Midsize SUV; Built in USA, South Korea
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $15,400 – $25,700*


2010 Hyundai Santa Fe front


2010 Hyundai Santa Fe rear


2010 Hyundai Santa Fe interior


2010 Hyundai Santa Fe


2010 Hyundai Santa Fe interior

Pros:
  • Cargo room
  • Control layout
  • Seat comfort (front)
Cons:
  • Acceleration (passing/merging response with 4-cyl.)
  • Entry/exit (step-in height)
  • Ride
  • Visibility

Santa Fe is a competent and capable midsize SUV with a comfortable interior and great cargo-carrying flexibility. The four-cylinder engine has decent power; fuel economy is also good considering that this is a fairly heavy vehicle. A floppy suspension hurts the ride, and we’ve had some concerns about the long-term durability of the interior materials. Still, when the price is right, Santa Fe is worth a look if you’re in the market for a five-passenger crossover SUV.

Overview

Hyundai’s Santa Fe crossover SUV received a major freshening for 2010, with revised styling and new engines. This was the smaller of Hyundai’s two midsize SUVs. Seating five, Santa Fe was available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Previously optional, a third-row bench seat that expanded passenger capacity to seven was no longer offered. The 2010 model came in GLS, SE, and Limited trim levels. Standard on the GLS and front-drive Limited was a new 175-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Standard on the SE and optional on the Limited was a new 276-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. These engines replaced V6 motors of 2.7 and 3.3 liters, respectively. A six-speed manual transmission was standard on the front-drive GLS. Optional on that model and standard on all others was a six-speed automatic. Maximum towing capacity was 3,500 pounds with the V6. Available safety features included antilock braking, traction control, an antiskid system, front-side airbags, and curtain-side airbags. Leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a sunroof were standard on the Limited. The sunroof was optional on the GLS and SE. A navigation system and rearview camera were optional on all. Santa Fe competitors included the Chevrolet Equinox, Nissan Murano, and Toyota Highlander.

Yearly Updates

2011 Santa Fe
Following its freshening for the 2010 model year, Santa Fe saw some minor trim changes for 2011. Solar glass now was standard. Limited models added a 605-watt Infiniti Logic 7 audio system.
2012 Santa Fe
There were no changes of note to the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

Two engines have been available in the Santa Fe. GLS and Limited models use a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, rated at 175 horsepower, mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Standard in the SE and optional for Limited was a 3.5-liter V6 that developed 276 horsepower. The SE included a six-speed automatic transmission.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/146
Engine HP 175
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 169
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
19/26
20/25
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/214
Engine HP 276
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 248
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic

20/26

Road Test

Power is decent around town with a front-drive, four-cylinder Santa Fe. However, a heavy foot is needed to extract the most from the engine in passing and merging situations. The transmission is generally responsive, but it frequently needs to kick down for maximum power.

Fuel economy is satisfying. In Consumer Guide testing, a front-drive four-cylinder Santa Fe averaged 24.5 mpg with more highway driving than city use. All models use regular-grade gas.

Ride quality is pleasant enough around town and on the highway, but Santa Fe lacks the composure of top midsize SUV rivals. Expect plenty of nervous wheel patter over rough pavement as well as some body-rocking motions over sharp bumps.

Santa Fes are stable overall, but our testers have been divided on the steering and brakes. Some have declared them linear and predictable. Others considered the steering to be lazy at low speeds, adding that the brake pedal felt spongy.

Wind and road noise are noticeable, but they never rise to objectionable levels. The four-cylinder engine sounds a bit unrefined while accelerating, but the sound fades away while cruising.

Even with the navigation system, most controls are simple and straightforward. The touchscreen’s virtual buttons aren’t as large as those on rival SUVs, which means accessing some functions can be a bit tricky. Most cabin materials look better than they actually feel. The dashboard is made of thin, hollow plastic, but it’s very nicely textured. The faux wood and metal trim are classy looking. Padding on the door and center-console armrests is a bit skimpy. The leather upholstery on one test vehicle looked a bit rumpled and aged after only about 5,000 miles on the odometer.

Overall front-seat space is more than adequate, even for the tallest passengers. The available sunroof cuts into headroom when the front seats are set high. Step-in is surprisingly tall for a midsize crossover SUV, but it’s not unmanageable. Visibility is hurt by thick roof pillars and tall rear headrests.

The rear bench is very comfortable, and overall room is good. Legroom only gets tight if the front seats are set far back. Note that Santa Fe is no longer available with a third-row seat.

Roomy and flexible cargo hauling is a Santa Fe strong point. Large under-floor storage bins provide welcome security, and the rear seatbacks fold nearly flat to accommodate bulky items. Interior storage is very good thanks to a two-tier center armrest, large door pockets, and a bin located ahead of the transmission shifter.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe 2WD Ltd. 4-cyl.

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 4
40%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
50%
Cargo Room - 9
90%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 58

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.3 184.1 74.4 67.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
78.2 19.8 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.2 39.6 42.6 36.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2010 Santa Fe 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Transmission problems
Description: Transmission may revert to limp-in mode due to failure of the input-output speed sensor. (2010)
Transmission problems
Description: The 6-speed automatic transmission may revert to limp-in mode due to damaged wiring between the transmission control module and transmission requiring wiring harness replacement. (2010)
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light may illuminate due to a possible evaporative emissions system leak on the 2.4L engine, but reflashing the engine control module repairs the problem. (2010-11)

Recall History

2007-2011 Santa Fe
Description: Stop-lamp switch may malfunction, preventing brake lights from functioning and potentially interfering with cruise control and the push-button starter.
2010 Santa Fe 2WD with automatic and 2.4L engine
Description: The intermediate shaft may suffer from noise and excessive wear due to a misalignment of the intermediate shaft with the right side output gear. Continuing to drive the vehicle in this condition leads to the development of a whirring/whining noise and can eventually cause damage to the automatic transmission.
2011 Santa Fe
Description: On vehicles manufactured from September 28, 2010 through November 25, 2010, rear brake calipers may not have been properly machined. Brake fluid could leak, followed by illumination of the indicator light, leading to a soft or spongy brake-pedal feel and possible reduced braking power.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.