Avg. Price Paid:$9,320 - $13,916
Original MSRP: $21,495 - $30,145
MPG: 17 City / 24 Hwy
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2008 Hyundai Santa Fe Interior

This interior review was written when the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe was new.

The interior of the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe was revamped as part of last year's redesign. Motor Week says the "interior design is the best yet from Hyundai." Even so, the Santa Fe's interior has trouble competing in a crowded class.

Many reviewers note that the interior has a high-quality look and feel, especially for its price. BusinessWeek says, "Santa Fe's interior is nice for such an inexpensive vehicle. The workmanship of the leather interior in my test vehicle was good, and the wood trim on the dash and doors added a touch of elegance." Consumer Guide adds, "More soft-touch surfaces would be nice, but the faux metal and wood trim is convincing, the headliner is handsome, and no plastics look cheap."

For the first time last year, the Santa Fe began offering an optional third row of seats, increasing passenger capacity to seven, though as USA Today says, the third row "should be considered a kids only area."


Reviewers are generally happy with the Santa Fe's first two rows of seats. MSN says, the front and second row seats "are roomy and occupants sit high." However, Edmunds found the driver's area uncomfortable: "One of our few complaints about the Santa Fe's interior involves the driving position: The seats are mounted too high up front, and short seat-bottom cushions provide minimal thigh support for taller adults." And the Chicago Tribune echoes another common complaint: "Inside, there's lots of space to flail arms and head in the front or second row, but second-row knee room is a tad confined unless you recline the seat backs."

The Santa Fe's standard third row allows seating for up to seven, though most reviews note that carrying adults in the third seat for all but the shortest rides would not be comfortable. USA Today says the third seat "should be considered a kids only area," and, as Autobytel quips, "Just avoid sitting back there for any length of time unless you have a thing for your chiropractor." Still, the back row is on par with other vehicles in its class. About.com finds the third row "unpleasant but not worse than its rivals" and says that access to it is "dead easy."

Interior Features

"Interior design is among the best yet from Hyundai," says Motor Week. MSN adds, "[T]he quiet, user-friendly interior has nice materials." Reviewers like that you don't have to go to the highest trim level to get a quality-looking interior. New Car Test Drive says "even the base GLS has nice luxury touches that include realistic looking, but fake wood-trim accents across the width of the dashboard, surrounding the shifter and along the door panels." Reviewers praise touches such as extendable visors, which The Auto Channel says "give just that much more sun protection to the front passengers."

Reviewers especially like the blue backlighting for controls at night, which even lights up the cupholders. The Chicago Tribune says it's "like adding a little jewelry to complement an outfit." Autobytel adds, "Take the Santa Fe for a drive a night and you'll be basked in a very trendy and hip looking blue glowing interior. Not only did Hyundai ensure every button, switch and display featured the same blue glow, it went as far to include blue lighting inside the front cup holders. Set a bottle of water inside and watch it glow an electric blue."

All versions of the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe come with cruise control and power windows, mirrors and doors. New for 2008 are a 605-watt Infinity sound system and sunroof, both standard on the Limited model. A new navigation system is optional, but you should also consider the affordable -- and portable -- options available. Check out our GPS reviews to learn more about what's offered.

Stereo and Entertainment

The 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe comes standard with a six-speaker sound system with XM radio, CD and MP3 capability. For an extra cost, buyers can add an extra speaker and subwoofer on the SE. On the Limited, buyers can add a new-for-2008 Infinity sound system with subwoofer. The SE and Limited trims also have an optional rear-seat entertainment system with DVD player, wireless headphones and a flip-down monitor.

Most reviewers don't comment on the sound quality, though MSN says, "the standard 112-watt system, with single CD player, isn't stirring." USA Today is not happy with the XM radio display: "Annoying display on the XM radio. It showed the artist and title only at the beginning of each new song, then reverted to telling you the channel name and number. That's the least-useful info, and Hyundai says you can't reprogram the display."


"Cargo volume is generous for class," says Consumer Guide. The Hyundai Santa Fe has 10 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row of seats. With the third row removed, the space increases to 34.2 cubic feet, "which is a lot," says BusinessWeek, adding, "There's also a handy storage box under the deck of the rear area where you can hide purses, cameras, computers or other valuables."

Many reviewers are impressed at the amount that this SUV can haul. "Although the Santa Fe is one of the smallest midsize SUVs in exterior dimensions it is far from being the smallest inside, a tribute to its space efficient design," says New Car Test Drive. And NewCars.com adds, "The Hyundai Santa Fe is likely a better choice than the average mini SUV with respect to transporting cargo, especially if you often need to carry a lot of suitcases or dogs."

Few reviewers comment on the ease of reconfiguring the seats, though Consumer Guide mentions, "all rear seats fold easily for extra cargo space; dropping third row forms level floor, but not with second row folded." Consumer Guide also finds interior cabin storage "good, but not exceptional."

Review Last Updated: 2/18/09

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