5 Best & Worst Years For The Hyundai Santa Fe

Tell us what to look for when buying a good used Hyundai Santa Fe

Are you currently in the market for a new SUV but not sure which of the endless options you want to choose? Look no further, as the Hyundai Santa Fe might just be the perfect SUV for you.

Currently, in its 4th generation, the vehicle, named after the city of Santa Fe, has now well over 22 years’ worth of models and trims, going from a compact CUV to a midsized crossover SUV stay as for all coming models.

Despite all the love and praise it has gotten, there have been many years in which the Hyundai Santa Fe did not exceed the expectations, which is why I will be ranking the best and worst years for Hyundai Santa Fe and provide my reasoning for this as well.

Worst Years for Hyundai Santa Fe:

  1. 2007
  2. 2009
  3. 2013
  4. 2008
  5. 2012

Best Years for Hyundai Santa Fe:

  1. 2018
  2. 2019
  3. 2020
  4. 2016
  5. 2001

I will be going over each of these models individually and talk about why each one ranks where it does, so if you are interested in purchasing a Hyundai Santa Fe, this article is perfect for you.

What Are The Worst Years For The Hyundai Santa Fe? Which Years To Avoid

Here are some of the worst years of the Hyundai Santa Fe. You should try your best to avoid these years whenever possible as they are full of problems and are more trouble than they are worth.

1. 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe

The 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe has the most problems in the lineup, which is why it is at the top of this list. Many of these problems led to recalls, 9 to be exact.

Among the issues were the fuel gauge and the internal accessories.

Overall, anyone who would drive in this year’s models of the Hyundai Santa Fe would receive a bad experience and see constant trips to the mechanic for issues that otherwise should not have happened.

Another reason it is one of the worst models you should avoid is that it was put out during a time when most Hyundai Santa Fes were having issues, meaning that you will likely suffer those issues as well.

2. 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe

The 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe improved over the 2009 model, but that is not saying much.

It still had many problems to deal with, one of the major ones being the engine which would repeatedly stall and eventually die out.

The year brought six different recalls for the model, which did not do it any favors and gave it a very bad reputation, which persists today.

Additionally, a faulty fuel system and bad quality paint were the nails in the coffin for the model, which would not recover from the bad reputation it had received.

3. 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe

The NHTSA had a lot to say regarding the 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe.

It received so many complaints from the administration and the many people who had bought the car that it was impossible for me not to mention this model in this list.

Engine failure was widespread, and there were multiple issues with the steering, which made it very unlikeable to drive the car and even more unenjoyable to ride in it.

With such poor driving and ride quality and too many problems to make it worthwhile, you are better off avoiding this model for the most part.

4. 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe

While it was released after the dreaded 2007 model, the 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe improved a lot upon the issues which came with the previous model but, in many aspects, failed to eliminate them as the fuel issues surrounding the 2007 model were still persistent in this model.

Stalling and alternator issues were quite common, and the driving experience was also not on par with the standards of the time, leading to a very unlikeable experience that many customers did not like.

These issues are also the most costly to maintain, so if you have to deal with them, you will be forced to pay a lot of money to fix them, which no one will want.

5. 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe

You would think that a model which only suffered from a single recall would not make its way on this list, but here I am talking about the 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe, a very frustrating car.

This model had so many engine problems, to the point where it would randomly shut down and frequently stall while driving.

Engine fires were common, and overall, the car was met with poor reception, which was justified considering the number of issues that plagued the model.

Luckily, the rest of the problems weren’t as widespread as the other models in this list which is why this particular model is so low.

You certainly would have seen it much higher up if it had any more major issues.

What Are The Best Years For The Hyundai Santa Fe? Which Years To Buy

These are the cream of the crop in the Hyundai Santa Fe. They are generally considered the best models with very few problems, so I recommend you purchase them without hesitation when you get the chance.

1. 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe

The 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe is regarded as one of the best models in the lineup. It not only features a very low amount of problems but also displays amazing performance and safety.

It has many modern tech-related features, which I am sure many people will appreciate, and overall offers a great amount of performance and comfortability, more so than any other year in the lineup.

You will not be able to find another Hyundai Santa Fe that is as reliable as this one, which is why it is top of the list.

2. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe could not beat out its predecessor simply because it made its debut with a couple more problems, but none of them is anything to fear.

The 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe remains one of the better models in the lineup, having a solid value and increasing a lot of core qualities such as comfort and riding quality which was made possible due to the improvements in the engine, which a lot of upgrading customers instantly noticed.

It was these upgrades and the benefits they brought which made me place this model 2nd on this list.

3. 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

2020 marked a repeat of the 2019 model, having slightly more issues but still becoming a very good and dependable vehicle.

Further improvements were made to the already spectacular engine, which made the car even smoother and more fun to drive in, which is always a good thing in Sports Utility Vehicles.

Various additions were also made to the model, which helped separate it from the others in the lineup, and were it not for a few issues. It definitely would have been higher up in this list.

4. 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe

If you are looking for a slightly older car that screams quality, then the 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe is just for you, being old but also coming with some modern touch-ups.

Equipped with a stronger engine than its predecessors, the car also came with various refinements in its design which helped increase the number of people that could fit in the car and make it run much more smoothly.

All of this led to a car with great visibility and handling, which anyone will enjoy if they are looking for a competent SUV.

5. 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe

It is not usually the case that the first model of a lineup knocks it out of the park, but such was the case with the 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe, a model that made its debut with very few problems and offered great handling and ride quality for its time.

The model started it all and launched in such a spectacular way that it put the Hyundai Santa Fe on the map and on the radars of various customers and car enthusiasts who would appreciate everything the SUV would bring to the table.

If you are into older or vintage cars, then this model of the Hyundai Santa Fe is definitely for you, being a reliable vehicle that many owners said lasted for more than 20 years.

How Reliable Is A Hyundai Santa Fe?

When it comes to mid-sized SUVs, the Hyundai Santa Fe is mostly ranked as the second most reliable SUV.

This is based mostly on the severity of the problems surrounded by most models of the Hyundai Santa Fe, along with how much it can cost you to fix and repair these problems and the frequency at which they come about.

Through these metrics, you should realize that the Hyundai Santa Fe has little to know issues that come about very rarely and do not cause a lot of issues.

If by chance, you do face an issue with your Hyundai Santa Fe, then it should not cost a lot to fix it.

How Long Do Hyundai Santa Fes Last?

A typical Hyundai Santa Fe, if given proper maintenance and care, can easily last between 200,000 to 250,000 miles.

This translates to over 17 years, but if you do not care for the vehicle, it will not last long. In this part of the article, I will talk about how you can bolster the life of your Hyundai Santa Fe.

What To Do To Lengthen The Life Of Your Hyundai Santa Fe

Keeping your car in tip-top shape is the job of every responsible car owner, which is why in this part of the article.

I will be talking about the ways you can maintain your Hyundai Santa Fe so that it can provide you with quality service for years to come:

  • Regular maintenance.
  • Regular cleaning.
  • Monitor the fluid and filters of the car.
  • Protect the car against the elements.
  • Maintain the car’s battery.
  • Drive slowly and carefully.

If you follow these tips, you should see a massive boost in the performance of your Hyundai Santa Fe as well as its overall life expectancy.

Things That Shorten The Lifespan Of Your Hyundai Santa Fe

I have talked about the activities and habits you should develop if you want to make your Hyundai Santa Fe last for a very long time.

Now I will tell you what you need to avoid keeping your car in good condition:

  • Off-roading and driving on rough roads.
  • Leaving the Hyundai Santa Fe out in the cold.
  • Frequent long rides.
  • Keeping the car stationary for too long.
  • Lack of cleaning and maintenance.
  • Letting problems persist for too long.

If you avoid all of these activities, you will find yourself having fewer issues to deal with and setting up fewer trips to the mechanic.

3 Most Hyundai Santa Fe Common Problems You Should Know

Despite all the praise and affection the Hyundai Santa Fe gets, there are still a lot of common issues that plague the car, and I will be talking about them briefly here.

1. Engine-Related Issues

What car doesn’t have a few engine-related problems? Unfortunately for the Hyundai Santa Fe, many of its models were filled to the brim with them.

Everything from engines stalling to dying out, various models of the Hyundai Santa Fe suffered from bad quality engines.

What is worse is that these engines also had a tendency to catch fire which is hard to overlook.

No one wants to see their car on fire, especially while driving it, but unfortunately, you run the risk of this in select models of the Hyundai Santa Fe.

2. Fuel Issues

Coupled with the massive amount of engine issues are fuel-related issues, which start off small with bad fuel sensors, which make it difficult to gauge the amount of fuel in the tank.

Combine this with leaky gaskets, and you will never truly know when you run out of fuel and will more often than not find yourself stranded out in the middle of the road in need of a tow.

3. Interior Problems

Problems with the engine and fuel systems can be somewhat justified, but there should be no reason for the interior of the car to be packed with the issues it had in certain models of the Hyundai Santa Fe.

The speakers of the car were buggy and faulty, while many drivers complained about the airbags of the car, the airbag light would light up randomly.

This would lead to a massive recall which affected a lot of customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Is Hyundai Santa Fe A Good Car?

For all intents and purposes, the Hyundai Santa Fe is a very good car, and if you get a good model for the car, it can easily be an instant recommendation.

It will provide you with quality handling and smooth rides, making it an excellent choice if you are looking for an SUV.

Q2: Do Hyundai Santa Fes Hold Their Value?

Boasting impressive depreciation rates, the Hyundai Santa Fe will still retain more than half of its value after a five-year period.

While it may have a quicker depreciation rate when you compare it to other cars in the first three years, it slowly evens out and beats the other cars long term.

Q3: How Many Hyundai Santa Fes Have Been Sold?

While it is difficult to gauge exactly how many models of the Hyundai Santa Fe have been sold since the launch of the lineup, statistics from 2005 onwards show that there have been at least 1,635,097 units of the Hyundai Santa Fe sold, meaning the actual number must be much higher.

Q4: Which Hyundai Santa Fe Engine Is The Most Reliable?

The 2.4 Liter Theta 2 is said to the Hyundai Santa Fe’s most reliable engine due to the fact that it suffered the most minimal issues and also made minor improvements over the previous engines the lineup had seen which had significantly increased the performance of the car as well as allowed to two output 185 hp.

Q5: Is Hyundai Santa Fe Expensive To Maintain?

If you are on a tight budget and do not want to spend a lot on the maintenance of your car, then do not worry, as the Hyundai Santa Fe has you covered. The maintenance will cost you around $8k for the first ten years.

This car beats the average maintenance cost of other popular SUVs, having a relatively low chance that you will need a major repair in the first ten years.


If you have been on the fence about purchasing the Hyundai Santa Fe, then hopefully, this article has given you all the knowledge and information you need to make a decision on whether or not you should purchase a Hyundai Santa Fe or not. While it is not on the top, it is definitely a very reliable SUV that is worth purchasing.

Since you know also know the best and worst years for Hyundai Santa Fe, you should be able to get the best model with the least amount of issues so that you can get the riding quality that you deserve.



Written by Kane Dan

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