The Hyundai Santa Fe has been around since 1991 and this was the first sports utility from this company. The cumbersome styling of the Santa Fe has been one of the many hurdles it has had to overcome through the years among other issues with a not so efficient engine and heavy altogether package. The Santa Fe has overcome most all of the initial issue that was presented by its design. The Ford Escape and Honda CR-V both have been a tough competition in the early years of the Santa Fe, but in recent years through a lot of redesigning and new engineering.

The newest renovations to the Santa Fe include the addition of a more powerful and very competitive engine and a much more recent and capable transmission package. The newer and larger SUV offers a much needed external overhaul as well. The 2011 Santa Fe comes with a much more fuel efficient 2.4 liter inline 4 cylinder engines and an optional upgrade to a 3.3 liter or 3.5 liter motor. There are other interior and exterior options packages available in the upgraded trim models of the Santa Fe.

Bodystyles: Crossover SUV
Engines: 2.4L I-4, 3.5L V-6
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
Models: GLS, SE, Limited

Following the mild refresh that took place for 2010, there are only minor changes for 2011. Last year’s new engines, the 2.4-liter four and 3.5-liter six, return. Also carrying over are the new wheels, front fascia, and new interior. The only changes: the GLS Premium Package is no longer available, and several color options have been updated.

The Santa Fe is a modern-looking, attractive crossover that received a minor refresh last year, with new wheels, grille, front bumper, taillights, and foglights. New shades of silver, white, red, gray, and brown are new for 2011.

Last year’s Santa Fe upgrades carry over: a touch-screen navigation system with rearview camera and XM Traffic are available, leather and cloth seats have been refined, Bluetooth and steering wheel audio controls are standard on all three models.

During testing of a 2011 Santa Fe GLS with the new 3.5-liter engine, the crossover recorded a 0-to-60 time of 7.4 seconds and a quarter mile time of 15.7 seconds at 90.1 mph — nice numbers for a 3,870-pound vehicle. The Santa Fe Limited with the 2.4-liter was predictably slower (10.6-second 0-to-60 and 17.7-second quarter mile). Both engines — each of which mated to a six-speed manual transmission — are solid in the mpg department, with combined ratings in the low 20s. The Santa Fe isn’t a great handler, but its overall ride is more than acceptable for a vehicle of this type.

Extensive safety equipment is standard on the Santa Fe. Disc brakes with ABS with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, six airbags — including rollover sensors for the side curtains — and stability control.

2.4L: 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway
3.5L: 20 mpg city/26mpg highway

  • Comfortable on straight roads
  • Good mileage
  • Plenty of power
  • Great price
  • Average handler
  • Still feels like the ‘old’ Hyundai

Cool, stylish, and loaded with value


  • Toyota RAV4
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