$4,494 - $6,541

2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe was new.


Performance: 7.3

The Santa Fe provides acceptable performance, but it doesn't stand out. For 2009, the SE and Limited models get cross rails and a standard trailer prep that allows them to tow up to 3,500 pounds.

  • "Good ride and handling; overall driving experience is class competitive; eager acceleration with the V-6." -- Car and Driver
  • "Pleasant and competent, if less sporty, precise, or car-like than the Nissan Murano or Honda Pilot. The tight turning radius aids close-quarters maneuvering." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Overall, the driving experience is transparent, meaning there is nothing outstanding, negatively or positively. The steering has a pleasant feel, neither too tight nor too loose, the brakes work well if not dramatically, the ride is smooth and the vehicle is quiet." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "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." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Santa Fe comes with either a 185-horsepower, 2.7-liter V6 engine or a larger 242-horsepower, 3.3-liter V6 engine. The 2.7-liter comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission, though it's available with a four-speed automatic. The 3.3-liter V6 only comes with a five-speed automatic. Most reviewers find that the bigger engine is the better choice, since it's much more powerful and doesn't come with a penalty in fuel economy. According to the EPA, all models get 17/24 mpg except those with two-wheel drive, the base 2.7-liter V6 and the automatic four-speed, which gets 18/24 mpg.

  • "The Shiftronic automatic transmission responds quickly to manual gear selections making driving on curvy roads an almost sporty experience." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The GLS with the 2.7-liter V6 is slow to build speed and loses steam going up moderate grades. The 3.3-liter V6 gives other models adequate pep and is the better all-around choice." -- Consumer Guide
  • "A slightly sluggish 2.7-liter, 185-hp V6 inhabits the GLS... The much peppier 3.5-liter V6 puts out 242 hp with the same fuel economy numbers." -- Car Gurus
  • "The 3.3 V6 provides lively acceleration in the city and good passing on highways, with a responsive automatic transmission. But the Santa Fe is appreciably slower with the smaller V6 because it's fairly heavy at 3,727 to 3,945 pounds." -- MSN

Handling and Braking

One of the major improvements in the redesigned 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe is the handling, which most reviewers find both smooth and comfortable.

  • "The all-new unibody chassis has been specifically tuned for better on-road handling, and our test drive bore that out. Better balance from the front- and all-wheel-drive models is a significant improvement over the previous gen, due in large part to a crisper steering response." -- Motor Trend
  • "Small bumps are smothered well, regardless of tire size. Large bumps induce uncomfortable bounce and sideways rocking, plus some minor vibration through the floor and steering column." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Braking is a little on the long side however, with emergency stops from 60 averaging 135 feet." -- Motor Week

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