Hyundai makes a bid for the entire crossover market with the Santa Fe and the Santa Fe Sport, as they are riding high on the success of the 2015 model that won such coveted awards as Cars.com’s Family Car of the Year. Last year the suspension and handling were overhauled to great success, making the Santa Fe one of the best handling affordable crossovers money can buy.

Hyundai’s Santa Fe crossover SUV is quite unique in that it is offered in a 5-passenger model (the Santa Fe Sport) and a 6-7 passenger model (the Santa Fe). Apart from differing in their wheelbase, the two cars come with different engine options, but in terms of styling, interior and features they are virtually identical.

With base models coming with a healthy stack of standard features and a few optional packages that you can choose to really drive around in luxury, either the Santa Fe or the Santa Fe Sport should have you covered. So which is right for your family?

Models

2016 Santa Fe Sport

2016 Santa Fe Sport

2016 Santa Fe Sport

Starting at $24,950 for the front-wheel drive and $26,700 for the all-wheel drive, the 5-passenger crossover Santa Fe Sport base trim comes with a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed SHIFTTRONIC automatic transmission. Power steering, Macpherson struts, electronic stability control, traction control, braking assists and driver-selectable steering modes mean the Sport lives up to its name on the road. 17” alloys come as standard, as do a blind spot mirror, chrome accent exterior features and daytime running lights. Inside, the 40/20/20 back seats are cloth, the steering wheel tilt-and-telescopic and a 6-speaker satellite radio system comes as standard.

Three equipment packages are available for the Santa Fe Sport. The Popular Equipment Package ($1,350) is a value-adding option that includes a roof rack, auto headlights, 4-way lumber support power driver’s seat, rearview camera, support for Blue Link telematics (see below) and a 4.3” color LCD touchscreen.

If you’ve got the Popular Equipment Package you can upgrade further with the Premium Package ($3,300) which adds blind spot, rear traffic and lane assist safety aids, leather seats and steering wheel, 60/40 sliding back seats, dual climate zones, proximity key entry, a new gauge cluster and side mirror turn signal indicators.

Finally you can add a further level with the Tech Package ($3,500) which includes a rear parking assistant, 8-inch touchscreen navigation, Dimension sound system, panoramic sunroof, heated seats throughout, heated steering wheel and a driver’s mirror and seat memory system.

2016 Santa Fe Sport 2.0T

2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T

2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T

The $31,250 Sport 2.0T has a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine capable of 265 horsepower. It further differentiates itself from the base Sport by coming with 18” alloys, a roof rack, side mirror turn signal indicators and a hands-free smart liftgate as standard. It also offers the majority of the Sport’s optional safety driver assistance features as standard and comes with a proximity key. The interior sees a big upgrade, with an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, 4-way power-adjustable passenger’s seat, both of which are heated. Blue Link and a 4.3” touchscreen come as standard, and there’s support for HomeLink automatic garage door opening.

Only one upgrade package is available – The Ultimate Package ($4,350). This essentially includes everything from 19” alloys, HID Xenon headlights and new badging, to a panoramic sunroof and 12-speaker Infinity Logic surround sound system. The extra weight does take a slight toll on economy however, dropping a single mpg on the highway.

2016 Santa Fe SE

2016 Hyundai Santa Fe SE

2016 Hyundai Santa Fe SE

Previously known as the GLS, the Santa Fe SE is the first of the larger wheelbase Santa Fes and offers seating for 7 passengers for $30,400. It’s 18” wheels, traction control, remote keyless entry and safety aid features puts it on a par feature-wise with the Sport 2.0T.

Upgrade with the Premium Package ($3,750) for a feature set resembling the Limited (see below), while retaining the 7-seater arrangement. Double-down with the Ultimate Package ($3,800) for a feature list comparable to the Sport 2.0T with Ultimate Package.

2016 Santa Fe Limited

2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited

2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited

Somewhat paradoxically, choosing the Santa Fe Limited ($34,500) reduces the maximum passenger count from seven to six, as the second row of seats are replaced with captain’s chairs. It’s a much more comfortable ride for those six passengers though, with leather trim throughout, power passenger seat, power liftgate, 19” alloys, color LCD display and a full complement of safety features.

READ  2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

A single upgrade option is the Limited Ultimate Package ($4,650), which will give you heated seats, a panoramic sunroof, HID Xenon headlights and powerful 12-speaker 550w Infinity Logic 7 sound system.

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport at a Glance

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport at a Glance

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport at a Glance

Despite the multiple engine choices, wheelbases and interior setups, finding the right Santa Fe for your needs is relatively easy:

 

Exterior

Hyundai’s “Storm Age” design has been evident in the Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport since its introduction in 2013, proving so popular that now it’s been replicated throughout Hyundai’s offerings. Of particular note is perhaps the Santa Fe Sport – while being significantly larger than Honda’s CR-V or Toyota’s RAV4 it comes in at roughly the same price point, making it a very tempting choice.

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport Exterior

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport Exterior

Interior and Practicality

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport Interior

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport Interior

The Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport have perhaps the nicest interiors in the affordable crossover bracket. Quality of materials, even in the base trims, is well above that of the competitors at the same price point.

A spacious cabin is the hallmark of the whole range. Headroom, legroom, shoulder room and hip room remain the same for both the Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport.  Even the shorter Santa Fe Sport offers an excellent 35.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the back seat, and this increases to 71.5 cubic feet with the rear seat down.  The Santa Fe version gives you a little more in total – 13.5 cubic feet behind the third row, 40.9 with the third row down
and 80.0 with the second and third rows down.

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Limited Folding Seats

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Limited Folding Seats

Technology Features

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Technology Features

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport Technology Features

With the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport you don’t have to sacrifice modern features even at the excellent price point. Never struggle for your keys with overflowing arms ever again with the Smart Liftgate which opens your rear hatch when you’re within three feet with the Proximity Key. Let your entire car ride in comfort with backseat climate control. The extra touches with the consumer in mind also include a 115-volt AC power outlet for on-the-go charging, and Bluetooth connectivity across the board.

Santa Fe and Santa Fe AC Power

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport AC Power

The future today exists with Hyundai Blue Link, which collects performance data every month and allows for an automatic emergency notification sent out to quicken emergency response times in the case of a crash. Blue Link remote technology also means you can lock, unlock, and start your car all from a remote app available on both iOS and Android platforms. You can even find your car if it’s stolen as an added security measure.

An optional navigation system keeps you on course and can be updated via an SD card, show you speed limits on-screen to keep you at a safe pace, and allows you to uses voice commands to keep your eyes and hands where they matter most.

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Navigation

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport Navigation

Safety Features

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Airbags

Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport Airbags

The 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe has a set of safety features that are second-to-none in its class. The safety features of the Santa Fe can help you save money on car insurance, as it is listed as one of the least expensive cars to insure.

Electronic Brake-Force Distribution and Traction control will make sure your brakes are automatically applied on each wheel based on road conditions and cargo weight. Electronic Stability Control ensures that your Santa Fe stays facing the direction you want it to. Rear parking sensors are outstanding in parking lots, so you can catch that stray shopping cart heading your way. Lane Change Assistance will make sure you know if someone is coming up behind you when changing lanes, and Blind Spot Detection will keep your blind spot covered. Hillstart and Downhill Assist will keep your Santa Fe from rolling backwards when performing a hillstart, and giving you tight control down steeper declines.

All of these features, on top of the market-leading seven airbags and sturdy chassis of the Santa Fe make it one of the safest cars in its class.

Summary

Whether you’re looking for the economy and value of the Santa Fe Sport, the torque and power of the Santa Fe Sport 2.0T or the enviable ability to transport up to 7 passengers with the Santa Fe, the 2016 Santa Fe range should be top of the list of test drives in 2016 for those looking for an affordable, well-equipped crossover SUV.