Awards SUV of the Year

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport: 2018 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

Well-executed SUV, but lacks excitement

Well-executed SUV, but lacks excitement

We like: Nice interior even for the base model

We don’t like: There’s nothing that stands out

The Hyundai Santa Fe Sport is essentially a short-wheelbase, five-seat version of the Santa Fe. Competing directly against the Nissan Murano and the Ford Edge, the Santa Fe Sport has two engine options and features a two-tone interior.

First, although many automakers send us tarted-up versions of their entries, kudos to Hyundai for having the guts to send a proper base model. Our 2.4-liter tester came with a dual-tone interior composed of cheap, hard plastics and a price tag of $26,310 USD. “Hyundai does a better job than GM of making cheap materials look lush,” Angus MacKenzie said. On the other hand, the Ultimate AWD tester was decently equipped, and we preferred its performance. Frank Markus said its 2.0-liter turbo “makes all the difference in the world,” adding that “it’s much more fun to drive on the winding track, though it’s clear that this isn’t a duty cycle for which it was designed.”

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The Santa Fe Sport’s ride was widely criticized among our judges. Christian Seabaugh said the SUV felt “both floaty and flinty,” and he would like to see a better wheel and tire package. That might help with the NVH issues, especially the cabin intrusion from the Belgian blocks that Mark Rechtin experienced.

Overall, boss man Ed Loh put it best: “It’s a thoughtfully designed, well-executed SUV that lacks excitement. It’s anonymous and anodyne but strong on value.” Although it serves its purpose well, it’s not good enough to be SUV of the Year.

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