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2001 Hyundai Santa Fe

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2001 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

Although the 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe is a competitive, roomy SUV, it features some questionable design choices that will make you rethink whether it's right for you.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe has some excellent qualities that will make it suitable for some drivers, while other qualities make it a bit questionable. It lacks the power and clearance that drivers need to truly venture off-road. It also has a style that will make some buyers cringe.

On the positive side, it offers an impressive list of features and a roomy interior that almost pushes it into the midsize SUV realm. Since it handles like a car, it could be the perfect solution for families that don't want to commit to a full-fledged SUV but need more space than a sedan offers.

The Range

  • Body Styles: SUV
  • Engines: 2.4-liter four-cylinder, 2.7-liter V-6
  • Transmissions: five-speed manual transmission, four-speed automatic transmission
  • Models: Hyundai Santa Fe GL, Hyundai Santa Fe GLS, Hyundai Santa Fe LX

What's New

The Hyundai Santa Fe debuts in 2001.


The 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe supposedly has an exterior aesthetic that recalls desert landscapes. It's hard to know exactly what that means, but Hyundai seems confident that it communicates something to potential buyers. It has an aggressive front styling and big wheels that make it look like an off-roader (read on to find out why that's only marginally true). The Santa Fe obviously shares a design lineage with the Sonata Sedan and Tiburon Coupe, which is appealing to some, and a turn-off to others.


The 2001 Santa Fe is small enough to fit in with mini-SUVs, but just barely. It offers a lot of interior space that ensures passengers feel comfortable. It also has plenty of cargo space. Even with someone sitting in the rear seat, you still get 29 cubic feet of storage. A 60/40-split folding rear seat means that you can get even more room when you need it. Those are big advantages for buyers who don't need a full-size SUV, but also don't want something too small.

The 2001 Santa Fe has a reasonable list of interior features, especially for its modest price. It comes standard with air-conditioning, a CD player, power windows, and an adjustable driver's seat that offers lumbar support. The GLS adds a few more interior features: cruise control, power locks, and even a first-aid kit. Bump it up to the LX model and you get leather seating.

Performance & Handling

The 2001 Santa Fe SUV comes standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that offers 150 hp. Most drivers will find that engine a little skimpy when it comes to power. The 2.7-liter V-6 offers 180 hp, which is considerably better, but still not the kind of power that you can get excited about. Still, this isn't intended to be a muscle-bound midsize SUV that costs an arm and a leg. Considering the price, 180 hp isn't too shabby.

Luckily, you won't find many inline four versions of the Santa Fe on dealer lots. It's only available with the front-wheel-drive versions. Most dealerships will automatically (and correctly) assume that buyers have more interest in four-wheel-drive versions, making the inline four harder to find. Who would spend a lot of time looking for a smaller, less powerful engine in an SUV that doesn't offer four-wheel drive?

While the 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe only has adequate power, it has excellent handling. Put it on a paved surface and you could swear that you're driving a compact car rather than an SUV.

The Santa Fe is supposed to be an off-road vehicle, but it’s hard to imagine driving it on anything other than well-worn trails. It might have a suspension that could manage off-road conditions, but with just 7.4 inches of ground clearance it's doubtful that the 2001 Santa Fe could truly take on rough trails.


The 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe comes with ventilated front disc/solid rear disc brakes and electronic brake force distribution. The ability to stop as quickly as possible is always good, but it could cause Santa Fe drivers some problems: the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Santa Fe its lowest rating (""poor"") for rear crash protection/head restraint. Considering that it received the IIHS's top rating (""good"") in frontal offset tests, you might be better off bumping the car in front of you than getting hit by the car behind you.

Notable safety features include fog lights, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, rear door child safety locks, and child seat anchors.

EPA Fuel Economy

  • Hyundai Santa Fe: 19/26 mpg city/highway
  • Hyundai Santa Fe: 17/24 mpg city/highway
  • Hyundai Santa Fe LX: 17/24 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Excellent warranty
  • Plenty of room for passengers
  • Good price

You Won't Like

  • Four-wheel drive isn't that great
  • Powertrain fails to impress

Sum Up

Although the 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe is a competitive, roomy SUV, it features some questionable design choices that will make you rethink whether it's right for you.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Ford Escape
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Honda CR-V

See the New 2014 Santa Fe.


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