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2012 Hyundai Santa Fe

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2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 6.2

The Hyundai Santa Fe started life as a low-cost but well-equipped alternative to more-popular compact SUVs. Over time, the Santa Fe has grown in size and price, but its initial mission remains the same. The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe compact SUV isn't so compact anymore. Its previous quirky styling has been replaced with a much more cohesive and upscale look. Made for tackling urban commutes as opposed to off-road jaunts, the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe is an excellent vehicle for fetching the kids from soccer practice, hauling back antiques from weekend shopping expeditions, or escaping to a snowy mountain ski resort for a weekend's worth of fun. Although the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV does not offer a third-row seat, its long list of standard and available features, good fuel economy, and outstanding 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty makes it worthy of serious consideration by compact SUV shoppers.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you know how to pinch a penny, you'll appreciate all the good features Hyundai puts into the 2012 Santa Fe while keeping it one of the most affordable compact SUVs.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you need the added utility of a third-row seat, eliminate the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe from your shopping list. Also, those looking for newer or more edgy styling should look to the Chevy Equinox or the Honda CR-V.

What's New for 2012

For 2012, the Santa Fe receives only minor changes. These include a new grille, some new color choices and the addition of Downhill Brake Control (DBC) on all models.

Driving the Santa Fe
Driving Impressions

For such a tall vehicle, the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV delivers a smooth and confident ride, with minimal lean and roll during hard cornering. Even when pushed into emergency...

... like maneuvers, the standard (and government-mandated) electronic stability control kicks in to keep things from getting ugly on wet or slippery pavement. It's easy to find a comfortable driving position in the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, although our front passenger complained about the rather flat seat bottom that, unlike on the driver's seat, cannot be angled upwards. With the exception of some wind noise in the front and road noise from the rear, the cabin remains fairly quiet at freeway speeds.

3.5-liter V6 Engine
Not only does the 2012 Santa Fe SUV's 276-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 deliver 100-plus more horsepower than the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, it also offers similar fuel economy.

Standard Features
One way Hyundai is muscling its way onto the shopping lists of long-time Toyota and Honda buyers is by offering a long list of standard features on its vehicles. The 2012 Santa Fe's long list of standards is enough to cause many to switch loyalties.

2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Details
Interior

The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe is full of high-quality plastics artfully blended with faux wood and, on some models, contrasting lower dash and door panels. The Santa Fe's instruments are neatly arranged under a hooded covering. Heating and audio controls are clustered together one atop the other and are easy to see, reach and operate. At night, the entire panel glows with blue backlighting, which produces mixed results: It makes the instruments easy to read after nightfall, but harder to see at dusk. Behind its roomy rear seat is 34.2-cubic-feet of cargo space. If you need more room, the 60/40 split folding second-row seats can be folded flat, creating 78.2 cubic-feet of level storage space.

Exterior

The Santa Fe compact SUV is a very different creature than the first vehicle to wear the Santa Fe name. Quirky lines and odd-looking grilles have given way to clean flowing lines, flush-mounted headlamps and taillights, and handsome alloy wheels. You won't find any tacked on body cladding on the 2012 Santa Fe. Unlike some smaller SUVs, it makes no pretense of being an off-road vehicle. A wide track helps give the Santa Fe a more substantial look that, from a distance, might easily be mistaken for a small Lexus SUV.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

One way Hyundai is muscling its way onto the shopping lists of long-time Toyota and Honda buyers is by offering a long list of standard features on its vehicles. The 2012 Santa Fe's long list of standards is enough to cause many to switch loyalties.

Optional Equipment

Most popular options can be grouped together in packages that vary depending upon trim level. All-wheel drive (AWD) is available for all Santa Fe models. Other options include heated front seats, a power outlet in the cargo area, 360-watt premium audio system, a power sunroof and a navigation system with a 6.5-inch screen and rearview camera.

Under the Hood

Hyundai offers two engines for the 2012 Santa Fe SUV: a 175-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder or a 276-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. The 4-cylinder is standard on the GLS and Limited models, while the V6 is standard on the SE and optional on the Limited. Both engines are paired to 6-speed transmissions. The 4-cylinder is more than just acceptable, but the V6 delivers substantially more power and roughly comparable fuel economy.

2.4-liter in-line 4
175 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
169 lb-ft of torque @ 3,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 (2WD, manual), 20/28 (2WD, automatic), 20/25 (AWD, automatic)

3.5-liter V6
276 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
248 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 (2WD), 20/26 (AWD)

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