Thursday, December 1, 2016

Santa Fe Sport gets better with 2017 upgrades

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – The Hyundai Santa Fe has long been a dependable multitasker in the Korean automaker’s fleet.

Entry-level, second level, sturdy crossover, peppy sport-utility vehicle. Over the years, the Santa Fe has played all these parts.

But arguably the most pleasant experience I’ve had in the vehicle was a recent week in the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate FWD.  Long name.  Plentiful pleasure.

Hyundai’s engineers swung at the 2017 Santa Fe Sport with both fists, producing an extensively reworked version for the new model year.

The manufacturer says the latest Santa Fe Sport has nearly 350 updated components.

Since “Sport” is in the name, Hyundai tweaked the front and rear fascia to convey a more-aggressive look.  Smartly placed LED lighting and 19-inch alloy wheels worked well on the tester.

All Santa Fe powertrains offer multiple mode selections, enabling pilots to cover a range from dark green mode to let ’er rip.  The tester was equipped with a turbo 4 that made a maximum 240 horsepower.  That was more than enough to tackle the city streets, the daily suburban-urban commute and even twisty uphill climbs.

Steering was firmer than I remember in previous Santa Fe models, a positive thing when taking on mountain roads.

Some price has to be paid for the power curve, of course, so fuel mileage came in at a so-so 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

I’ll admit to being stunned at the long list of standard features on my ride.  The perks included a hands-free smart liftgate, heated seats all around, a multi-view camera system and an easy-to-read 8-inch touchscreen/navigation system.

The tester had an “Ultimate Tech Package” of extras (smart cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and auto-leveling headlights, to name just a few) that helped push the $36,500 starting price to $39,070 on the bottom line.

Hyundai rightly touts a strong safety record on the Santa Fe Sport, topped by a max five-start federal government safety rating.  As usual for Hyundai, the warranties are generous.

I used to tout the Santa Fe as a perfect downtown commuter that was equally useful in doing those endless suburban chores.  My latest experience tells me that it also would be a comfortable road trip warrior, with a generous cargo-carrying capacity.

Overall, this sweetly reworked Santa Fe Sport grades out in the B-plus to A-minus niche.

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