$9,807 - $12,407

2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe was new.


Performance: 7.2

The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe provides acceptable performance, but it doesn't stand out in its class. If you’re looking for something competent, it’s a good choice, but 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
  • "Behind the wheel, the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe is about as exciting to drive as it is to look at.” -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Santa Fe comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and an optional 3.5-liter V6. The base model and the top-of-the-line both come standard with the four-cylinder but offer the V6 as an option, while the SE trim comes standard with the V6. The four-cylinder engine makes 175 horsepower, while the larger V6 makes 276 horsepower. All models are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The EPA gives the 2.4-liter base engine a rating of 20/28 mpg city/highway with two-wheel drive, and 20/25 mpg with all-wheel drive. The V6 engine gets an estimated 20/26 mpg city/highway with both two- and all-wheel drive. That means the Santa Fe has some of the best fuel economy ratings in the class.

  • "The 4-cylinder engine sounds a bit unrefined while accelerating, but it fades away while cruising." -- Consumer Guide
  • "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." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say that the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe handles fairly well, despite some harshness that results from the 18-inch wheels that come standard on SE and Limited models. They say there’s some body lean through turns, but that’s common with most budget-oriented SUVs. The Santa Fe comes standard with front-wheel drive, but all trims offer optional all-wheel drive.

  • "Stable overall, though our testers are divided on the steering and brakes. Some find them linear and predictable. Others think the steering is lazy at low speeds, and the brake pedal feels spongy.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "The ride quality is good, though it can get a little harsh over rough pavement on models fitted with the 18-inch wheels." -- Edmunds
  • "The ride is good for its class, but handling could be better." -- Motor Trend

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