2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
The Santa Fe provides acceptable performance, but it doesn't stand out in its class. If you’re looking for a more exciting driving experience, check out the Mazda CX-7. More information about the Santa Fe's real-world driving performance can be found by watching our Santa Fe video.
- "Good ride and handling; overall driving experience is class competitive; eager acceleration with the V-6." -- Car and Driver
- "Smaller crossover SUVs like the Mazda CX-7 and Mitsubishi Outlander are sportier and more rewarding to drive hard, though the Santa Fe's handling is certainly composed and can actually be fun at times. The trade-off is that the ride can be very busy on the highway on models with the larger wheels. During normal driving, the brake pedal feels about right, but can get soft during hard braking." -- Edmunds
- "Overall, the driving experience is transparent, meaning there is nothing outstanding, negatively or positively. The steering has a pleasant feel, neither too tight nor too loose, the brakes work well if not dramatically, the ride is smooth and the vehicle is quiet." -- New Car Test Drive
Acceleration and Power
The 2010 Santa Fe comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and an available 3.5-liter V6. The base model gets the four-cylinder, while the SE and Limited come with the V6. The four-cylinder engine makes 175 horsepower and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission or an available six-speed automatic. The larger V6 makes 276 horsepower and is paired with the six-speed automatic transmission.
The EPA gives the 2.4-liter base engine a rating of 19/26 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission. Hyundai estimates it will earn 20/28 mpg with the automatic. Hyundai estimates the V6 will net 20/26 mpg city/highway. While the Santa Fe’s fuel economy is quite good for its class, a few competitors net more miles per gallon. Most notable is the Mazda CX-7, which has a 20/28 mpg base fuel economy rating and is a lot more fun to drive.
- "The Shiftronic automatic transmission responds quickly to manual gear selections making driving on curvy roads an almost sporty experience." -- Kelley Blue Book
- “The four-banger is new, and is being used for the first time in any Hyundai; it generates 175 hp and 169 lb-ft of torque, down from the V-6's 185 hp and 183 lb-ft. Even with less power, Hyundai promises quicker 0-to-60-mph sprints.” -- Car and Driver
Handling and Braking
One of the major improvements in the recently redesigned 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe is the handling, which most found both smooth and comfortable. However, the driving experience isn’t as exciting as some reviewers would have liked. Braking distances are also a little long for the class.
- "Small bumps are smothered well, regardless of tire size. Large bumps induce uncomfortable bounce and sideways rocking, plus some minor vibration through the floor and steering column." -- Consumer Guide
- "[A]s is the trend in SUVs and crossovers, the Santa Fe is built using unibody construction for a car-like ride and more responsive handling. The benefit for consumers, of course, is refinement. Bumps and road blemishes are isolated from the cabin by the frame and suspension, dissipating jolts so that passengers remain comfortable." -- Autobytel
- "The all-new unibody chassis has been specifically tuned for better on-road handling, and our test drive bore that out. Better balance from the front- and all-wheel-drive models is a significant improvement over the previous gen, due in large part to a crisper steering response." -- Motor Trend
- "Braking is a little on the long side however, with emergency stops from 60 averaging 135 feet." -- Motor Week