We have a serious question for compact crossover shoppers: with fuel-efficient four-cylinder turbo options from the likes of Hyundai and Ford, why would you even consider shopping for a V-6?

We recently had a chance to drive the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport at an elevation of 8,400 feet, and we can tell you that Hyundai’s latest people mover is a giant step forward from its last one.

Not only does the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder make more than enough power for most expectations, it delivers that power in a smooth and refined fashion that’s almost luxury-car-like. You’d be forgiven for thinking there was a small V-6 under the hood.

You’ll be reminded that you’re driving a four-cylinder, however, every time you pass by a gas station without needing to tank up. The two-row, five-seat Santa Fe Sport with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivers 31 mpg highway and 21 mpg city in front-drive trim, and an equally respective 27 mpg highway and 20 mpg city in all-wheel-drive form.

That beats V-6 equipped crossovers by a significant margin. The GMC Terrain / Chevy Equinox gets 24 mpg highway and 17 mpg city when equipped with the new 3.6-liter V-6, and that’s in front-drive form.

The Toyota RAV4, when equipped with the 3.5-liter V-6, delivers 26 mpg highway and 19 mpg city in AWD trim, and only ups fuel economy by 1 mpg highway in front-drive configuration.

In fact, only the latest Ford Escape with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine meets or beats the fuel economy of the Santa Fe Sport, delivering up to one more mpg in city and highway driving than the Hyundai.

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

If you don’t need the 264 horsepower and 269 pound feet of torque that Hyundai’s turbocharged 2.0-liter engine puts out, opt for the Santa Fe Sport’s normally-aspirated base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.

This still delivers 190 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, while returning up to 33 mpg highway and 22 mpg city in FWD or 28 mpg highway and 21 mpg city in AWD.

The 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport should be arriving in dealers now. It replaces the outgoing Santa Fe, while a new three-row, seven-passenger Santa Fe will debut shortly to replace the outgoing Veracruz.

If you’re in the market for a compact crossover with more power than the Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5, consider adding the new Santa Fe Sport to your short list. A single drive should be enough to make a believer out of you.


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