2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

This totally new version of Santa Fe, the crossover which helped put Hyundai on many shopping lists, looks much more upscale than its predecessor, whether in 5-passenger Sport guise or the forthcoming model that has a 3rd row. Its mature detailing and athletic stance are complimented by a very attractive interior of generally high quality materials and an incredible amount of standard or available high tech options.

Highlights on the test vehicle included a panoramic roof, heated seats and wheel, a clear and intuitive infotainment/nav system and something called Hyundai BlueLink, which, amongst other things, allows you to open or close doors or remote start the Santa Fe Sport via a smartphone app. All seats are roomy and comfortable, and cargo room is generous. Noise is generally well suppressed, helping imbue the Hyundai with a pleasing refined demeanor.

Its ride quality bolsters this, with a commendable ability to deal with most surfaces blemishes. Despite its name, the Sport definitely doesn’t lean in that direction dynamically, with sloppy handling and limp-wristed electric steering assist that—despite three available weight settings—never connects the driver to proceedings.

The Hyundai’s powertrain reinforces its feel as more of a Lexus than BMW competitor, with smooth, linear thrust from its 2-liter, 264hp turbo and syrupy six-speed automatic. Best avoided is the other, normally-aspirated, 4-cylinder engine, which doesn’t have the grunt to move the Santa Fe Sport here in the Rockies. Fuel economy ratings for the 2.0T are very good at 19/24, but real world numbers come in lower. Despite this, the latest Hyundai crossover is a compellingly mature product that serves up compelling looks, great tech and plenty of practicality in an affordable package.

EPA ratings: 19/24mpg
Price as tested: $35, 925
Here is what Hyundai has to say about the Santa Fe Sport.