2009 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 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 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe

  • An excellent value plus plenty of safety features and amenities make the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe a very good choice when it comes to midsize crossover SUVs.

  • Safety
  • Pros

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

  • Cons

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

  • What's New for 2009

    Since the Santa Fe was redesigned recently, Hyundai's midsize crossover includes only minor changes for the 2009 model year. All Santa Fes now get standard iPod and USB inputs, plus upgraded stereos. Also, SE and Limited versions now get a towing prep package and roof rack cross rails as standard.

Full 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

What's New for 2009

Since the Santa Fe was redesigned recently, Hyundai's midsize crossover includes only minor changes for the 2009 model year. All Santa Fes now get standard iPod and USB inputs, plus upgraded stereos. Also, SE and Limited versions now get a towing prep package and roof rack cross rails as standard.


Vehicles like the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe are responsible for Hyundai's reputation as a brand that offers quality and affordability. Where the previous Santa Fe had an odd but unique look, the recently redesigned, current version is about as mainstream as you can get. View the Santa Fe from various angles and you might notice a resemblance to more upscale midsize crossover SUVs such as the Lexus RX and VW Touareg. That's not to say it looks generic -- it doesn't. What the Santa Fe does offer is a familiar look and a top-notch interior that borders on luxurious, especially in Limited trim.

Hyundai's Santa Fe can be equipped with all this segment's expected features, including a third-row seat and a navigation system. Buyers can also choose from models with one of two V6 engines, front- or all-wheel drive and a manual or automatic transmission. Unfortunately, you can't really mix and match -- base models have a smaller V6 with less horsepower, and many of the Limited's comfort and convenience features are exclusive to that trim.

Overall, though, the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe is a great choice for young families in need of all-purpose transportation. We wouldn't recommend it if sporty driving dynamics are desired. The smaller Mazda CX-7 and Mitsubishi Outlander, as well as the midsize Nissan Murano would all be preferable in this case, and Toyota's Highlander is roomier and quicker. But if you want a lot of crossover for the money, the Hyundai Santa Fe is quite compelling.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 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 six-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port. 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 a sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control 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 and Bluetooth for wirelessly connecting your phone to the car. A towing preparation package is standard on SE and Limited models, and an optional navigation system and a rear-seat entertainment system are offered on the Santa Fe Limited only.

Powertrains and Performance

In GLS trim, the Santa Fe comes 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 and accelerates the Santa Fe from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds.

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 the 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: An AWD model with the 3.3-liter V6 has ratings of 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined, a tad above average for this segment.


The 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe offers an impressive array of standard safety features including antilock disc brakes, 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 the highest possible rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

This second-generation Santa Fe has an attractive dashboard and quality materials throughout. In Limited trim, the convincing faux wood and aluminum accents give the crossover a definite luxury feel. Blue instrument lighting and an optional 10-speaker Infinity sound system only add to the Santa Fe's plush interior ambience.

The driving position can be awkward for some, though, as the front seats are mounted overly high and the short bottom cushions offer minimal thigh support for taller adults.

With the optional third-row seat, the Santa Fe can accommodate up to seven passengers. Like most models in this segment, however, the third row is 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.

Driving Impressions

Smaller crossover SUVs like the Mazda CX-7 and Mitsubishi Outlander are sportier and more rewarding to drive hard, though the Santa Fe's handling is certainly composed and can actually be fun at times. The trade-off is that the ride can be very busy on the highway on models with the larger wheels. During normal driving, the brake pedal feels about right, but can get soft during hard braking.

The 2.7-liter V6 provides decent acceleration, but the extra kick and refined nature of the 3.3-liter V6, which is nearly as fuel efficient, is noticeable and gives the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe a more substantial feel. In testing, though, we've found the larger V6's five-speed automatic can sometimes be slow to downshift for quick passing or merging maneuvers.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Paint peels

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Vehicle: 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

We bought this 2009 Santa Fe based on consumer Reports ratings and the fact that we got over 200,000 miles on the last Hyundai Sonata. We have over 90,000 miles on this one and it has been a good value except for 2 major points. One, the accelerator stuck in the idle position, which is the default instead of unintended acceleration. The other is the paint peeled off the hood and the roof right above the windshield. Even though it was only 2.5 years old, since it had 50,000 miles on it warranty did not cover it. $1600 paint job. The money we saved by buying Hyundai we really did not save. You get what you pay for...

If it only had a

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Vehicle: 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe SE 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

This review applies only to the SE and Limted trims with the 18" wheels........NOT THE GLS trim with 16" wheels......BIG DIFFERENCE. My wife drives the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe, good thing, because I would have traded in this rough riding bronco by now...... The engine is sweet, brakes good, interior is well thought out, exterior is good. The biggest and , unfortunately, most notable con is the HARSH ride over the many bumps and potholes on our crappy streets here in West Houston. The 18" wheels are a performance choice for the Santa Fe, as they are the wheels for the SE and Limited trims, not the base GLS trim. It is unfortunate that the BASE model Santa Fe is a more comfortable ride !!!

9 of 18 people found this review helpful

Great value for an suv

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Vehicle: 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV AWD (2.7L 6cyl 4A)

I have the 2009 GLS 2.7L AWD. I went from a 4wd Silverado to the SUV with no regrets. My major construction days are done, and driving around paying a fortune for fuel with an empty truck bed 94% of the time seemed like a good reason to let it go. I wanted a new vehicle, without breaking the bank. I opted for the GLS vs. the upscale version not because of affordability, but it had all I needed, why pay more for the more expensive model? It came with the hands free Bluetooth and I added a trailer hitch for those occasional trips to the home centers. The roof racks and crossbars came with the vehicle, but if I had to purchase them, how often do you travel with items on the roof? The 3.3L engine to me wasnít worth the added cost. The 2.7L has more than enough power, and with the AWD and autoshift, it is excellent in the snow. I have averaged on the highway anywhere from 18 to almost 24mpg. For a vehicle this size I feel it is pretty good. The newer models claim to get 28. Some reviews have said the cabin noise is loud with the windows down. I think most cars at 70mph with the windows down have a lot of cabin noise. Adding air deflectors / vent visors around the windows helps keep the air noise to a minimum when the windows are open. Financing all those add on items over time adds up. When you buy a vehicle you are paying a ton in interest for the mud flaps, fog lights, cargo cover, etc. being somewhat handy, I buy the aftermarket items as I can afford them, or get them on e-bay at a reduced price. As far as resale, after five years itís a moot point after that, and if you plan on keeping a vehicle 7 to 10 years, who really cares about resale? At 26,000 miles, I have had no major problems, and have not been back to the dealer for any repairs. Changing the oil, filters, rotating tires at regular intervals for any vehicle, along with regular maintenance is key to longevity of any vehicle. If youíre looking for more power, heavy towing, or going from 0 to 60 in 30 seconds, this isnít the vehicle for you. The Santa Fe is a great all around vehicle, quiet, comfortable, elegant and has plenty of storage, with the seats down it is more than adequate. It handles bad weather like a walk in the park. Hyundai is underrated, and is a very versatile all-around vehicle. This SUV is very capable of handling rough, gravel, dirt, muddy and off the beaten path roads. It will hold your camping gear, skiís, golf clubs, kids, soccer gear, and is able to tow your ski doodles, motorcycles or trailerable items such as moving furniture for your kids. If you are looking to cross over 12Ē streams, boulders, tow a 40 foot Chris Craft, and drive across the Appalachian Trail, go purchase a Jeep or adequately equipped pickup. Or if you want to be gone in 60 seconds the minute the light changes green why are you looking at a Santa Fe?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Not recommended

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Vehicle: 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV (2.7L 6cyl 4A)

I've had 2 santa fe's, a 2007 and a 2009, both 2.7 v6 engines. the 2007 had numerous engine problems including breaking down on me 300 miles from home on a vacation trip; traded it in for an '09 and a year and a half later it developed a tapping sound in the engine and trying to get it serviced is like pulling teeth. this "rep" has to approve all engine replacement jobs but he apparently can check in whenever he feels like it. after numerous tries to get it fixed, including calling corporate office, my frustration made me trade it in for another brand..it is not worth the aggrevation.I will never buy a hyundai again...buyer beware!!!!!!

Decent crossover but lots of

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Vehicle: 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV (2.7L 6cyl 4A)

I have owned the 2009 GLS for 2 years now so I have a good history of issues and values for the car. The good is that it offers a lot for the price of the vehicle. Three of the four main issues with it have been covered under warranty. The ride for the GLS model is exceptionally smooth and handles city bumps without issue. I live in the north and it handles snow and drifts without issue (but is not good on ice). Issue one, the ignition system failed and the ignition in the steering column had to be replaced. Issue two, a sensor that acccelerates the car when you step on the gas failed. Issue three, the link stabilizer failed. Issue four, rust on the back hatch - Hyundai wont fix it

Hyundai rocks!

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Vehicle: 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A)

I purchased for my wife,and she loves it.The ride is good, dependable, roomy and the interior and exterior design is good.I highly recommend this vehicle to my family and friends.We first looked at the Toyota Highlander.The price we would have paid for it compared to what we paid for the Sante Fe is probably 5k more.

Talk About The 2009 Santa Fe

2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Discussions See all Started By

I have a 2009 Santa Fe. Recently, when I turn the key to attempt to crank the engine, the electrical would die completely. There's no cranking at all. The electrical dies right away. This has happ...

We just purchased a 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited last week and received conflicting information regarding the break-in period. The dealer said there was no specific break-in period and we should just...

I have a new 2009 Santa Fe SE with AWD and after the car is parked and sits for a short time I experience a vibration under the drivers floor when I start down the road again almost exactly at 20 mph....

Gas Mileage


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