2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

Pros & Cons

  • Lots of features at an agreeable price
  • spacious cabin
  • generous cargo capacity
  • strong and efficient V6 engine
  • great warranty
  • simple controls.
  • Ride quality on SE and Limited might be too firm for some
  • aging styling.
List Price Range
$6,995 - $11,598

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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

Vehicle overview

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.

2012 Hyundai Santa Fe models

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.

2012 Highlights

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.

Performance & mpg

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.

Safety

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe.

5(39%)
4(25%)
3(10%)
2(14%)
1(12%)
3.7
28 reviews
Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Gas Mileage
ccr717,11/23/2011
Just purchased a 2012 Santa Fe two weeks ago. This is my fourth Santa Fe but this time I bought a 4 cylinder instead of a 6 thinking it would save a little more on gas mileage. Love everything about the vehicle but the gas mileage. I'm getting less with this one than my previous 2008 Santa Fe. I was told I would get a couple more miles per gallon but didn't expect to get less. It didn't benefit me like I thought it would to get the 4 cylinder. Wouldn't recommend a 4 cylinder over a 6 to anyone.
My second Santa Fe
jezirabid,01/26/2015
GLS 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A)
My first Santa Fe was a 2011 GLS, which someone hit while hubby was driving. Santa Fe was totaled, but the husband lived to tell the story. It rolled to one side, skidding a hundred feet before crashing into a median cement block directly in front of the police department. It did its job well for a direct high speed hit to the side. Which is why I bought ... My second Santa Fe, a 2012 - well worth its weight in gold, and came with a couple new features the '11 did not have. I searched long and hard and compared economy SUVs, and for the price and warranty, you can't beat this vehicle. Even used, Hyundai happily replaced a faulty door panel without hesitation. Excellent Customer serv
Best Car for the Money!
scot58,03/14/2012
I recently purchased a Santa Fe Limited AWD in Black Forest Green with the beige leather interior. It looks and runs like a dream. I considered the Toyota Highlander Limited and the Murano SL with leather, but those cars cost several thousand dollars more, get worse gas mileage, and the Santa Fe is their equal, if not better, in every way-- looks, ride, handling, etc. With the V6 it has excellent acceleration, and the electronics-- Bluetooth, satellite radio, HomeLink, etc. all work flawlessly. I have been waiting for something to rattle, break or go wrong, but the car is absolutely solid. I am very pleased with my purchase, and strongly recommend the Santa Fe.
The Santa Fe SE is a nice vehicle
coldrink,03/07/2012
I have had a 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe SE for about six months. So far, I am very pleased with it. It is comfotable and fun to drive. It has the 3.5L 6 cylinder engine and it runs good. It is swift. It has lots of pep and that is important to me. On the one short road trip it has been on, it got about 24 mpg. In town it gets between 18 and 20 mpg. It is a very nice vehicle. I would recommend the Santa Fe it to anyone, but I would want the 3.5L engine.

Features & Specs

MPG
20 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
276 hp @ 6300 rpm
MPG
20 city / 25 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
175 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
20 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
276 hp @ 6300 rpm
MPG
20 city / 28 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
175 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall2 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall2 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger1 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat1 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover17.4%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe

Used 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Overview

The Used 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe is offered in the following submodels: Santa Fe SUV. Available styles include Limited 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A), GLS 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl 6A), Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A), Limited 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SE 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A), GLS 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 6A), SE 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A), GLS 4dr SUV AWD (3.5L 6cyl 6A), and GLS 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited is priced between $6,995 and$11,598 with odometer readings between 96154 and158970 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS is priced between $7,500 and$10,998 with odometer readings between 104259 and117155 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 2012 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) 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe for sale near. There are currently 9 used and CPO 2012 Santa Fes listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,995 and mileage as low as 96154 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 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Can't find a used 2012 Hyundai Santa Fes you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Hyundai Santa Fe for sale - 4 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $16,128.

Find a used Hyundai for sale - 12 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $15,382.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai Santa Fe for sale - 10 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $12,279.

Find a used certified pre-owned Hyundai for sale - 1 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $21,279.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 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
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