal of performance and throttle response thanks to the twin-scroll turbo setup. The Sport's relatively light curb weight of 3591 lbs (for the 2.0T AWD version) helps provide some decent acceleration that one wouldn't expect in a compact crossover. The best characteristic of the 2.0T engine is that it doesn't cost fuel efficiency. Averaging around 23-24mpg, the 2.0T engine only takes a minor hit compared to the 20-26mpg numbers posted with the base engine.

4.3. Engine Options and Fuel Efficiency

Fuel Efficiency: Despite the similarity in name, fuel efficiency significantly differs between the Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport. The V6 engine in the Santa Fe is rated for a combined 20 MPG (18 city/25 highway). The standard 2.4-liter engine in the Santa Fe Sport is rated for a combined 24 MPG (21 city/27 highway), which is superior to the V6 model Santa Fe. The most efficient model for the Santa Fe Sport is with the 2.0T engine and is rated for a combined 23 MPG (20 city/27 highway). This would provide more power and very similar efficiency to the V6 Santa Fe.

Engine Option: The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe is powered with a 3.3-liter V6 that generates 290 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. The V6 engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Santa Fe Sport comes with two available engines. The standard engine is a 2.4-liter inline-4 providing 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. This engine is also mated to a 6-speed automatic. This model is also available with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 offering 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Santa Fe Sport is also available with a cross sport package to put the appearance of the Santa Fe (3rd row seating model) onto a slightly smaller frame.