The side windows are the main visible difference between the two versions. Hyundai reports that it shaped the side-glass differently to emphasize the greater passenger and cargo capacity of the long model.
The new, seven-passenger version (also available in a six-seat configuration) has a larger, more powerful engine as well, as compensation for the 400 or so pounds it gains. The Santa Fe Sport comes with a four-cylinder engine that delivers an ample, 190 horsepower. For an additional $3,250, an optional turbocharged four cylinder lifts the Sport’s horsepower to 264. The long version of Santa Fe contains a 3.3-liter V6 that generates 290 horsepower.
All three engines use an advanced method of fuel management called direct gas injection, helping to optimize both power and fuel economy. All engines connect to a six-speed automatic transmission. A driver-selectable “Eco” mode sets up engine and transmission to operate at maximum efficiency, cutting fuel use by five to seven percent from the normal operating mode, according to Hyundai.
Through the model’s first six months, the engines in Santa Fe Sport have emerged as popular features, reported Palmer, the sales manager at Salem Ford Hyundai. The model is not a racer, but the crisp response of the turbocharged engine in particular gives the wagon zest and spirit, he said. People notice that the power surges immediately, without the lag often experienced with turbocharged motors, said Palmer.
By contrast, the character of the seven-passenger Santa Fe tilts more toward practical cartage. The added seating automatically makes it a family wagon, attracting a new class of drivers who might consider the five-passenger Santa Fe Sport inadequate.
But Palmer expects the altered character of the new, seven-seat version of Santa Fe to only expand the model’s appeal. In his view, rather than messing with success, Hyundai is extending it.