Discover Reliable Pre-Owned Hyundai Santa Fe Best Years to Buy Used

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you in the market for a Hyundai Santa Fe but unsure which model years are the best?

You’re not alone. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to determine which years stand out from the rest. But don’t worry, we’ve done the research for you.

In this article, we’ll reveal the standout model years of the Hyundai Santa Fe that are highly recommended by automotive experts.

From 2018 to 2020 models to 2015, 2016, 2011, 2010, and 2006, these years are praised for their dependability, reliability, and overall quality.

Now you can continue your search with confidence, knowing which years to focus on to find the perfect fit for your needs.

Hyundai Santa Fe Best Years

Best Years for Hyundai Santa Fe

In this section, we’ll discuss the top model years and most reliable years for the Hyundai Santa Fe. So, let’s dive right in!

Top Most Reliable Model Years

As you’re looking for a Hyundai Santa Fe, certain model years stand out as excellent options.

Among them, the 2018 model onwards, 2015, 2016, 2011, 2010, and 2006 are highly recommended.

These years have earned praise for their performance, dependability, and features. Let’s briefly explore what makes each of these years special:

  • 2006: The 2006 Santa Fe improved on previous models with better handling and a smoother ride, offering a solid option in the early years of this SUV.
  • 2010: Marking the end of the second generation, the 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe features a refined interior and a more powerful engine option.
  • 2011: The 2011 model introduced the third generation, featuring upgraded styling, a roomier interior, and improved fuel economy.
  • 2015 and 2016: These model years stand out for their strong performance, comfortable seating, and user-friendly technology.
  • 2018 onwards: Starting from 2018, the Hyundai Santa Fe entered its fourth generation, offering significant upgrades, enhanced safety features, and better fuel economy.

Worst Years for Hyundai Santa Fe

Some of the years have more complaints and issues reported than others, which you should take into account when making your decision. The following years stand out as the most troublesome for Santa Fe:

  • 2007
  • 2009
  • 2013
  • 2008
  • 2012

These years have seen a relatively higher number of complaints, which means you might want to explore other years or models for a more reliable vehicle.

Common Engine Problems

In the worst years mentioned above, there are some common engine problems you should be aware of. Some of these issues include:

  • Engine stalling: Several drivers reported engine stalling issues, particularly in the 2013 model year. This problem can be frustrating and dangerous, as it may cause your vehicle to stall in the middle of your drive, which can be a severe safety concern.
  • Connecting rod failure: This issue was most common in the 2007 and 2012 model years. The failure of the connecting rod can lead to engine failure and potentially expensive repairs.
  • Violent jerking: Owners of the 2007 and 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe models have reported instances of violent jerking while driving, which can be due to various issues ranging from transmission to engine problems.

In addition to these engine issues, other problems worth noting include steering issues and paint peeling.

Steering issues have been reported in the 2013 model year, which can affect your vehicle’s overall driving experience. Meanwhile, paint peeling has been a notable cosmetic issue in the 2007 and 2009 models.

Performance and Fuel Efficiency

Handling and Driving Experience

In recent years, Hyundai Santa Fe models have been praised for their handling and driving experience.

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe had a V6 engine as standard, which provided power and performance that rivaled competitors such as Ford and Honda.

You’ll find that the Hyundai Santa Fe offers a comfortable ride with a suspension that smoothly handles bumps and uneven road surfaces. The steering is also precise, giving you confidence while navigating tight corners or maneuvering through busy streets.

MPG and Fuel Economy

Fuel efficiency is an important factor when considering a vehicle, and the Hyundai Santa Fe is no exception. The 2014 to 2016 Santa Fe models have a fuel efficiency rating of about 21 mpg combined.

While there wasn’t a hybrid version available for these models to achieve lower fuel consumption rates, it’s important to note that their fuel economy is competitive within the SUV segment.

When considering the newer models, such as the 2020, 2021, and 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe, they have received high scores in terms of overall satisfaction and reliability from respected sources like Kelley Blue Book and JD Power.

These recent models are likely to have improved fuel efficiency as well, which should benefit your wallet and the environment.

Keep in mind that your personal driving habits and conditions can affect your fuel efficiency. Here are some tips to help you improve fuel economy:

  • Maintain appropriate tire pressure
  • Avoid aggressive driving and hard acceleration
  • Minimize the use of air conditioning when in heavy traffic
  • Make sure to perform regular engine maintenance

Model Trims and Features

Trim Levels

The Santa Fe offers a range of trims, including the SE, SEL, XRT, Limited, and Calligraphy.

The SE trim comes equipped with a 191-hp naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, providing an adequate amount of power for daily driving. It is a budget-friendly option for those who need a reliable SUV without breaking the bank.

The SEL trim builds upon the SE by adding features such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, making it a popular choice for families who value safety.

For those who enjoy an off-road adventure, the XRT trim offers rugged exterior design enhancements and improved off-road capabilities. This gives you the confidence to tackle rough terrain in your Santa Fe.

If you’re seeking more luxury and comfort, the Limited trim comes with premium features such as leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, and a more advanced infotainment system.

Finally, the top-of-the-line Calligraphy trim boasts all the luxurious features of the Limited and adds a more powerful engine, unique exterior design elements, and exclusive interior materials to satisfy your desire for the ultimate Santa Fe experience.

Feature Comparison

Across the different trims and generations of the Santa Fe, you’ll find varying levels of comfort, interior quality, and engine performance. Here are some key features to compare when choosing the model that’s right for you:

Comfortable Ride

The Hyundai Santa Fe is known for providing a smooth and comfortable ride, particularly in recent model years like the 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe, which had a V6 engine as standard, offering power and performance that rivaled competitors such as Ford and Honda.

Fuel Efficiency

One of the reasons the Santa Fe has become a popular family car is its fuel efficiency, offering a decent MPG rating for a mid-size SUV.

Higher trims may come with more powerful engines, which can slightly impact fuel economy, but overall, this vehicle offers a good balance between performance and efficiency.

Interior Design

The interior quality of the Hyundai Santa Fe has improved throughout its generations. The latest models come with well-built cabin materials and more advanced infotainment systems when compared to earlier versions, enhancing the driving experience for you and your passengers.


As mentioned earlier, the 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe is considered one of the more affordable options without sacrificing too many features.

Balancing value, reliability, and build quality are essential factors when evaluating the best Hyundai Santa Fe for your needs.

Best years for Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Luckily, some standout years offer dependability, advanced features, and excellent value for your money. Here are a few best years for the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport:


These model years are highly praised for their reliability and performance. With improved styling and interior quality, you’ll drive with peace of mind knowing that your Hyundai Santa Fe Sport delivers a pleasant driving experience.

2018 Models and Beyond

The Santa Fe models from 2018 onwards have been redesigned with modernized features and performance upgrades.

These models provide a smooth ride, spacious interiors, and the latest technological advancements to keep you connected and entertained on the road.

While shopping for a Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, it’s essential to remember that not all model years are created equal.

The model years mentioned above stand out as the top choices, offering a balance of performance, comfort, and smart features.

To help make your decision easier, consider the following aspects when deciding which year is the best fit for you:

  • Budget: Assess your budget and determine which year falls into an affordable price range for you. The older 2015-2016 models generally have lower prices, whereas the 2018 and newer models come with a higher price tag due to their modernized features and design.
  • Features: Compare the features you’re most interested in, such as safety technology, infotainment options, and fuel efficiency. Each model year may have unique offerings, so it’s important to weigh them against your preferences.
  • Reliability: Research the dependability of various model years to avoid any unexpected issues during your ownership. You want a car that will last for years without causing you headaches.

Is a Hyundai Santa Fe a Reliable Car?

Yes, the Hyundai Santa Fe is considered a reliable car. With consistently high ratings over the years, you can feel confident when investing in this model.

For example, the 2017-2019 Santa Fe models received a five out of five reliability score from Consumer Reports.

The 2020 Santa Fe experienced a slight dip in reliability, receiving a three out of five rating. However, the 2021 model bounced back with a four out of five dependability rating.

As you can see, Hyundai has been actively working to maintain the Santa Fe’s reputation as a reliable vehicle.

When it comes to warranty coverage, Hyundai backs the Santa Fe with a five-year/60,000-mile limited warranty and a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. This comprehensive coverage is designed to give you peace of mind when it comes to potential repair costs down the road.

To get a sense of owner satisfaction, you can also refer to owner reviews. These reviews often provide valuable insights into how the car performs over time and highlight any common issues that may arise.

When did Hyundai stop making the Santa Fe?

Hyundai has not stopped making the Santa Fe; in fact, they are still producing it today.

The Santa Fe was first introduced in 2001 and has since gone through multiple generations and updates. You can find this popular SUV in its current fifth generation, which was introduced in 2020.

This fifth generation Santa Fe boasts significant improvements over its predecessors. Not only does it have a sleek new design, but it also features more advanced technology and greater fuel efficiency than ever before. In addition, you’ll find various trim levels and configurations to suit your needs.

Throughout its production, Hyundai has made various changes to the Santa Fe’s design, features, and performance.

The first generation spanned from 2001 to 2004, followed by the second generation from 2005 to 2012. The third generation came from 2013 to 2018, and the fourth took place between 2019 and 2020.

While Hyundai didn’t “stop” making the Santa Fe, it’s worth noting that some years had more desirable features or performance.

For example, the 2023 Santa Fe was named the Best 2-Row SUV for the Money, which speaks to its quality and value. With a low starting price and a long list of amenities, the current generation Santa Fe is definitely one to consider.

Competitors and Alternatives

Hyundai Tucson

The Hyundai Tucson is a smaller sibling to the Santa Fe, offering a more compact and affordable option.

It shares many similarities, such as upscale interiors and similar features. If you’re looking for a versatile daily driver, the Tucson can be a good choice. Its pros include:

  • Lower starting price
  • Comparable feature list
  • Smaller size for easier city navigation

However, the Tucson does have some worst years and drawbacks:

  • Less cargo space compared to Santa Fe,
  • Lower power engines,
  • Check the full list for Tuscon SUV best years models.

Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester is well-known for delivering practicality, safety, and AWD capability. Here are the pros:

On the other hand, the Forester’s weaknesses and problems include:

  • Less powerful engine options
  • Lacks third-row seating option

Kia Sorento

Sibling to the Hyundai Santa Fe, the Kia Sorento offers a comparable experience but with some slight differences.

Pros of the best years for Kia Sorento are:

  • Third-row seating available
  • V6 engine options
  • Competitive pricing

Some drawbacks and reliability issues of the Sorento include:

  • Less agile handling compared to Santa Fe
  • Less fuel efficient with V6 engines

Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage is a compact SUV offering a more affordable alternative to the Santa Fe.

Here are some of the Kia Sportage best years to order:

  • Agile handling and performance
  • Competitive pricing
  • Advanced tech features

However, there are few Kia Sportage years to avoid:

  • Less cargo space
  • No third-row seating option

Nissan Rogue

Another compelling alternative to the Santa Fe is the Nissan Rogue.

It has an attractive blend of comfort, features, and fuel efficiency. Its pros (that is, the best Nissan Rogue years) include:

  • Comfortable ride quality
  • Impressive fuel efficiency
  • Advanced safety and driver assistance features

But the Rogue also comes with a few drawbacks:

  • Less powerful engine options
  • No third-row seating option
  • Less towing capacity compared to Santa Fe

In conclusion, each of these competitors offers a unique set of strengths and weaknesses compared to the Hyundai Santa Fe. Consider your specific needs and preferences when deciding which alternative is best for you.


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