$18,543 - $30,620

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Performance Review


Performance: 8.1

For the most part, the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (the smaller 2-row version) feel composed and comfortable. There are no trailblazing performance traits here, but you won't find any glaring shortcomings either. Though the base engine in the Sport is a bit too mild, both models are fuel-efficient and have respectable handling. A more powerful engine is available in the Sport and standard in the 3-row Santa Fe.

  • "It's not as sporty as its name implies, but the Santa Fe Sport is still a decent-handling crossover. Body roll is well-controlled, and it showed good poise through turns, even if it doesn't have a ton of grip. You can have some fun hustling it along twisty roads." -- Edmunds
  • "While Mazda's CX-9 may have set a new standard for 7-passenger SUV handling, the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV isn't far from this benchmark." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Most of all, the Santa Fe is easy to drive, car-like and comfortable, but it's not unsettled when driven hard. No one buys a three-row SUV expecting a sports car, but, for this class, the Santa Fe offers confidence-inspiring handling with restrained body motion and lean. Braking is firm and linear, and steering offers reasonable — though not outstanding — feedback." -- Cars.com (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The Santa Fe Sport comes standard with a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain is a bit on the lazy side, but a snappier 240-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is available and delivers extra oomph when you need it for merging or towing. Fuel economy is nearly identical: The base engine gets 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, while each rating drops by 1 mpg with the turbocharged engine.

Only one powertrain comes in the 3-row Santa Fe: a 3.3-liter V6 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Test drivers say the 290-horsepower Santa Fe has a commanding amount of power and peppy acceleration. This powertrain gets an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

  • In front-wheel-drive models, the SUV's 290-horsepower 3.3-liter V6 feels exceedingly powerful, but with good throttle response, smooth pickup and strong acceleration. The heavier all-wheel-drive Santa Fe models, however, could do with some more low-end grunt to get moving. The Hyundai's 6-speed automatic transmission isn't exactly state-of-the-art. Most of the Santa Fe's competitors have transmissions with more gears. Still, it works well enough, providing clean, easy gear changes and prompt downshifts when you need them." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The turbocharged four-cylinder pulls strong at higher speeds. In testing of a 2017 240-hp 2.0T, we measured a zero-to-60-mph time of 7.4 seconds, which is about average for a small crossover with an upgraded engine." -- Edmunds
  • The Santa Fe Sport's optional 240-horsepower, turbo four-cylinder lends vigorous passing power if you really get on the gas, but it's a buzzy engine that feels punchiest at higher revs, not off the line. A lag-free accelerator and responsive six-speed automatic help things along, but I'd like more low-rpm power. Despite the engine's claimed low-end torque, the SUV lacks the immediate thrust of bigger-engine rivals." -- Cars.com (2017)

Handling and Braking

Every Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport comes standard with front-wheel drive, along with the option to upgrade to all-wheel drive. This SUV feels composed on the highway, and while it blocks out most road noise, its suspension feels too firm for some.

  • "The Santa Fe's suspension settings permit confident cornering devoid of excessive sway while simultaneously avoiding too harsh a ride." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The ride is on the firm side for the class. The suspension has an unrefined feel to it, and big bumps can unsettle the vehicle. Smaller highway pavement ripples cause a bouncy effect, translating to vibrations entering the cabin." -- Edmunds
  • Some of the more treacherous potholes of New York and New Jersey did have the backside bouncing, but overall, the smooth suspension, surprising agility and noise blocking abilities of the Santa Fe brought a welcomed tranquility to big city driving." -- New York Daily News (2017)

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