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2018 Hyundai Sante Fe Sport SUV Road Test Review

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport SUV
Tough but Tamed

Solid. Sturdy. Smooth. Strong stance. Squarely planted on all fours on straight-away's, freeways and sinewy mountain roads. These are the things that came to mind when test driving the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport SUV. It felt powerful yet splendidly safe in every turn; as if it were my own personal bodyguard when out, about and alone on the road. It felt tough but tamed.

Cars make us feel something. Different cars for different people. For some, it’s just a set of wheels to get us from point A to point B. For others, the design and technology of today's cars, such as automatic braking, advanced safety features, and eyes on all sides to warn if someone or something is in our path, has become so personalized that they feel like our own personal robots inside the outside world.

Named Family Car of the Year by Cars.com, the 2018 Santa Fe Sport is the perfect sport utility for the busy, active family. It’s large enough to fit four adults comfortably or a family of five with young kids, with plenty of cargo space for your stuff, their stuff and the dog. To boot, Hyundai has one of the best, if not the best group of warranties in the industry starting with 5 year/80,000-mile vehicle warranty plus 10 year/100,000-mile power train warranty plus 5 year/unlimited road side assistance warranty, to name a few. Yes, there are more.

If Hyundai is so confident in their vehicles that they’re willing to include multiple warranties on multiple things then that alone should inspire buyer confidence. Hyundai is not only here for the long haul but they’re also willing, able and ready to back their vehicles above and beyond industry average. Taking a long road trip or heading into the woods for a camping trip should leave no worries about getting stuck along the way. Hyundai’s multiple warranty cavalry is only a phone call and a GPS track away.

To inspire even more confidence, the government has issued an overall 5 star safety rating on the new 2018 Santa Fe Sport 2.0T SUV… which means it passed with flying colors in frontal crashes as well as side-impact crash tests for both front and rear seats.

All of that is useless though if you and your passengers don’t buckle up. Without buckling up, there are no guarantees. In a crash, whatever’s not buckled down becomes a missile including your kids and dog, flying through windows and breaking glass like a wrecking ball. So lead by example, buckle up. Note - the only survivor of four people in Princess Diana’s car on that fateful night in 1997 was her bodyguard, the only one wearing a seatbelt. The three other passengers, including Princess Di and her fiancé, Dodi Fayed, died on impact. They did not have on their seatbelts.

Our Serrano Red Santa Fe Sport average MPG was based on city and freeway driving. Fuel economy is fluid as it depends on how you drive, the speeds at which you drive, and the weight inside, on top of, and/or behind the vehicle. Our test model had an average fuel economy of 23 MPG city, and highway at 27 MPG. However, if you’re a leadfoot, you will get less as speed sucks up fuel at a faster rate. If towing a boat, trailer or camper, the additional weight will also siphon your tank sooner.

Additionally, driving up and down mountain terrain reduces MPG so if taking a trip into barren land for an off-road adventure or camping under the stars, plan your fuel stops along the way accordingly. Perhaps even carry a spare gas container in the event your journey takes you further than expected. Expect the unexpected. Getting lost is always an unintended consequence as well. So, be prepared if going up the country, uptight and out of sight.

I’m a safety nut so of particular interest were the Santa Fe’s safety features and they did not disappoint. Our test model came equipped with Vehicle Safety Management with traction control, front and front side impact curtains, and driver’s knee air bag. Hopefully, you’ll never need any of these things but live by the rule of ‘you never know.’ They’re best to have and not need than to need and not have. Consider them an insurance policy for your maximum protection in an accident in which case, your fault or not, you'll be instantly surrounded by the protection of firm pillows, which are intended to shield your flesh and bones from being pierced by pillars. The punch of a pillow is far better than a slice of steel through your sternum.

I personally am the recipient of a pillar pounding and offer living proof that if you do survive such an impact, you will spend the rest of your natural life in a pain management doctor’s office. If you’re lucky enough to survive, the damage to your body and spirit will be permanent and come back to haunt you in ways you can’t imagine. To this day, my right shoulder is two inches lower than my left as the result of a head-first frontal impact with a window pillar in the other driver’s car. It’s no way to fly.  

2018 Sante Fe Sport Interior ViewOur 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe came with so many creature comforts that there’s not enough room in this review to list them all though I will say there is enough room in the Santa Fe, impressive amounts of room, head room, leg room, cargo space for all sorts of stuff, camping gear, sports gear, kids and pets. It's one of the roomiest SUVs in its class, which means comfort and fun for families who enjoy long road trips. And to quell the kids fighting in the back seat, the Santa Fe sunroof exposes a sense of vast openness which may keep the rugrats counting crows instead of clobbering each other.

The Santa Fe has a far better memory than most humans. It remembers favorite seating positions and radio stations (including Sirius XM), and side view mirror positions. Of course, I’m a huge fan of any vehicle that offers a Multiview camera system which displays the vehicle’s position in a dash cam setting, which is enormously helpful when parking and backing up. My ability to pull into a parking spot straight-on has slightly diminished over the years; can’t seem to park evenly between the lines anymore on the first try, unless it's an angled spot. Perhaps because I’m vertically challenged at 5' tall, my 360 view isn’t as well rounded as that of someone a foot taller. Though ironically, I can still back into any space perfectly straight without much effort no matter how tight the spot. It appears my backup neurons still spark brightly. Go figure.

Not for nothing, the Multiview dash cam solves multiple driver challenges as it displays a 360 degree view of the Santa Fe from what appears to be a bird’s eye view. This nifty little feature is in perfect harmony with a driver’s need-to-know and see-all-around view. It allows the driver to see between the lines, in front and rear of the vehicle to avoid kids and curbs, bushes and barriers, or simply being too close to the car next to you. For those with parking issues, the Multiview feature is a must have safety net… and with the Santa Fe Sport, it comes standard.

The cost for our fully loaded 2018 Santa Fe Sport test model was $38,325. Annual fuel cost estimates according to fueleconomy.gov are in the neighborhood of $1600. But once again, it varies depending on how far you drive, how fast you drive, how aggressively you drive, the condition of your tires, and how loaded your car is… but preferably not how loaded you are. If the latter, you can expect your beautiful new 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport to be safely parked in your driveway while you're parked in a jail cell waiting on your DUI trial to begin, thus ruining your spot free driving record and career. So, stay sober, stay safe, buckle up and enjoy your awesome new 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. RTM highly recommends it in its Top 5 SUV picks for 2018! Its kid proof and parent-approved.

For more information and a list of additional features on Hyundai cars and SUVs, click here.

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