2011 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV

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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 3.5 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 276 hp @ 6300 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/26 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe

  • An affordable price tag, a long list of standard comfort and safety features and two impressive engines make the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe a commendable midsize crossover SUV choice.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Lots of features at an agreeable price; spacious cabin; generous cargo capacity; strong and efficient V6 engine; great warranty; simple controls.

  • Cons

    Ride quality on SE and Limited may be too firm for some; design's getting on in years.

  • What's New for 2011

    After significant updates last year, the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe carries over largely unchanged. The Limited trim gets a new, standard 10-speaker Infinity surround-sound system.

Full 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

What's New for 2011

After significant updates last year, the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe carries over largely unchanged. The Limited trim gets a new, standard 10-speaker Infinity surround-sound system.


The 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe is the big kid in its class. Though its price, equipment and general character makes it comparable to the small crossovers from Chevy, Honda and Toyota, this plus-sized Hyundai boasts more interior space than them all. Unlike the big kid in the class, though, the Santa Fe has been bullied a bit over the years and hasn't enjoyed the popularity of its rivals. Yet that doesn't mean it's not worth a look, especially in light of the new engines introduced last year.

The Santa Fe is getting on in years, which would explain why it doesn't boast the same curvaceous styling inside and out as the Hyundai Tucson compact crossover. Yet the Santa Fe was one of the first vehicles from Hyundai to establish a reputation for durability, something the entire brand enjoys today. It also maintains the traditional Hyundai trademarks of a low price, generous equipment, a lengthy warranty and simple controls that can be figured out by young and old.

Like most vehicles in this class of big "compact" crossovers, the Santa Fe comes standard with a four-cylinder engine that should be powerful enough and fuel-efficient enough for most buyers. Much like the Toyota RAV4, however, the Santa Fe's V6 is the smart choice as it matches the smaller engine's fuel economy while besting it by 101 horsepower. That's what we call a win-win.

As a shopper, it can be difficult to choose in this category, since there's a wide range of impressive crossovers from which to pick. Of the bigger variety, we suggest checking out the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox, 2011 Honda CR-V, 2011 Kia Sorento, 2011 Subaru Outback and the 2011 Toyota RAV4. The RAV4 and the Sorento offer a third-row seat -- a feature the Santa Fe once had but has since been discontinued. †a third-row seat -- a feature the Santa Fe once had but has since been discontinued. The 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe is getting along in years and isn't really a class leader, but if you're looking for the biggest of the biggest compact crossovers, it's your best choice.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe is a five-passenger crossover SUV available in GLS, SE and Limited trim levels.

Standard equipment on the base GLS includes 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, roof side rails, heated mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, rear seat air vents, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, an iPod/USB audio interface and satellite radio.

The Santa Fe SE gets 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, a windshield wiper de-icer, roof rack cross rails, an eight-way power driver seat with adjustable lumbar, leather/cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Premium package adds a sunroof, a rearview camera, a touchscreen navigation system and an upgraded audio system.

The Santa Fe Limited adds a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, full leather upholstery and a 10-speaker Infinity surround-sound audio system with a six-CD changer. The rearview camera and navigation system are also available for the Limited.

Powertrains and Performance

The Hyundai Santa Fe GLS and Limited come standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 175 hp and 169 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the GLS, while a six-speed automatic is optional on the GLS and standard on the Limited. Front-wheel drive is standard on all Santa Fe trims and all-wheel drive is optional. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined with the automatic and 19/26/21 with the manual.

Standard on the SE and optional on the Limited is a 3.5-liter V6 good for 276 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard. In Edmunds performance testing, this engine brought the Santa Fe from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds -- a strong performance for this segment. EPA-estimated fuel economy is a solid 20/26/23.


Every 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe comes standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, brake assist, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is optional. In Edmunds brake testing, a Santa Fe Limited came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet -- a perfectly average distance.

The Santa Fe has not been rated using the government's new, more strenuous 2011 crash testing procedures. Its 2010 ratings (which aren't comparable to 2011 tests) were a perfect five stars in all frontal and side crash categories. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Santa Fe its highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset and side crash categories.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Santa Fe doesn't enjoy the organic modernistic curves of the cabin in Hyundai's newer Tucson, but it nevertheless offers a relatively elegant environment compared to the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Quality of materials and their fitment are pretty much par for the course, with plenty of hard plastics thankfully broken up by soft touch points. The Santa Fe benefits from extremely simple controls, even with the available navigation system.

Some buyers may find it hard to get comfortable behind the wheel because of the overly high seating position and short bottom cushions that offer taller drivers minimal thigh support. The second row offers an above-average level of comfort, but doesn't slide like many of its competitors' seats do.

Cargo capacity is a standout attribute of the Santa Fe, with its 78 cubic feet of maximum space eclipsing the RAV4, CR-V and Subaru Forester, while greatly outpacing midsize models like the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano. You'd have to step up to a large crossover to enjoy more.

Driving Impressions

On the road, the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe offers predictable if not exciting handling, characterized by plenty of body roll and artificial feel to the steering. The ride quality is generally good, though models fitted with the larger 18-inch wheels tend to be a bit harsh on rough pavement. With either engine, the Santa Fe delivers good acceleration relative to other four-cylinder vehicles in its class, though the V6 is certainly the more impressive of the two, since it matches the lesser engine's fuel mileage as well.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Loving it...

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe SE 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

I am very pleased with my Santa Fe! It is just the right car for me... size, performance... value... All the things that matter.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Bad value

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

I own two 2011 santa fe's and four 2005 santa fe's..the maintenance costs for the 2011's are triple the 2005's for the first 35, 000 miles. I wish I had not purchased the 2011"s. I am really disspapointed after owning the 05"s. they went downhill...I have gone thru 4 front hub bearings, 3 lower ball joints, 2 tierod ends, 4 sway bar links, 3 power steering pumps in the 2011"s and it is still not over.

Cost to own

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

The good news is that this is a great road car and does a nice job in snowy weather. On mixed town and highway i'm getting 23.5 mpg. Now for the bad news, with just a little over $26,000 miles I'm looking at a total maintenance cost of just over $1,300. this is well over the Edmunds figure. the 15k service was $282. the 30k will be $550. I'm also expected to have serivce to the rear differential and transfer cases @$120 each. Finally, there is some filter that needs to be replaced at 30k that will cost $250.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

My last hyundai

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

Bought a 2011 on 01/15/2011 started experiencing transmission prob late 2011, Jan 2012 vehicle no longer wants to go into park or reverse need to turn off and turn on. only driver and 8000 miles. Customer service is non-existent everyone bouncing me around cannot provide me with a loaner to get around my sales rep tells me he is no mechanic the dealer where bought sends me to another dealer really? I traded it and got me an escape trust this works better at least I know their customer service is way better having had a ford before

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

I really like my santa

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

I bought the "bait and switch" car from the newspaper ad, so I think I got a very good price. It's stripped down, 4 cylinder, front wheel drive, but has the bluetooth, ipod connector, hands-free phone, and radio controls on the steering wheel. today, it's 1 year old, 10,000 miles. Mileage is about 22 in the city but rises to 26+ on the highway if I keep to 65 and use the "manual" feature of the automatic transmission to force it to stay in 6th gear. I also drive conservatively in general. It will get up and go if you ask it to, but mpg's will suffer.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Poor gas mileage

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

The MPG, when having first purchased the Hyundai Santa Fe, was upwards of 25.5 on trips and around 22 to 23 in the city driving. This was the prime reason I got rid of my Dodge Dakota which was giving me 16MPG/18MPG city/highway respectively. My total driven miles since the lease of my Santa Fe are 3800 +/- as of 12/12/11. About a week ago, 12/05/11, the MPG had decreased to 19.0 MPG on trips and very little change in city driving. I filled the tank and noted that the MPG reading went back up to 24.0 MPG for a few miles then dropped back to 19.0 MPG whether I was on the road at a constant 60 MPH or driving in the city at 30 MPH . Checking the actual miles driven since the last fill-up (on 12/12/11) with the gallons of gas consumed, i.e. Miles/Gallons used, the MPG calculated to 18.0 MPG. Why?? The odometer resets the MPG after fill up. Iím up to 19.8MPG having driven 3 miles from the gas station and will continue to monitor the MPG to see if it reaches the expected MPG (the reason I purchased a Hyundai) I brought the car to the dealership (where leased on 09/12/11) to have the problem checked and they werenít able to find any problem other than the tire pressure was down by 3 psi. Our temp had fallen to below freezing that day but even so, when the problem first occurred, the temp was in the 60ís. Has anyone else experienced a similar problem and if so, is there a solution?

Talk About The 2011 Santa Fe

2011 Hyundai Santa Fe Discussions See all Started By

My wife had a Hyundai remote start installed on her new 2011 Santa Fe Limited. I recently asked her why she never seems to use it and she said it does not turn on heat or air when you remote start un...

I recently bought a 2011 Santa Fe with 27,000 km. On three separate occasions I have put the key in the ignition, the starter turned over fine but engine would not fire and/or start. I believe there a...

Dealership offered $13,998 (final offer) for 2011 Santa Fe GLS. It has the following:...

Read more about the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe

Gas Mileage


  • 20
  • cty
  • 26
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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