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2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Presents Exceptional 2-Row value

It’s not often that a manufacturer lends a less than fully loaded car or light truck offering to a journalist for drive review, so I rented one, and set out on an 800 mile, 24 hour turnaround in the rain. I learned a thing or two as to Santa Fe Sports, front-wheel-drive road worthiness, mostly good.

Car manufacturers generally put auto journalist like myself in top trim variants of their latest offerings. While we appreciate the uptick, a fully loaded model rarely represents what the majority of consumers purchase. More often than not, volume car sales occur in the mid trim level, and in much of the country, front-wheel-drive is not required for safe commuting and the occasional road trip to the country.

So, I bounced over to Enterprise, and rented a near bare bones, manually adjusted cloth seat, 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport,equipped with a normally aspirated 2.4 Liter 16 Valve 4-cylinder gasoline engine, 6-speed automatic transmission and front wheel drive -- I liked it!

At MSRP $25,350 +, Hyundai Santa Fe is a very pleasant, fuel efficient driver

Finding a well equipped family crossover these days with a base MSRP under $26,000 is a tough proposition. They’re out there, but vary greatly as to standard trim and optional equipment packaging, it pays to shop a bit. Granted, our 2017 Santa Fe test mule is a bit bare bones by competitive standards, and you won’t find electronic active accident avoidance features, lane-keep assist, or adaptive cruise control standard at this trim level.

Yet, the manually adjusted fabric covered seats are relatively comfortable, the 40/60 split 2nd row does fold down for volume cargo space, and the 185 horsepower@ 6.000rpm, 178 lb-ft torque @ 4,000 rpm engine, proves very capable, smooth, and torque happy, while surpassing E.P.A average fuel efficiency: 21/27/24 combined. I further found the dash layout, center stack, instrument cluster lighting, and material used throughout to cabin to be above par and rather pleasing to the eye.

For 2017, Santa Fe comes to a very competitive crossover segment with a reduction in road noise transfer, and a rather tame engine, transmission paring.

On my 800 + mile drive round about, under extreme downpour driving conditions, I averaged 30.1 mpg combined, at mostly freeway driving speeds in Eco mode. While initially, I mentally complained about the mechanically adjusted driver’s seat, within miles of entering Santa Fe Sport, I was fine with it.

They 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe’s driving environment is comfortable, long legged, and intuitively laid out. And, although Sport’s 5 inch standard static touch monitor is small by any measure, it does come complete with a color backup camera with directional lines -- the resolution was pretty good, even in the rain.(Premium package upgrade available)

Solid steering wheel to road feedback, decent brakes, good throttle response

While one won’t discover a state of the auto-art CVT transmission here, I found myself liking Hyundai's time proven, rather long-legged 6-speed automatic. It does come with select-shift, and a drive mode select button. I did most of my driving in Eco mode, hence the stellar fuel efficiency. I’m sure one can dig up a sport mode if needed. This 4-banger produces as much mid range torque as many turbocharged mills on the road today, including this one.

As to general road handling, although Santa Fe Sport comes standard equipped with alloy wheels, and some pretty fat tires, a very decent independent front and rear suspension, and more, this 4-wheel disc brake wonder is not designed for aggressive 2-lane sweeps, it’s a bit nose heavy in the down hill. But then again, on the highway, Santa Fe Sport is road sticky, and crappy-road-surface smoothing. Santa Fe Sport’s independent suspension is exceptional in taming less than perfect road surfaces.

And despite standard vehicle stability mode, electronic stability and traction control, I discovered a bit more side sway than desired when engaged in aggressive driving.

2017 Hyundai Santa Fe is most at home on the highway and around town

Santa Fe may very well be the maker’s affordable answer to the midsize family station wagon of a bi-gone era. It’s very user friendly, group accommodating, presents great utility, is pleasant to drive and comes standard with a comprehensive list of safety- necessities, electronic device charge and connectivity features, and a pretty decent stereo system. And, I like looking at it. You will find full specifications here.

A closing thought or two regarding the 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe

In driving 2017 Santa Fe Sport, I discovered a happy inner teenager buried by years of driving rather uptick, fully loaded performance cars and trucks, still appreciating the overall drive experienced behind the wheel of capable, just off the bottom trim level family utility crossover. It works without worry, is affordable to purchase and operate, and pleasant to look at. 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe should be on anyone’s test drive short list considering the purchase of a compact to midsize 2 row crossover.