Used Vehicle Review: Hyundai Santa Fe, 2007 2012 used car reviews reviews hyundai
2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited. Click image to enlarge

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By Chris Chase; photos by Greg Wilson

As was the trend with Hyundai vehicles through the aughts, particularly in the latter half of the decade, every new or redesigned vehicle the company brought to market was its best yet. That was the deal with the 2007 Santa Fe, a vehicle that thrust Hyundai straight into the heart of the crossover utility vehicle (CUV) segment.

The original Santa Fe, introduced in 2001, was a decent vehicle, but its strong sales were mostly due to Hyundai’s aggressive pricing. The second-generation, 2007 model was a little bigger, more than a little better-looking and more refined overall.

In an interesting move, all 2007 Santa Fes got V6 power. The base engine was a 2.7-litre motor (185 hp, 183 lb-ft) carried forward from the first generation, and the upgrade was a 3.3-litre V6 (242 hp, 226 lb-ft), first used in the redesigned Sonata introduced a year earlier. The 2.7-litre came standard with a five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic, and the 3.3-litre came with naught but a five-speed automatic. All-wheel drive was an option, naturally, but only with the larger engine.

Used Vehicle Review: Hyundai Santa Fe, 2007 2012 used car reviews reviews hyundai
2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited. Click image to enlarge

The 2007 Santa Fe line started with the GL model, which included 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, six-speaker stereo, cruise control, front seat side airbags and front and rear curtain airbags, stability/traction control, windshield wiper de-icer, and keyless entry. A GL with the 3.3-litre engine also added a telescopic steering wheel with audio controls.

A GL Premium model (offered with the 3.3-litre motor only) included seven-passenger seating, 18-inch wheels, heated seats, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and leather-wrapped steering wheel. A GL Premium Leather package added leather seats, sunroof, fog lights and a carpeted cargo area.

At the top of the line was the GLS, with leather seats, interior air quality system, all-wheel drive, chrome door handles and grille, garage door opener, and rear spoiler.

Hyundai made a long list of changes for 2008. Satellite radio was added to all models. Mechanical changes included a new catalytic converter aimed at improved gas mileage with the 3.3-litre engine. All Santa Fes with an automatic transmission now included heated seats and a leather-wrapped, telescopic steering wheel with audio controls. Also, all 3.3-litre models got a towing package, fog lights, trip computer, and new grille.

A new Limited trim built on the GLS, adding a ten-speaker stereo, power-adjustable passenger seat, dual-zone climate control, and a 115-volt power outlet. The GL 3.3-litre Premium model was replaced with a five-passenger GLS, and a GLS 2.7-litre model was added, with leather seats, eight-way power driver’s seat, lighted vanity mirrors, and leather-trimmed telescopic steering wheel with audio controls. The 3.3-litre GLS added fog lights, trip computer and silver door handles.

Used Vehicle Review: Hyundai Santa Fe, 2007 2012 used car reviews reviews hyundai
2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited. Click image to enlarge

In 2009, the seven-passenger option was discontinued, as was the 2.7-litre GLS. The 2.7 GL’s alloy wheels were downgraded to steel wheels and wheel covers.

There were more big changes for 2010. A 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine (175 hp, 169 lb-ft) replaced the 2.7-litre V6, and the 3.3-litre was ditched for a 3.5-litre good for 276 hp and 248 lb-ft. There were two new six-speed transmissions: one a manual, for four-cylinder models, and an automatic that could be optioned with the four and was standard with the new V6. Exterior styling was updated, and Bluetooth, steering wheel–mounted audio and cruise controls and an auto up/down driver’s window were all standard. The 3.3 GLS trim was replaced by a 3.5 GL with Sport Package.

Four-cylinder models were front-drive only. V6 GL and Sport models were standard with front-drive and could be optioned with all-wheel drive, and the Limited was all-wheel drive only.

The base GL got 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, woodgrain interior accents, keyless entry, active front head restraints, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, body-colour door handles, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper, and windshield de-icer.