REVIEW: 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate AWD – The Forgotten Perfect Size

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In a world where crossovers are too big or too small, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate AWD might be just the right size.

What is it? 

The 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate AWD (all-wheel drive) is a five-passenger, two-row crossover.

What makes this vehicle interesting from the outset is that it is larger than a compact crossover like the Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Forester, yet it’s smaller than three-row crossovers like the Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot.

These unique dimensions could make the Santa Fe Sport the perfect-size crossover for many buyers.

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Pricing and trims

Starting in the mid-twenty thousand range and topping out here with the $41K Ultimate trim, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T spans quite a range of budgets.

Hyundai offers a slightly longer version of this vehicle called simply “Santa Fe,” without the “Sport” nomenclature. That vehicle adds a third row and falls closer in size to the now quite large “Midsize” Pilot and Highlander.

If you don’t need that third row, skip it – you might really appreciate the “right-size” aspect of this vehicle. The longer version of this vehicle adds about $5K to each trim level.

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Our $40,820 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate AWD came fully loaded.


IIHS has yet to finish its testing of the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport line. However, it has aced every test so far, and our tester had advanced forward collision prevention and many more safety features. With adaptive LED headlights (that swing side to side) we expect that the 2017 Santa Fe line will be named a Top Safety Pick Plus. We particularly loved that the lane departure warning could be disabled without an annoying dash light to remind us we shut it off. Hyundai seems to have nailed the perfect safety combination with this vehicle.

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This safety equipment about is part of the $1,550 Ultimate Tech Package, and it is well worth the added cost.


It’s your writer’s opinion that Hyundai builds the best 2.0-liter, four cylinder turbocharged engine in the U.S. market. In the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T ULT AWD the company mates it to a six-speed automatic transmission.

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The Santa Fe Sport 2.0T’s drivetrain is perfectly suited to this vehicle’s mission. Power is plentiful. There is no lag in normal driving, and when you want a rush of power for on-ramps, it is there in spades.

Our only question is why the 21 MPG combined EPA rating isn’t higher. Aren’t smaller turbocharged engines supposed to top fuel economy the V6 engines they are replacing? Honda’s larger Pilot crossover also gets 21 MPG and its V6 engine is simply better and stronger. Although to its credit, the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate AWD uses regular unleaded fuel.

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The transmission in the tester typically seemed to be in the right gear, and that negated any need to shift the vehicle using its self-selection option.

Ride and handling

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This Santa Fe Sport Ultimate had a nice ride. We’d say it nearly the match of the base BMW X3, a particularly comfortable crossover. Bumps are handled without drama, and small imperfections are smoothed out.

Like the Toyota Highlander, the more you push this Hyundai, the better it responds. On one long sweeping on-ramp, we were very impressed by the way this Santa Fe Sport felt as we pushed it hard. It seems to hunker down, hug the road, and ask for more.


The heated and cooled front seats of our test vehicle were supportive and easy to adjust.

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Like many Lexus vehicles, the Santa Fe Sport Ultimate’s driver’s seat of the moves back when you shut it off for easy egress. When you enter and start the vehicle, it moves you back to your position. That, and the heated steering wheel impressed us. This “right-sized” crossover also excels in an important way we describe in the short video below.

The Santa Fe Sport Ultimate is simply put a roomy, comfortable place to be. As we see from this manufacturer’s photo, it can also be had in an attractive two-toned treatment.

santa fe sport ult 17

Rear seats are adjustable front to back and for angle.

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Two adults can sit in back with ample room, with plentiful legroom that’s just less than 40 inches, which is typically the domain of large sedans.


The Santa Fe Sport has more cargo capacity than any compact crossover, and it has nearly as much as a three-row model. The Sport’s capacities with the seats up and down are 35.4 and 71.5 cubic feet, and the three-row model adds 5.5 and 8.5 cubic feet to those respective measurements.

Hyundai wisely tucks the spare up under the rear of the vehicle (like the Highlander). This frees up a fantastic storage cubby under the rear cargo floor.

Hyundai almost seems to be cheating with all this extra space packaged in a way that doesn’t make the vehicle huge outside.

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Infotainment and controls

The infotainment is a touchscreen that is easy to operate. I LOVED the Android Auto. This was hands-down the simplest and best infotainment system this writer has yet to test.

A recent VW I tested with Android Auto never worked. It said our Samsung S4 was incompatible. Baloney.

This Santa Fe Sport immediately recognized our phone, and the display of Google Maps was awesome. The surround view camera works both front when pulling into a parking space, and in reverse when backing out. Simply perfect. This system makes every premium crossover with a mouse seem ovely complicated. Pandora and the Hyundai navigation also worked seamlessly.

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Vehicles like this 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T ULT AWD have convinced this writer (and many others) that the true luxury brands are no longer from Germany and Japan. In fact, the opposite is true. Affordable brands like Hyundai have taken over. You get an equally satisfying ride and drivetrain, but much more luxury content in these affordable makes now. Looks are a Hyundai strength, and we thought the colors and style elements made our tester a truly good-looking vehicle.

Having recently test a few German crossovers, I find that the Santa Fe Sport Ultimate is more than competitive. The secret is that this Hyundai is made to function plainly and effectively, without excess complexity.

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Hyundai has a winner with in the Santa Fe Sport Ultimate. Given its content, impressive warranty, and impressive driving characteristics, we’d call $41K for this vehicle a bargain.

Find a 2017 Santa Fe near you using’s local search. Try it!

Test car 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T Ultimate AWD

Base price: $25,350

Price as tested, $40,820 including the $895 destination charge.  


Ultimate Tech Package: $1,550
Smart Cruise Control
Automatic Emergency Braking With Pedestrian Detection
Lane Departure Warning
Electronic Parking Brake
Dynamic Bending Lights
High Beam Assist

Carpeted Floor Mats: $125


  • Perfect Size
  • Excellent Drivetrain
  • Comfort and Ergonomics
  • Spare Tire Under Rear Cargo


  • Why does a $41K vehicle have to add $125 for floor mats?


John Goreham

John Goreham