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First Drive: 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe

Since the early millennium, Crossovers have been slowly taking over the automotive market for those who want an all-in-one family vehicle – the Hyundai Santa Fe was one of those SUV’s that started it all. Undoubtedly, consumers have started to take notice to Hyundai’s massive transformation from the cheap Korean wheels to something that has style, quality, and the performance to match. In 2013, the redesign Santa Fe Sport was seen as a massive improvement over its previous generation, and, it’s easy to see why consumers are starting to favor it over the tough competition.

Our tester featured here is the 2.0-liter Turbo with All-Wheel Drive. Adding the 2.0T badge on the back enriches the Santa Fe’s appearance over the base 2.4-liter with chromed fog lights, bigger 19” wheels (part of the Navigation Package), and a dual chrome tip sportier exhaust. Like before, we liked the styling; we find the Santa Fe to be brawny and masculine. The hard curves create a sharp-looking SUV profile, the black body molds are a nice contrast against our Frost White Pearl paint, the LED accent lights are swanky, and the chrome grille adds an amusing bling factor.

With 264 horsepower on tap and 269 lb-ft of torque being delivered to all four wheels, performance was not an issue this time around. Because we have the All-Wheel Drive system, torque steer wasn’t an issue – something you’d expect from a Front-Wheel Drive platform. Connected to a six-speed automatic, there is no sign of turbo lag, there is since of instant boost when you put your foot down.  The transmission is relatively smooth as it revs to a maximum 6,000 rpms; although downshifting can get a little jittery at lower speeds. Straight off the line you can feel the burst of power thrusting you from 0-60 in just less than 7 seconds. And if that gets to hairy for you, the really good anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake-Force Distribution will be sure to stop you from any misbehavior. The great thing to Santa Fe’s AWD is, if you find yourself off the beaten path, the Active On-Demand AWD System will send power to the wheels that require the most traction. However, if landed in a situation that’s designed more for an advance 4×4, the AWD system features a Locking option that can provide equal power to all wheels at the same time – it’s like a fake limited slip differential.

Rolling on 19” wheels, you’d expect to have a bumpy ride – surprisingly no. The Santa Fe has a very solid and smooth chassis. The normal back breaking bumps we encounter on a daily basis went unnoticed from behind the wheel. Depending on your mood, the Santa Fe’s steering levels can be adjusted from “Normal”, “Sport”, and “Comfort.  In most cases, we prefer “Normal”, but in the Santa Fe 2.0T we chose to have our steering set to “Sport”. This allowed a better feel and responsiveness from the wheels. The steering wasn’t too tight for parking maneuverability but tight enough to provide us with a good range of feedback. If left in “Normal” or “Comfort” the steering is light and vague – perfect if you’re someone that is a two finger driver.

Adding All-Wheel Drive to an SUV does impact the fuel consumption. EPA rates the Santa Fe 2.0T AWD at 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway for a combined average of 21 mpg. However, during our week we had a hard time reaching the average barely touching 19 mpg, leaving us with at least a decent range of 350 miles on Unleaded Plus fuel.

Against our glistening Frost White Pearl exterior, the black on black interior was a pleasing transition. The 2.0T provides standard perforated black leather interior with power adjustable and heated driver and passenger seats. Unlike the base 2.4-liter, these seats were really comfortable. Room in the back is plentiful for any passenger and the rear seat can slide and recline if needed. Living in Arizona makes for one notable issue, for its size, the air circulation wasn’t that great for rear passengers, even with the side door air vents.

The dashboard design is a unique attraction that has an abstract feel in its swooping lines and unique material. The overall fit and finish has a fairly good mix of dark silver trims and dark wood accents. Everything is easily within reach and the leather wrapped steering wheel makes for an efficient central command unit – the controls are well laid out and has a comfortable grip with a good range of telescoping and tilting motion. With the addition of the 2.0T badge brings about many standard features including Blind Spot Monitoring, Dual-Zone Climate Control, Rear Manual Sunshades, Infinity Sound System and Proximity Key with Push Button Start.

Since ours tester came with the $1,750 Navigation Package; we had a large 8-inch touch screen display with an excellent high resolution output and fantastic back-up camera with rear cross-traffic alert. The voice activation is close to being top notch and the menus are easy to navigate. The only downside is, the “I Agree” button must be pressed every time you want access to the radio and Navigation; and if your voice command is spoken before the system is ready to receive, the ‘female’ voice over response will scold you like a disapproving mother.

In the end, this 2.0T Santa Fe won us over. It is a fantastic crossover that is smooth, comfortable, quiet and most of all easy to live with. If there was anything we could add to the Santa Fe, we would like to see the sharp-looking side mirrors have a power folding feature and a power-lift tailgate is always a nice option. For consumers looking for a new crossover to park in their garage, the Santa Fe 2.0T makes a good compelling argument.

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD 2.0T: $32,400
Destination: $875
Notable Standard Features:
2.0-liter Turbo – 264 horsepower – All Wheel Drive
Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Leather Interior with Power and Heated Front Seats
Dual-Zone Climate Control
Carpeted Floor Mats: $110
Navigation Package: $1,750
Grand Total: $35,135


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