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2009 Hyundai Santa Fe

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2009 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

A great midsize crossover SUV with an impressive safety rating.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe is one of the vehicles responsible for the boost in Hyundai's reputation. Due to the new Santa Fe and several other vehicles in Hyundai’s recent lineup, the company is now considered a brand that offers the perfect combination of quality and affordability. Even though the first generation of the Santa Fe looks rather odd and met with poor reception, the second generation of this midsize crossover SUV debuted in 2008 stunning the automotive world and making it take the versatility of Hyundai seriously. The newer Santa Fe design resembles many upscale crossover SUV options while the interior includes multiple features to make it border on the luxury classification despite its affordable baseline price.

When it comes to transporting multiple people on a frequent basis, trying to find a reliable and spacious vehicle can be rather difficult. A decade ago, drivers found it downright impossible to find a roomy form of transportation that offered smooth handling and a stylish design. Vans, mini-vans, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) offered the only options. However, recent years have allowed for a new option that has the ability to combine space, drivability, and a sleek look in the form of crossover vehicles. A crossover SUV tends to offer the best selection for cargo room, passenger space, and a smooth driving experience. Within the category of crossover SUVs, the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe stands out of the crowd as a unique vehicle with a low cost.

The Range

Body Styles: crossover
Engines: 2.7-liter V-6, 3.3-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed manual, five-speed automatic
Models: Hyundai Santa Fe GLS, Hyundai Santa Fe SE, Hyundai Santa Fe Limited

What's New

Since the Hyundai Santa Fe underwent such a massive redesign and rebuild for the 2008 release, the 2009 Santa Fe makes only one minor change to the new base model. The alterations stay rather conservative as well. All 2009 Santa Fe models now come standard with upgraded stereos and standard iPod and USB inputs. The 2009 Santa Fe SE and 2009 Santa Fe Limited now include roof rack cross rails and a towing prep package as part of the standard features.


The exterior design of the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe embraces the smooth curves and sleek design of the more luxurious crossover SUV brands. The layout of the vehicle keeps to the new style of fitting a great deal of space within a smaller package. Each of the three trim levels of the 2009 Santa Fe brings its own special addition to this primary design. The base GLS features 16-inch alloy wheels and keeps the exterior frills to a minimum so that it resembles a large sporty car. Both the SE and Limited prefer to go with slightly more rugged tweaks that include 18-inch alloy wheels and the newly available roof rack cross rails as part of the standard package.


While the exterior of the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe is conservative yet tasteful, the interior really gets the royal treatment. The 2009 Santa Fe uses quality materials throughout the interior cabin to give it a luxurious feel. Blue lighting for all instruments, combined with an optional addition of a 10-speaker Infinity sound system, give the vehicle a very modern feel.

The 2009 Santa Fe GLS standard package includes useful interior features such as cruise control and a six-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack, and a USB port. The mid-level SE model adds a more luxurious flair with its standard features of an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a trip computer, and steering wheel-mounted audio controls. The Limited model marks the top of the line with an added sunroof, leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, heated seats, a premium Infinity audio system with a six-CD changer, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Performance & Handling

The standard Hyundai Santa Fe GLS contains a 2.7-liter V-6 engine that produces 185 horsepower and 183 lb-ft of torque. The SE and Limited versions of the Santa Fe get an upgrade in power with a larger 3.3-liter V-6 engine that generates 242 horsepower and 226 lb-ft of torque. In terms of transmission, the five-speed manual comes standard for the base engine while the five-speed automatic remains optional. The larger 3.3-liter V-6 pairs with a five-speed automatic. In terms of actual performance, the 3.3-liter V-6 can go from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds. When properly equipped, it can even tow up to 3500 pounds. All 2009 Santa Fe models offer either all-wheel drive or front drive.


The wide array of safety features available on the 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe marks one of the vehicle’s best qualities. The standard safety package includes front-seat side airbags, full-length head curtain airbags, active front-seat head restraints, stability control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes. The 2009 Santa Fe receives a perfect five-star rating in both frontal and side-impact government crash tests.

EPA Fuel Economy

Hyundai Santa Fe: 17/24 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Safety
  • Affordability
  • Cabin design

You Won't Like

  • Disappointing driving dynamics
  • Firm ride

Sum Up

A great midsize crossover SUV with an impressive safety rating.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Honda Pilot
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Nissan Murano

See the New 2014 Santa Fe.

Front & Driver Side View