2008 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV

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Hyundai Santa Fe Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.3 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front 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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (29 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Bad rack and pinion

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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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful


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

Our Santa Fe is now 14 months old and since the first day we bought it we have had a vibration when driving well after serving Hyundai with a 3rd and final attempt letter they are going to put the 3rd set of tires on it Seriously this is a bunch of crap. The experience has not been a good one at all Thank you Prime Toyota in Scarborough Maine this is the 3rd car from them in 2 years the others a Tucson and Toyota Camry were great and paid for. But they dropped the ball on this one even after calling the owner himself. They have done nothing to help us we had to go to another Hyundai Dealer and they and the Hyundai Rep are helping Just buy the vehicle back or give us a normal

Good vehilcle a couple problems

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

We bought our 2008 Sante fe after looking at Ford, Chev, Toyota and Chrysler and decided that the Sante Fe was an all better deal, price wise, handling and style. We had a problem with the airbag sensor which was irratic, coming on and going off was not predicatable. This was finally fixed. Also the accelerator sensor acted up. The vehicle would pulsate from 600 RPM to 1500 RPM. The sensor was replced and now works well. Love the interior design especially the dashboard lighting. Exterior design is also good.

So far so good

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

The car has a little over 10000 miles on it since bought new in january. The wife gets 22.5 MPG mixed city and highway driving. I get around 26 MPG driving it highway to work. A recent leak in the power steering is being addressed by the dealer. The rack is being replaced and the dealer provided a loaner car over the Labor day Holiday. We have been treated very well by everyone since the car purchase.

Happy with my hyundai

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

I got a great deal on a year old Santa Fe with 14K miles, and very glad I bought it. The ride is very quiet and comfortable, and there's ample room for 4-5 people. It handles well and the 3.3 liter V-6 gives it plenty of power. I get ~24 mpg highway, and overall average 22 mpg, with about 70% highway driving. My '02 Subaru Outback averaged about 23 mpg, and considering the Santa Fe is larger, roomier and much more powerful, I'm happy with the mileage. The interior of the Hyundai feels fairly upscale, and it is SO much quieter than my Subie ever was. Considering the size, it has a remarkably tight turning circle. The Santa Fe is a great choice if you're looking for a mid-size crossover SUV!

Smooth transmission

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

Excellent car. Ride is very smooth and quiet. Love the exterior and interior finish. Handling is very nice and predictable. Transmission is as smooth as it can be. I was able to purchase the SE V6 3.3L 242h Santa Fe for less than the price of the base CRV. Fuel economy is good for a large and heavy vehicle. I'm consistently get 20mpg in stop and go traffic.

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.

Talk About The 2008 Santa Fe

Gas Mileage


  • 17
  • cty
  • 24
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs