2014 Hyundai Santa Fe

By Tom Crosby

Hyundai made history earlier this year, winning the top rating in a single year in two J.D. Power categories using customer feedback. The Korean manufacturer was number one for a non-premium nameplate in APEL (automotive performance, execution and layout) and in J. D. Power’s initial quality survey of owners.

Test driving the base 2014 Hyundai Sport front-wheel drive crossover, it was easy to see that Hyundai has become a major player in the main stream automotive market. It holds its own against the Ford Edge, Chevrolet Equinox and the Kia Sorrento. While the only significant change at no cost in this year’s Sport was making 18-inch wheels standard, Hyundai added a series of new features to its main option packages: Popular, Premium and Technology.

Get all three, which our tester had, and the attractive base price of $25,825 jumps to $33,375. The options increase luxury and safety and owners will be tempted to add them for new features such as blind spot detection, rear parking assist, ventilated front seats, memory seats and rear side window shades, among dozens of older features.

Our 2014 base Sport test drive had the 2.4-liter direct injection engine (there is a more powerful 2.0-liter turbo engine option). The five-passenger Santa Fe provides a stable, quiet and comfortable ride, with adequate handling.

Outside, the Santa Fe has sculpted good looks but for drivers the widened rear and swept up back hinder rear visibility, making the blind spot detection and rear assist necessary safety options.

Inside, all occupants have ample seating space, the optional 8.4 inch navigation screen is easily reachable for touch controls, the steering wheel operates several functions, gauges are legible, and cargo space is versatile with fold down rear seats for extra trunk space above a temporary spare tire.

The interior has a clean, uncluttered look with leather seating surfaces adding to an overall upscale feel. A standard feature in our Santa Fe, and in most Hyundai’s today, is Bluelink, a telematics system linked to your mobile phone that is a step into the automotive future.

You can dictate text messages, communicate location, record your driving habits (insurance companies may reduce premiums for good driving habits), start the car remotely, check vehicle diagnostics via cell phone, plus several more features.

To be seen is whether they contribute to driving distraction and affect Santa Fe’s formerly good safety rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

LIKES: BlueLink, quiet, ride, comfort, cargo space
DISLIKES: Options needed, rear visibility
BOTTOM LINE: J.D. Power ratings make Hyundai a must-look for value buyers


  • Base price $25,825
  • Curb weight 3,459 lbs.
  • Wheelbase 106.3 inches
  • Length 184.6 inches
  • Width 74 inches
  • Engine specs 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder, DOHC
  • Horsepower 190 hp at 6,300 rpm
  • Torque 181 lbs.-ft. at 4,250 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed automatic w/manual option
  • EPA Rating 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway
  • Range 17.4 gallons, regular fuel
  • Performance 0-60 in under 9 seconds