2008 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV

We didn't find any results. You can try changing your zip code, or check another model year.

We found matches for you!

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Hyundai Santa Fe Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.3 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 242 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 17/24 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe

  • High on value, safety and amenities, the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe is a very good choice for a midsize crossover SUV.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Well-designed cabin, impressive standard safety features and crash test scores, competitive price, lengthy warranty, optional third-row seat.

  • Cons

    Excessively firm ride on SE and Limited models, lackluster automatic transmission, disappointing driving dynamics.

  • What's New for 2008

    The 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe receives minor changes. The Limited trim pads its standard equipment roster with the high-power Infinity Logic 7 CD changer audio system and a sunroof, while SE models now include standard premium seat cloth.

Full 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

What's New for 2008

The 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe receives minor changes. The Limited trim pads its standard equipment roster with the high-power Infinity Logic 7 CD changer audio system and a sunroof, while SE models now include standard premium seat cloth.


One of the fastest growing and most popular vehicle types recently, midsize crossover SUVs have become America's favored choice for family transportation. Better driving and more fuel efficient than traditional truck-based sport utilities and hipper than minivans, these vehicles are well suited for daily life. One particularly well-executed and value-laden example is the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Coming off a full redesign last year, the latest Santa Fe is roomier, more powerful and more luxurious in feel than before, with a better balance between ride and handling dynamics. Especially relevant for families, its stiffer body structure also contributes to a greater margin of safety, as evidenced by its impressive crash test scores. More rakish-looking and with a longer wheelbase, the Santa Fe now features more room in every direction, plus the option of third-row seating. It's clear that cabin design was a major focus for Hyundai this time around, as the Santa Fe boasts an attractive layout constructed of high-quality materials. Underneath, this light-duty hauler has most bases covered with two available V6 engines and the option of front- or all-wheel drive.

Overall, there's a lot to like about Hyundai's midsize crossover. It looks luxurious both inside and out and might even be confused for a Lexus. The list of standard equipment is impressive, especially when one factors in price. If there's a downside, it's that the Santa Fe isn't as pleasurable to drive as other top models in this segment. As such, shoppers with a priority for driver enjoyment might want to look at the Mazda CX-7, Mitsubishi Outlander or Toyota RAV4 V6. But the majority of families who simply desire a spacious midsize SUV that packs lots of value -- including great warranty coverage -- will be well served by the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe midsize crossover sport-utility is available in three trim levels: base GLS, SE and Limited. The GLS starts off with 16-inch alloy wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control and a CD/MP3 player. The midlevel SE trim features a larger V6 engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic headlights, a trip computer and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The top-of-the-line Santa Fe Limited adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof and a premium Infinity audio system with a six-CD changer.

Some of the Limited's extra features are offered as options on the GLS and SE. Other options include a third-row seat with auxiliary rear climate controls, Bluetooth and towing preparation. An optional navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system are offered on the Santa Fe Limited only.

Powertrains and Performance

Santa Fe GLS models come with a 2.7-liter V6 that produces 185 horsepower and 183 pound-feet of torque. The SE and Limited feature a larger 3.3-liter V6 good for 242 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard with the base engine, and a four-speed automatic is optional. The larger V6 comes standard with a five-speed automatic transmission.

All Santa Fe models are offered with either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive powertrains. The electronically controlled AWD system automatically routes power to the wheels with the best traction. For improved performance in slippery or off-road conditions, a driver-selectable AWD lock provides a fixed 50/50 torque split between front and rear wheels. Properly equipped, the Santa Fe can tow up to 3,500 pounds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is pretty much identical for both engines; a 2008 AWD model with the 3.3-liter V6 has a 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway rating, about average for this segment.


The 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe offers an impressive array of standard safety features including antilock disc brakes (with brake assist), traction control, stability control, front seat side airbags, full-length head curtain airbags and active front-seat head restraints. In government crash tests, the Santa Fe received a perfect five stars for protection in frontal and side impacts. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Santa Fe earned a "Top Safety Pick" award and the highest possible rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

Hyundai focused on interior design with the second-generation Santa Fe, and it shows, with an attractive dashboard and quality materials throughout. The Santa Fe can seat up to seven passengers with the optional third-row seat. Like most models in this segment, however, it's really only suitable for children. The second row is notably above average in terms of comfort.

The split rear seats can be folded flat in both rows, and the Santa Fe splits the difference between smaller and larger crossover SUVs with 78 cubic feet of maximum cargo room. Upscale touches like blue instrument lighting and adjustable B-pillar air vents create an inviting atmosphere. The driving position can be awkward for some, as the front seats are mounted overly high, and the short bottom cushions offer minimal thigh support for taller adults.

Driving Impressions

The 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe is perfectly adequate for daily suburban duty, but certain aspects of the driving experience are disappointing. The small V6 in the base GLS model works hard at times to deal with moving this 2-ton SUV. We suggest stepping up to the SE and Limited's larger V6 if you're planning on regularly hauling passengers or cargo. The five-speed automatic transmission coupled with this engine generally works well, though at times it can be slow to downshift for quick passing or merging maneuvers.

On the move, the Santa Fe's handling is predictable and safe. The highway ride can be overly harsh at times on models equipped with the 18-inch wheels. We've also taken issue with brake pedal feel; it can be a bit soft during hard braking, and overall braking distances on a Santa Fe we tested were longer than average for this class of vehicle.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Absolutely love this vehicle

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

I purchased this vehicle used and by far my favorite. I have owned all types of vehicles and this is by far my favorite in terms of performance and luxury. My girlfriend has a BMW X3 and the Hyundai compares in terms of luxury and performance. In fact if you look at the specs the two vehicles are almost identical. The only difference is the BMW feels "tighter" steering wise. Overall plenty of power and luxury. The seats are comfortable and the ride is extremely smooth and quiet. Getting about 20.7 mpg in primarily suburban driving and over 25 on a long trip to and from the Jersey shore.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Srs issues following ocs recall

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV (2.7L 6cyl 4A)

The vehicle was serviced June 2013 for the following recalls: SRS PODS and Stop Lamp Switch Replacement. After the recalibration of the SRS PODS system, the Airbag (AIR) warning lamp in the dashboard remained on. The front seat belt tensioner was replaced free of charge, but 9 months later the AIR light came on again and the entire seat needs to be replaced at a cost of $2400 plus tax and labor. I never had any problems with the SRS system until after the recallibration of the SRS PODS system. Prior to this, the transmission and Hydraulic Brake Control Unit were replaced in 2009. The noise thought to be the transmission (prob. valves) went away around 50,000 miles.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

Best suv for your dollar

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV AWD (2.7L 6cyl 4A)

IMO this is the best SUV you can get for the money, especially if buying used. The cargo capacity is outstanding, including generous under-floor storage, the ride is very quiet, the mileage is surprisingly good (no worse than my previous Honda CR-V - a much smaller and noisier vehicle). With the Santa Fe you get the feeling of a refined, almost luxurious vehicle but with a bargain pricetag.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Two years and still happy

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV (2.7L 6cyl 5M)

We've had this vehicle for almost two years now (48,000 KM) and still love it. It looks great and we've had zero service issues with it thus far. The only two small issues that we have with it would be the not-too-great gas mileage and a bizarre 'helicopter' type sound in the car if one rear window is open when there are no others open - strange problem, but we quickly learned not to do that! We are still very happy with the vehicle and have since recommended it to others who have also bought a Santa Fe!

14 of 75 people found this review helpful

Love the car but....

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV (2.7L 6cyl 4A)

I purchased my Santa Fe almost two years ago and I have really enjoyed the car for the entire timeuntil today. The car started jumping forward when I was traveling a low speeds or stopped at a light. A few minutes later, the ESC and oil lights illuminated in the dashboard and the car lost power. Luckily I was just two blocks from home.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

Bad rack and pinion

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe SE 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

Had to replace rack and pinion three times. Also, inside door liners, had to replace rubber twice. For all those who own this vehicle, make sure you have the rack and pinion checked. If the steering wheel doesn't stay straight once it's aligned, it could be your rack and pinion.

Talk About The 2008 Santa Fe

2008 Hyundai Santa Fe Discussions See all Started By

My Santa Fe 2008 has a dimmer for all the instrumentation lights, and they all dim down just fine EXCEPT FOR the Radio/Stereo backlight. This stays at full brightness and is quite dazzling at night....

I have a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe that started having problems with the remote locks. The only way for the doors to lock and unlock is when I start the vehicle up and it is running. It no longer respon...

I have a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe. Any time I put gas in it it doesn't want to start. Takes about 10 to 15 seconds before it will finally start and then it works fine afterward. It only does this when I ...

Gas Mileage


  • 17
  • cty
  • 24
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at help@edmunds.com
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411