2012 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 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 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe

  • Though it's a little short on style, the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe is a respectable choice for a crossover SUV.

  • 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 might be too firm for some; aging styling.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe receives just a few small improvements including the addition of standard hill-descent brake control and low rolling-resistance tires on GLS models.

Full 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe receives just a few small improvements including the addition of standard hill-descent brake control and low rolling-resistance tires on GLS models.


If the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe were a person, it would be a straight-talking, unpretentious guy. Sure, maybe he's not the flashy bad boy who'll sweep you off your feet, but he's quietly dependable and easy to like. He's the guy you marry, not the one you date in college.

Along those lines, there's nothing flashy about the Santa Fe, even compared to the other vehicles in Hyundai's lineup. Yet the fact that this relatively plain-looking crossover hasn't been restyled in a while doesn't necessarily detract from its good qualities. Topping the list is an interior that's larger than those in crossovers like the Chevy Equinox, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. An affordable MSRP, a generous list of standard features and lengthy warranty coverage also make it worthy of consideration.

The biggest issue for buyers looking at the Santa Fe might be the sheer number of newer, attractive choices in this segment. Sure, a family crossover is unlikely to have that bad boy personality, but several offer more style and personality than the Santa Fe as well as the best-selling Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. The Equinox and its GMC Terrain twin are among these, yet are plenty practical in their own right. The same applies to the Kia Sorento, which has the added benefit of a third-row seat. The smaller Hyundai Tucson is also worth considering if you value style over practicality.

But practicality is a big reason to buy a family crossover, and to this end, the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe has the kind of sensible personality with which it's worth settling down.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe is a five-passenger crossover SUV available in GLS, SE and Limited trim levels.

Standard equipment on the entry-level GLS includes 17-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, roof rails, heated mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control, full power accessories, air-conditioning with rear seat vents, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a trip computer, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

The midrange SE gets 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglamps, a windshield wiper de-icer, roof rack cross rails and a rear spoiler. Inside there's leather and cloth upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat with adjustable lumbar, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 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, full leather upholstery, heated front seats, a 115-volt AC household-style power outlet and a 10-speaker Infinity surround-sound audio system with a six-CD changer. The Navigation package besides the obvious adds the touchscreen and rearview camera.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS and Limited models come standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that puts out 175 horsepower and 169 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on every Santa Fe, as is front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available as an option. The Santa Fe achieves EPA fuel economy estimates of 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined with front-wheel drive and 20/25/22 with all-wheel drive.

A 3.5-liter V6 good for 276 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque is standard on the SE and optional on Limited models. In Edmunds performance testing, a V6-powered Santa Fe went from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds -- a strong performance for this segment. Despite its greater power, the fuel economy of the V6 is better than the four-cylinder. EPA estimates stand at 20/26/23 with front-wheel drive and 20/26/22 with all-wheel drive.


Every 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. There's also a new hill-descent brake control feature designed to help manage driving down steep hills with slippery surfaces. A rearview camera is optional. In Edmunds brake testing, a Santa Fe Limited came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet -- an average distance for the segment.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Santa Fe its highest rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

Like the exterior, the Santa Fe's passenger cabin is on the plain side, with clear, easy-to-read gauges and simple, user-friendly controls. The quality of the materials is decent enough, with cheap-feeling hard plastics broken up by strategically placed bits of softer materials.

Up front, the unnaturally high seating position may feel awkward to some drivers, and long-legged drivers will likely find the short bottom cushions don't provide enough thigh support. The rear seat gets higher marks for comfort, though it lacks the ability to slide and recline as those in many other crossovers can.

When it comes to schlepping stuff instead of people, the Santa Fe shines with 78 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seatbacks folded down. That number beats the CR-V, RAV4 and Forester and actually comes pretty close to larger midsize models like the Ford Explorer.

Driving Impressions

Behind the wheel, the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe is about as exciting to drive as it is to look at. That is to say the handling is predictable though the driving experience is far from lively, marked by significant body roll and an artificial steering feel. The ride quality is good, though it can get a little harsh over rough pavement on models fitted with the 18-inch wheels.

With the 2.4-liter four-cylinder, acceleration is on par with similarly powered competitors. The 3.5-liter V6 engine delivers noticeably better performance and, considering the fact that the fuel economy numbers are so close, buyers who feel they need the extra power don't have much to lose for going that route.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Very satisfied with this suv

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

We bought this suv new over two years ago. We absolutely love it. We have not had a single problem with it. Other than the seats being a little hard for me I can't think of a single thing I would like to change. Smooth riding, good acceleration and very good gas mileage.

Bought used, driven for 4

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

Bought used, I have driven it for 4 months and 5000km now. Ride is a little rough, you can feel and hear some little bumps in the road. The fan and AC system sometimes has a mind of its own. It will turn on by itself after I turn it off. Although I'm starting to figure out how to get around it by adjusting the fan speed then hit OFF. Driving on highway to merge and stepping on accelerator, sometimes there will be a dead spot on how far you push the accelerator. The car will hesitate or not accelerate as fast as you want to for 2 seconds, then accelerate normally. It is roomy and comfortable inside. The center armrest between driver and passenger sometimes creaks. Overall not a bad car.

Piece of junk

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

the sante fe is one big piece of junk. I purchased it new GLS V6 AWD and have had several minor issues with it. The biggest being the AWD DOES NOT WORK! it has a ton of cheap parts inside and out and is just a bunch of junk overall. Me and my parents have owned mercedes, chevys, cadillacs, and fords and this vehicle is one of the worst! HYUNDAI DOES NOT TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR VEHICLES, no matter how good they might look.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

Our santa fe is three

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Vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

We do not like the ride it hits very hard . to me there is simething wrong with the supension. Is this normal , Do anyone feel the same way I would love to hear from you

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

New 2012 santa fe

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Vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A)

Purchased this car new & do not like it. Seems to hesitate while accellerating. At a stop light,stop sign, or going slow when you press the accelerater the car hesitates and takes a second to finally go. Cannot make any fast decisions. Tried to go into traffice from a stop sign quickly,car hesitated & I almost go into a accident. Makes you drive completely different from the way you normally drive. Does not happen every time,but 2-3 times a day. Took car back to the dealer,they test drove,pulled the computer results,said all looks fine. Was told the computer controls the accelerator & it takes a while for the accelerator to go to the computer then back to the accelerator.Trying to unload it

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Great car

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A)

Had this 3.5 Santa fe about 3 months.Love the power the engine has. We owned a 2011 2.4 liter santa fe before and hated the engine.Had no power at all. Make shure you get the 3.5 engine . Its like a whole diferent carr. We love it.

Talk About The 2012 Santa Fe

Gas Mileage


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

Identifix Reliability Ratings

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