Reviewers praise the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe's performance on the street while they denigrate it for its off-road performance.
Santa Fe crossovers come "standard with V-6 power, ... [a] 185-hp, 2.7-liter mill," according to Car and Driver, and you can upgrade to a "3.3-liter V-6 that produces a more impressive 242 horsepower," with "Front- or all-wheel drive ... available." ConsumerGuideAuto further clarifies that the all-wheel drive "allows locking in a 50/50 front/rear power split."
ConsumerGuideAuto gripes that it is "slow to build speed and loses steam going up moderate grades." Edmunds refutes that by stating that the "larger V-6 engine is smooth and has plenty of power" and that in the Santa Fe, Hyundai has a "solid-performing and practical SUV for city driving."
Cars.com, on the other hand, says, "don't count on doing any serious off-road driving, however. The all-wheel-drive system does not have low-range gearing."
Experts at TheCarConnection.com found that with the Santa Fe, Hyundai offers a sporty look and excellent road performance. MyRide.com reinforces that, saying, "as long as you don't fling it around corners as if you're in a sports sedan, you'll have no complaints about the Santa Fe's handling." TheCarConnection.com’s editors think the torquey 3.3-liter engine and Shiftronic five-speed automatic in the upscale Limited and SE models is no drag-racer, but shows refinement a class above the 2.7-liter engine and four-speed automatic in the GLS. The Santa Fe's driving feel is surprisingly capable and somewhat sporty compared to other crossovers, with a ride that's well controlled but on the firm side.