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

The 3.5 GL added fog lights, and the GL Sport included 18-inch wheels, trip computer, heated seats with leather trim, eight-way power driver’s seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Limited added dual-zone climate control, premium ten-speaker stereo, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, compass, powered passenger seat, full leather seats, chrome door handles and automatic headlamps. A Limited with navigation trim included another stereo upgrade and rear-view camera.

In 2011, Hyundai added a GL Premium model with front- or all-wheel drive, heated seats, and trip computer for 3.5 GL models and auto-dimming mirror with compass for the GL Sport.

A revised grille was the only notable change for 2012.

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

In 2007, the Santa Fe’s fuel consumption estimates, according to Natural Resources Canada, were 11.3/8.4 L/100 km (city/highway) with the 2.7-litre engine and automatic transmission; with the manual, consumption increased to 11.9/8.6 L/100 km. Figures for the 3.3-litre motor were 12.2/8.8 with front-wheel drive, and 12.6/9.0 in all-wheel drive versions.

The 2010 models’ new engines proved far more efficient, with ratings of 10.2/7.2 for a four-cylinder, automatic model, and 10.7/7.5 with the manual. The 3.5-litre V6 was actually slightly better, with ratings of 10.1/7.6 with front-wheel drive, and 10.5/7.7 with power to all four wheels.

A four-cylinder, AWD, automatic model added in 2011 was rated 10.6/8.0 L/100 km.

TrueDelta.com suggests the second-generation Santa Fe is merely average where reliability is concerned, a sentiment echoed by Consumer Reports.

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

Rough shifting is a common problem in the Hyundai-built six-speed automatic transmission that went into the Santa Fe starting with 2010 models. This discussion at Hyundai-Forums.com provides a good description of the symptoms, and you can download a technical service bulletin issued by Hyundai, to help its technicians fix the problem, here. In most cases, the fix seems to be a reprogramming of the gearbox’s electronic control unit, but in some cases, according to comments posted to TrueDelta.com, Hyundai Canada opted to replace the transmission outright.

Also related to this transmission is a recall that applies to 2010 models that pair it with the four-cylinder engine. Information on that can be found at the end of this article.

Failed throttle position sensors are common. At best, the bad sensor will trigger a “check engine” light; at worst, it will cause stalling, rough idle and general poor performance, and could put the engine into “limp-home” mode, which allows the car to be driven short distances at low speeds. Click here and here for discussions about this problem. Bad oxygen sensors are fairly common, too, and can cause similar symptoms.

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

Vibrations in the vehicle at highway speed are another common complaint that seems to be linked to bad tires.

Clunking from the front suspension is caused by bad sway-bar end links.

TrueDelta.com’s data also points to the fuel-gauge sending unit as a frequent failure point.

And, as with so many cars these days, the Santa Fe gets nailed by CR for poor-quality, fast-wearing brake components.

As expected, the Santa Fe’s used vehicle values are lower than those of its key Japanese competitors from Toyota (RAV4) and Honda (CR-V), but come in a bit higher than the similarly sized, domestic-branded Chevrolet Equinox.

The general consensus has been that Hyundai’s most recent designs are among the most reliable in their respective classes. While that holds true in some cases (the compact Elantra is a good example), it’s not universal. The Santa Fe is a good vehicle, but it is certainly not perfect. The positive side of this is that the Santa Fe’s most significant problems are well documented, and relatively easy to diagnose and repair. Still, shop carefully if the Santa Fe is on your shortlist, focusing on vehicles that come with complete service records that show whether the trouble spots noted above have been addressed.

Pricing

Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) April, 2012:

Year
Model
Price today
Price new
2011
Santa Fe GL-V6 AWD
$27,425
$30,999
2010
Santa Fe GL-V6 AWD
$23,500
$30,999
2009
Santa Fe GL-V6 AWD
$20,125
$30,745
2008
Santa Fe GL-V6 AWD
$16,850
$30,545
2007
Santa Fe GL-V6 AWD
$14,675
$30,095

Online resources
  • Hyundai-Forums.com has a discussion section dedicated to the second-generation Santa Fe, while HyundaiSantaFeMessageBoard.Yuku.com, HyundaiForum.com and HyundaiKiaForums.com lump all model years into one discussion forum.

    Recalls
  • Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006205; Units affected: 404

    2007: On certain vehicles, the right forward baffle in the fuel tank may be below specification, which may result in less resistance to damage in a crash. All vehicles were in transit to dealers at the time of recall and have been repaired by the dealers before retail sale. Correction Dealers replaced the fuel tank as necessary.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008206; Units affected: 13,237

    2007-2008: On certain vehicles, the compliance label contains Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR) values that exceeds the capacity of the tires. Loading the vehicle beyond tire capacity could result in poor vehicle handling and braking characteristics, and possible tire failure, which could lead to a loss of vehicle control, causing a crash with personal injury or death. Correction: Updated labels will be mailed to owners of affected vehicles, along with instructions for proper installation.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2009120; Units affected: 67,976 (includes other models)

    2007: On certain vehicles, the stop lamp switch may have been incorrectly installed during vehicle assembly. This could prevent proper brake lamp operation. Failure of the brake lamps to illuminate when the brakes are applied may result in the following road users being unaware of the driver’s intentions, increasing the risk of a crash causing injury or death. A malfunction of the switch may also cause the brake lamps to remain illuminated when the brake pedal is released. Additionally, a faulty switch may affect the operation of the brake-transmission shift interlock on automatic transmission-equipped vehicles so that the transmission shifter would not be able to be shifted out of PARK position. It may also cause the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) light to illuminate, and it may not deactivate the cruise control when the brake pedal is depressed. Correction: Dealers will replace the stop lamp switch assembly.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2010430; Units affected: 57

    2011: On certain vehicles, the rear brake calipers may not have been properly machined and, as a result, brake fluid will leak due to improper sealing. If this occurs, the Low Brake Fluid Level Warning Light on the instrument panel will illuminate indicating that the brake fluid level should be attended to by the driver. If the vehicle continues to be driven with the Low Brake Fluid Level Warning Light illuminated, the driver will experience a soft or spongy brake pedal. In addition if both of these indicators are ignored, braking performance will be reduced. Correction: Dealers will inspect and replace if necessary the affected caliper(s).

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2011178; Units affected: 1,758

    2010: On certain vehicles equipped with the 2.4L engine, the automatic transmission’s intermediate shaft may suffer excessive wear due to a misalignment with the right side output gear. Continued use in this condition could cause a whirring/whining noise to develop, and eventual transmission damage, which could result in a loss of vehicle propulsion. Lost propulsion, in conjunction with traffic and road conditions, and the driver’s reactions, could increase the risk of a crash causing property damage and/or personal injury. Correction: Dealers will replace the intermediate shaft and right side output gear.

    Transport Canada Recall Number: 2011333; Units affected: 31,078

    2007-2008: On certain vehicles, the clockspring assembly for the driver’s airbag may become damaged and fail. As a result the airbag may not function as intended, and the instrument panel warning lamp would illuminate. Failure of the driver’s frontal airbag to deploy during a crash (where deployment is warranted) could increase the risk of personal injury to the seat occupant. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the airbag clockspring assembly.

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

    Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

    For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

    For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.