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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (14 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

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 !!!

2009 santa fe se -

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

We were able to acquire a new 2009 SE, and got it for a reasonable price given the need of the dealership to be rid of their 09 models, with 2011 models just around the corner. We initially drove the GLS with 2.7V6/4speed auto. We upsized to the 3.3V6/5speed both for passing power and a smoother transmission (abrupt shifting seemed to be a complaint for 4-speed). Yes, the reviews are correct in that the fuel economy is not great, but it all depends on how you drive. We have only had the car for 400 miles, but with a light foot, I averaged around 24.5 mpg with mixed driving. If you are prone to punching it at red lights and going 80 mph on the interstate, you will not be MPG happy.

Poor gas mileage

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

Pretty satisfied with the vehicle with the exception of the poor fuel mileage. Combined mileage below 19 most of the time. Barely over 19 on all highway trip.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The begining

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

I just purchased this (New) 2009 Hyundai, Santa Fe and thought I would rate it now, six months and then at the one year mark. I hope you will find it useful in selecting your next vehicle. I am not in any way associated with Hyundai, and no one in my family works for or has any association with Hyundai Inc. I know the site says don’t write about the purchasing, but that was one of the reasons why I selected this vehicle over its competitions. It's value and warrantee were huge draws. I actually selected my new SUV from the inventory online and set the price before I even went to the dealership. Even Taxes, Tags, Titling, Destination costs, everything! I said “I’ll pay this” they said "OK".

Everything is great except mpg

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

engine is very quiet...cabin is also extremely quiet...handles great...windows and doors close nice and tight...plenty of leg room and 2nd row seat backs recline for added comfort...sound system more than adequate...so far my only complaint is city mpg, about 11 mpg,I can only hope this improves with initial break in period...I haven;t been on a road trip yet to see an overall average

Great value

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

Bought the Santa Fe after my wife's van was totaled. My wife is short so driving position and comfort were VERY important for her. Looked at ALL the competition. Came down to a used Toyota Highlander or new Santa Fe for about the same cost. Honestly, we liked the Highlanders better, but the Santa Fe was the best value, had less road noise, and had many features the Toyota didn't, including a long warranty. Just got back from an 1100 mile family trip (4 of us). Great ride, but disappointed with gas mileage. Only getting about 19.5 on the highway. But if the Electronic Stability Control was turned off, got about 22 mpg. This has to be fixed!

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.

Talk About The 2009 Santa Fe

Gas Mileage


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