Simple controls; plethora of features at an agreeable price; great warranty; voluptuous interior; efficient and strong V6 powerplant; generous cargo space.


Ride quality on Limited and SE may be too form for some; rear seat doesn’t recline or slide; aging styling.


2012 Hyundai Santa Fe is a five-passenger, stylish crossover, which will surely appeal to those seeking utility, refinement and safety. Though it is a little short on style, it is a respectable choice for a crossover sport utility vehicle. For 2012, it gains few small enhancements, including the addition of low resistance tires and hill descent brake control on GLS models. The Santa Fe is engineered to impress at every turn, and designed with fluid lines which convey composure and confidence. The dynamic firm stance of Santa Fe invites you to start the ignition and enjoy the ride. Available sunroof, folding side mirrors, available body-colored rear spoiler, concealed exhaust pipes and stylish roof rack side rails are just a few of design features which set Santa Fe apart in this crowded crossover utility vehicle segment.

Santa Fe was the 1st Hyundai vehicle to roll out of their design center in Irvine, California. The model technicians, designers and makers at their $30 million plant gave Santa Fe a clean, timeless lines which are space-efficient but not boxy and aerodynamic but not anonymous. The tailgate handle is intuitively placed on right and large providing you easy access to rear cargo area of the vehicle. This distinctive design helps minimize frustration many have with closing and opening a crossover utility vehicle rear hatch. The true standouts excel at a number of things. The refined Hyundai Santa Fe is just such a vehicle. Some models pride themselves on their space for people and cargo, while some have design on their side. Others provide a great ride or a good price. But with equal parts resourceful utility, road-holding agility and sophisticated styling, the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe is a CUV that does it all. With a variety of models to choose from including GL Premium, GL, Limited and GL Sport, the Santa Fe provides a sure-footed ride in either all-wheel-drive or two-wheel drive configuration.

In a design this pleasing to the eye, there are no incomplete thoughts or extraneous lines. The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe combines modern accents with stunning curves for striking a perfect balance of state-of-the-art functionality and styling. Standard alloy wheels maximize its clean good looks, providing it commanding presence on the road. Its unique face features a front grille with chrome inserts, and available foglamps sitting underneath combination jeweled projector beam wrap-around headlamps. At the rear, the stylish combination taillamps look great and enhance night visibility. 17 inch alloy wheels with all-season tires help Santa Fe get around in all kinds of weather. The GL Sport, Limited and GL Premium models provide available 18-inch alloy wheels. Revisions to the design of Hyundai Santa Fe are concentrated on the finer details. At front, the black 2 bar grille is replaced by chrome-edged 3 bar version, while redesigned headlamp clusters sit above new, more sculpted bumper that houses new foglamps in a black surround. The back receives a new bumper which curves neatly into more unique light clusters, whereas the new alloy wheel designs and trapezoidal exhaust pipes enhance its presence and stance on the road.

The Hyundai Santa Fe is basically a midsize crossover sport utility vehicle based on Hyundai Sonata platform. Named after city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, it was launched for 2001 model year as the company’s first sport utility vehicle, revealed at the same time as Mazda Tribute, Pontiac Aztek and Ford Escape. The Santa Fe was a milestone in the restructuring program of Hyundai of late 1990s because, in spite of receiving criticism from journalists for its obscure looks, the SUV was a hit with American shoppers. It was so popular that at times, Hyundai had trouble supplying the demand. It quickly became the company’s best seller and contributed to its success in United States. From 2007, the midsize crossover sport utility vehicle Santa Fe falls between related luxury crossover SUV Veracruz and compact SUV Tucson.

A mid-cycle refresh designed in Germany for Santa Fe was implemented for 2010 model year. The grille now integrates vertical and horizontal gridded bars as opposed to horizontal 2-bar grille on its predecessors, and grilles are now body-colored instead of black. New rear taillamps include all-red taillamp covers with extensive chrome outlay, and new 5 split-spoke alloy wheels have replaced the previous 6 and 5-spoke wheels. All Santa Fe models now come with steering wheel audio controls, standard Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, metallic steering wheel inlay and new darker wood trim. Only minor changes were applied to Santa Fe for 2011. The Infinity 605-watt sound system became standard on Limited trim while it had only been formerly bundled with optional navigation system. Five new colors were added; Frost White Pearl, Moonstone Silver, Mineral Gray, Espresso Brown and Sonoran Red.

Along those lines, there is nothing ostentatious about the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe, even compared to other vehicles in the company’s lineup. Topping the list is an interior which is bigger as compared to other rivals, including Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Chevy Equinox. A generous list of standard features, lengthy warranty coverage and affordable MSRP also make it worthy of consideration. Sure, a family crossover is unlikely to have that bad boy personality, but several offer more personality and style unlike Santa Fe as well as best-selling Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. The GMC Terrain and Chevy Equinox twin are among these, yet are plenty practical in their own right.

Variants, Body Types and Features

The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe is a crossover sport utility vehicle that offers comfortable seating for up to five passengers and is offered in SE, Limited and GLS trim levels.

The entry-level GLS comes standard with privacy glass, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, roof rails, cruise control, keyless entry, air conditioning with rear seat vents, full power accessories, a 60/40 split folding rear seat, a height adjustable driver seat, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio, a CD player, an iPod/USB audio interface and an auxiliary audio jack and Bluetooth.

Opting for midrange SE will get you automatic headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, a windshield wiper de-icer, foglamps, a rear spoiler and roof rack cross rails. Inside there is an eight-way power driver seat with adjustable lumbar, leather and cloth upholstery, an auto dimming rearview mirror and a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The Premium package includes a rearview camera, a sunroof, an upgraded audio system and a touchscreen navigation system.

The Santa Fe Limited adds dual-zone automatic climate control, a sunroof, heated front seats, full leather upholstery, a Infinity 10-speaker surround sound stereo system with a six-CD changer and a 115-volt AC household-style power outlet. The Navigation package besides obvious adds the rearview camera and touchscreen.

What’s Beneath the Hood of 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe?

Motivation for the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited and GLS models comes from a four-cylinder 2.4 liter engine, which is good for pulsating 175 horsepower with 169 pound feet of torque. The engine is mated to six-speed automatic transmission and offers the fuel economy of 28 mpg highway, 20 mpg city and 23 mpg in combined driving. The 3.5 liter V6 engine is good for pumping out 276 horsepower with 248 pound feet of torque. In performance testing, it accelerated from 0 to 60 miles per hour in the time range of 7.5 seconds. The fuel economy for this engine is 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 23 mpg in combined driving.

Safety & Reliability

Standard safety features on 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe include traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, side curtain airbags and front side airbags. You will also find a new hill-descent brake control designed and engineered to help manage driving down steep hills with slippery surfaces. The rearview camera is optional. In brake testing, the Santa Fe Limited came to a stop in 126 feet from 60 mph.


One-touch power tilt-and-slide sunroof with dual front automatic temperature control, sliding sunshade, audio and navigation system decked out with iPod/USB and auxiliary input jacks and XM Satellite Radio. The temperature and radio controls are placed high on dashboard for easy visibility, while knobs and buttons are clearly marked and generously sized. The steering wheel mounted cruise and audio controls and gear shifter are conveniently situated so you can operate them by touch alone. Even the cupholders are illuminated in a soft blue glow at night for highlighting their location. Each feature is designed to be visually appealing, but not visually distracting.

The 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe offers more passenger volume as compared to CX-7 and RAV4, it isn’t always how much cargo space you have, but what you do with it. Inside you will find plethora of cubbies to store additional storage under cargo floor and smaller items. Within Limited models, there is a 2-prong 115-volt outlet which will power standard household appliances such as radios and laptops. The powerful stereo system comes standard with integrated Bluetooth handsfree phone system, iPod/USB and auxiliary input jacks and steering wheel mounted audio controls. The LIMITED also adds an Infinity LOGIC7 Premium Audio System with external amp and 10 speakers, which cranks out 605 watts of high-fidelity.

Driving Impressions

Behind the wheel, the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe is about as exciting to drive as it is to look at. The driving experience is transparent, which means there is nothing exceptional, positively or negatively. Available V6 horsepower, a smoother ride and sure handling in the corners make Santa Fe comfortable to live with and easy to drive. The beefed-up chassis helps manage higher loads and forces you might face while venturing off pavement or while towing a trailer. Vibration reducing measures ensure either engine remains remarkably refined at high speeds or when accelerating briskly. Both feature Continuously Variable Valve Timing and Variable Intake System on the intake camshafts. Translation: more efficiency and response over a wider range of engine speeds. The firmly damped, long travel suspension tackles both challenges while reinforced suspension and generously sized wheels and tires.