More, Please: One of the biggest upgrades is the ability to make more Sports
One of the most important features of the updated 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is the ability to get one. A new face and additional technology that will attract more buyers are somewhat moot when the automaker is already struggling to meet demand of the current model.
Hyundai is adding production of the two-row Santa Fe Sport model in Montgomery, Alabama, alongside the Sonata and Elantra. The Sport is also built at Kia‘s Georgia plant that makes the Sorento and Optima.
David Zuchowski, president of Hyundai Motor America, has said he could sell more Santa Fe Sports—which competes in one of the hottest segments in the North America—if he had a bigger allotment for the U.S. The automaker sold 86,433 Sports last year, and Zuchowski said demand could be in the 125,000 range for the third generation of the vehicle that quickly became a best-seller when it was first introduced.
The automaker is hoping the mid-cycle upgrades to the Santa Fe family, the two-row, five-passenger Sport and the three-row, seven-passenger Santa Fe that replaced the Veracruz, will increase demand.
Hyundai spent about $50 million USD to retool the Alabama plant to add Sport production this summer. Capacity in Alabama stays at 400,000 vehicles a year, but Hyundai would rather allocate about 30,000 of it to the profitable Santa Fe, especially with slower car sales in today’s world of low gasoline prices.
For 2017 the Santa Fe lineup has a redesigned front fascia and new headlight design as well as upgrades to the rear fascia with new taillights. For the first time LED daytime running lights and foglights are available on some models.
Engines are unchanged with a continuation of the 2.4-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder engine with 185 horsepower or the turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 240 horsepower. There is no V-6 offered in the Sport, but the three-row Santa Fe has the 3.3-liter Lambda II V-6 with 290 horsepower. All are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
For 2017, all powertrains now offer new drive mode selection with a choice of Sport, Eco, and Normal settings. And the estimated fuel economy improves by 1 mpg across the lineup.
The mid-cycle refresh includes a new design for the 17-, 18-, and 19-inch alloy wheels.
And like every refresh, there is new technology including a new 7-inch touchscreen with Android Auto that is standard in the three-row Santa Fe and optional in the Sport. Also available: an Infinity audio system.
Next-generation Hyundai Blue Link is standard on the Santa Fe. The embedded system makes it possible to offer remote start and door lock and unlock, provide navigation guidance, and help recover stolen vehicles.
On the safety side is a host of new features with a new multiview camera system, cruise control with stop-start, lane departure warning, an electronic parking brake system with auto-hold, and automatic braking with pedestrian detection.
Hyundai says a quarter of the parts on the Santa Fe Sport are new for 2017. The 2017 Santa Fe is arriving in dealerships now. Pricing starts at $26,245 USD for the FWD Sport with the 2.4-liter; the Limited AWD Ultimate starts at $42,045 USD.