$7,339 - $10,174

2011 Hyundai Santa Fe Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Hyundai Santa Fe was new.


Performance: 7.3

The Santa Fe provides acceptable performance, but it doesn't stand out in its class. If you’re looking for something comfortable, it’s a good choice, but it is by no means a class leader.

  • "Good ride and handling; overall driving experience is class competitive; eager acceleration with the V-6." -- Car and Driver
  • "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
  • "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

Acceleration and Power

The 2011 Santa Fe comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or an optional 3.5-liter V6. The four-cylinder engine makes 175 horsepower and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. The larger V6 makes 276 horsepower and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The EPA gives the four-cylinder Santa Fe a rating of 20/25 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission or 20/28 mpg with the automatic. The V6 Santa Fe gets an estimated 20/26 mpg city/highway. The Santa Fe has some of the best fuel economy in the class – especially for a midsize SUV that’s not a hybrid.

  • “While we understand the thinking behind dumping the outgoing model's uninspiring 2.7-liter V6 for the much less thirsty new four-cylinder, the real-world fuel economy advantage it offers is negligible. If you can swing it, the new 3.5-liter V6 is the way to go.” -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

One of the selling points for the Hyundai Santa Fe is the ride, which most critics find smooth and comfortable. However, the handling isn’t as exciting as some reviewers would like. Braking distances are also a little long for the class.

  • "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
  • "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
  • "Braking is a little on the long side however, with emergency stops from 60 averaging 135 feet." -- Motor Week

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