2008 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

Pros & Cons

  • Well-designed cabin, impressive standard safety features and crash test scores, competitive price, lengthy warranty, optional third-row seat.
  • Excessively firm ride on SE and Limited models, lackluster automatic transmission, disappointing driving dynamics.
List Price Range
$3,977 - $5,850

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Edmunds' Expert Review

High on value, safety and amenities, the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe is a very good choice for a midsize crossover SUV.

Vehicle overview

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.

2008 Hyundai Santa Fe models

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.

2008 Highlights

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.

Performance & mpg

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.

Safety

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Best SUV for your dollar
boxman_okc,05/29/2011
IMO this is the best SUV you can get for the money, especially if buying used. The cargo capacity is outstanding, including generous under-floor storage, the ride is very quiet, the mileage is surprisingly good (no worse than my previous Honda CR-V - a much smaller and noisier vehicle). With the Santa Fe you get the feeling of a refined, almost luxurious vehicle but with a bargain pricetag.
Great Family Hauler
Anthony Edu,03/16/2015
Limited 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A)
Owned the car brand new for about 7 years now and so far it has been good to us. A few recalls were taken care of warranty but one major repair expense outside of warranty was the rack and pinion ($1k/incld labor) since it was leaking heavily from the passenger side. Also, there are traces of oil leaking from the head valve gaskets after 90k. Regular oil maintenance for both engine and transmission have been done religiously according to recommended intervals. I'm expecting to pay another $1k @100k for spark plug and valve cover gasket replacement work. It seems that these cars were designed to crap out after warranty and when you're done paying off the loan...SMH Update as of 3/16/17: (~120k) Despite the issues we've experienced in the past. Our car is still going strong and still our daily driver that fits our family's needs. Keeping up with the regular maintenance makes sure of that. This vehicle goes out on 8 hour road trips through the mountains at least twice a year and haven't had to use AAA yet. (Knocks on wood) :-) Update as of 3/2018: Car is still running smooth. Rear shocks need replacing but that is from normal wear and tear. The gas gauge experienced problems and after replacing the fuel sender units the gauge still does not read properly. Besides those issues the car still runs and I believe we will run this car to the ground despite the important convenience of having to know how much of gas you have left in your tank accurately. SMH
Bad Rack and Pinion
Anthony Lupo,07/14/2010
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.
GREAT COMFORT AND WONDERFUL PRICE
C.Silor,06/11/2016
GLS 4dr SUV (2.7L 6cyl 4A)
Before I bought this SUV I did my homework, looked at all issues and prices and many pages of reviews from other owners, I love the wider stance it has, my '04 Jeep Liberty limited was narrow and very cramped, the A/C is great, shifting is smooth, I bought a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 2.7liter FWD 4speed automatic tranny, it rides smooth, MY husband is 6'2 and he said it's like sitting in a recliner, quiet cabin, rocking sound system, great location of vents, for passengers, amazing storage space, (my aunt just bought a 2015 Cadillac SUV and it has small storage area no spare tire or jack yuk and it feels cramped) when she seen my SUV she was amazed at the room and the price I got it used in 6/2016 with 67403 miles on it for $9500 I have searched around and found I got a HELL of a DEAL... Super happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! December 2017, still enjoy the car. I have about 108000 miles now from 67000 when I bought it. No issues, still runs and drives great... UPDATE DECEMBER 17TH 2016 Still love my 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe, very roomy have used it for myself and in-laws grocery shopping and have tons of room... no mechanical issues, rides straight and smooth.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe

Used 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe Overview

The Used 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe is offered in the following submodels: Santa Fe SUV. Available styles include GLS 4dr SUV (2.7L 6cyl 4A), GLS 4dr SUV AWD (2.7L 6cyl 4A), SE 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl 5A), Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl 5A), GLS 4dr SUV (2.7L 6cyl 5M), Limited 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A), GLS 4dr SUV AWD (2.7L 6cyl 5M), and SE 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl 5A).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe SE is priced between $5,490 and$5,850 with odometer readings between 137621 and187147 miles.
  • The Used 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS is priced between $3,977 and$3,977 with odometer readings between 226432 and226432 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2008 Hyundai Santa Fes are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2008 Santa Fes listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $3,977 and mileage as low as 137621 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Can't find a used 2008 Hyundai Santa Fes you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Hyundai Santa Fe for sale - 7 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $15,408.

Find a used Hyundai for sale - 1 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $10,140.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai Santa Fe for sale - 10 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $11,409.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai for sale - 9 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $15,095.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Hyundai lease specials
Check out Hyundai Santa Fe lease specials