Best & Worst Hyundai Santa Fe Years

The Hyundai Santa Fe has long been popular for families and adventure seekers, offering comfort, performance, and versatility. Not all model years are created equal.

The evolution of one of Hyundai’s most beloved SUVs will equip you with the knowledge needed to make the best choice for your next ride. Understanding the Best & Worst Hyundai Santa Fe Years is necessary to make a well-informed choice when buying your next vehicle.

Hyundai Santa Fe Generations

The Hyundai Santa Fe has undergone several generations, each evolving to meet the changing demands of consumers. The first generation, introduced in 2001, carved a niche in the midsize SUV market with its robust design and reliable performance. 

As the model advanced into its second generation in 2007, it brought improvements in fuel efficiency and added safety features, cementing its status as a practical family vehicle.

In the third generation, launched in 2013, we witnessed a noticeable shift towards a more stylish and modern exterior paired with upgraded interior amenities. This evolution positioned Santa Fe as a formidable competitor in its segment. 

The latest fourth-generation Santa Fe debuted in 2018 continues to impress with its sleek design and advanced technology offerings that elevate the driving experience. 

With each new iteration, Santa Fe delivers superb value and performance for consumers seeking an exceptional midsize SUV experience.

1st generation (SM)2001 to 2006
2nd generation (CM)2007 to 2012
3rd generation (NC)2013 to 2018
4th generation (TM)2019 to Present

Neutral, Best & Worst Hyundai Santa Fe Years

The Hyundai Santa Fe has seen its best years in the 2013 and 2014 models, praised for their reliability, modern features, and comfortable ride. With a solid combination of performance and value, these model years have stood out as top choices among consumers. 

The sleek design and improved fuel efficiency have also contributed to their appeal. In terms of safety ratings and overall satisfaction, the 2013 and 2014 Santa Fe models continue to be highly revered.

The neutral year for the Hyundai Santa Fe falls within the range of 2007-2009. These model years exhibit average performance with no significant standout features or drawbacks, making them a safe but unremarkable choice for potential buyers. 

While they may lack some of the advancements found in later models, they still offer decent utility and practicality for those seeking a budget-friendly SUV option.

The worst year for the Hyundai Santa Fe would be considered to be around 2011 due to reported transmission issues that plagued this particular model year. Despite its attractive exterior styling and ample interior space, these recurring mechanical problems have tarnished its reputation over time.

The graph below will provide a comprehensive visual representation of the combined ratings from the aforementioned sources regarding the optimal years for the Hyundai Santa Fe.

The categorization table provides insight into the standout, average, and underperforming model years for each generation of the Hyundai Santa Fe.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st generation (SM)20062004
2nd generation (CM)2011
3rd generation (NC)2015
4th generation (TM)2019

Best & Worst Years for Hyundai Santa Fe 1st Generation (2001–2006)

Best & Worst Hyundai Santa Fe Years

The 2002 Hyundai Santa Fe is often hailed as the best year of the first generation, thanks to its winning combination of reliability and features. 

This model year marked a turning point for Hyundai, with improved build quality and more refined driving dynamics. 

Best Year For Hyundai Santa Fe: 2006

2006 was one of the best years for the Hyundai Santa Fe in the 1st Generation. It stands out as the apex of the first generation, boasting a refined design and improved performance.

Its robust 3.5L V6 engine delivered an impressive power and fuel efficiency blend, setting it apart from its predecessors. 

This model year saw significant upgrades to its interior, with enhanced material quality and updated features that offered a more comfortable driving experience. 

The 2006 Santa Fe also received high marks for its reliability and durability, making it a top choice for buyers seeking long-term value. The 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe experienced several issues that detracted from its overall appeal. 

This initial release suffered from reliability concerns and a less polished interior compared to later models in the lineup. The foundation for future success, the 2001 Santa Fe, failed to fully deliver on Hyundai’s potential at the time. 

Neutral Years: 2004, 2005

The Neutral Years of 2004 and 2005 brought the Hyundai Santa Fe with a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine, offering a balanced mix of performance and fuel efficiency. 

With 18 cities and 24 highway mpg for the 2.7L V6 standard GLS trim, these years represented a middle ground in terms of fuel economy within the Santa Fe lineup. 

These years marked an interesting phase for the Hyundai Santa Fe’s evolution. The introduction of the 2.4L engine showcased Hyundai’s commitment to catering to diverse consumer needs by offering improved fuel economy without sacrificing too much power. 

Worst Years: 2001, 2002, 2003

In the first generation of the Hyundai Santa Fe, it became evident that the early 2000s posed substantial challenges for the vehicle’s electrical system, engine, and suspension. 

The 2.7L V6 engines from 2001 to 2003 were particularly prone to issues that frustrated many owners. Apart from engine troubles, models from 2003 and 2004 with the 3.5L engine, 4WD, and ABS system faced significant setbacks in terms of reliability.

Looking at these particular years of the Hyundai Santa Fe, it’s clear that they are often considered the worst in terms of engineering problems.

Owners have reported many issues with their vehicles during this period, ranging from electrical malfunctions to persistent engine trouble.

With numerous reports about these specific model years’ faults surfacing over time, new insights show a consistent picture of dissatisfaction among Hyundai Santa Fe first-generation owners during this era.

Best & Worst Years for Hyundai Santa Fe 2nd Generation (2007-2012)

Best & Worst Hyundai Santa Fe Years

The second generation Hyundai Santa Fe, spanning from 2007 to 2012, has seen its share of ups and downs. Many enthusiasts and critics alike point to the 2010 and 2011 models as standout performers. 

Best Years: 2011, 2012

According to Consumer Reports, 2011 and 2012 have been hailed as some of the best years for Hyundai Santa Fe for this popular crossover.

Equipped with the impressive 2.4L Theta II 4-cylinder engine, these models boast exceptional fuel economy, making them a cost-effective choice for drivers seeking efficiency without sacrificing power. 

Their advanced technological amenities set them apart in their class, offering modern conveniences and safety features that elevate the driving experience.

These particular model years have consistently received high marks for reliability and performance from experts and owners alike, solidifying their status as standout vehicles within the Hyundai Santa Fe lineup. 

With innovative amenities such as Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports, and available navigation systems, these models provide a seamless integration of technology into the driving experience. 

Combined with their efficient engine capabilities, it’s no wonder that the 2011 and 2012 Santa Fe continue to be celebrated as prime examples of excellence within the automotive industry.

Worst Years: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010

According to Consumer Reports, 2007 to 2010 have been hailed as some of the Hyundai Santa Fe years to avoid for this crossover.

The years 2007 to 2010 presented a myriad of problems across various systems. From transmission issues to electrical failures, owners found themselves grappling with significant concerns that affected their driving experience and vehicle reliability. 

Perhaps one of the most disturbing issues that arose during this period was the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) system malfunctioning, leading to safety concerns and potential accidents on the road.

It became evident that quality control and design flaws had contributed to a decline in overall satisfaction with their vehicles.

The notable clunking noise experienced by many drivers further underscored the need for manufacturing and engineering standards improvements. 

Despite these challenges, some valuable lessons emerged for consumers and car manufacturers regarding the importance of rigorous testing and continuous innovation in creating resilient and dependable vehicles.

Best & Worst Years for Hyundai Santa Fe 3rd Generation (2013-2018)

Best & Worst Hyundai Santa Fe Years

The third generation of the Hyundai Santa Fe, produced from 2013 to 2018, has seen its fair share of highs and lows. and sophisticated look.

These instances underline how each model year reflects a unique combination of positives and negatives within this vehicle’s generation.

Best Years For Hyundai Santa Fe: 2015, 2016, 2018

The Hyundai Santa Fe’s 3.3L Lambda II V6 engine has consistently impressed drivers and critics with its impressive performance figures of 290 horsepower and 252 pounds of torque. 

When looking at the J.D. Power, VehicleHistory, and Consumer Reports ratings for the vehicle, it’s clear that certain years have stood out as the best in terms of overall satisfaction and reliability. 

While both the 2015 and 2016 models showcased solid performance from their V6 engines, they received mixed reviews from Consumer Reports regarding overall reliability. 

This highlights how, despite impressive powertrain specifications, other factors such as build quality and long-term durability can significantly impact a vehicle’s reputation. 

Hyundai Santa Fe Years to Avoid: 2013, 2014, 2017

As Hyundai Santa Fe entered its 3rd generation, it faced several challenges that made the years 2013, 2014, and 2017 particularly tough.

Despite being praised for its stylish design and comfortable interior, these years saw some issues emerge with the vehicle’s performance and reliability. 

The 2013 model faced criticism for its lacklustre fuel economy and uncomfortable ride quality, dampening an otherwise promising launch. In 2014, complaints arose about the car’s handling and transmission problems, tarnishing its reputation further.

In 2017 while there were improvements in safety features and technology integration, concerns regarding engine performance and the overall driving experience still lingered. 

These years marked significant setbacks for Hyundai Santa Fe’s third generation, despite its advancements in comfort and aesthetics. These periods highlight automakers’ challenges in balancing innovation with consistent quality to ensure customer satisfaction.

Best & Worst Years for Hyundai Santa Fe 4th Generation (2019-2023)

Hyundai Santa Fe Years to Avoid

The 4th generation Hyundai Santa Fe, spanning from 2019 to 2023, has seen peaks and valleys in terms of customer satisfaction and performance.

Hyundai Santa Fe Best Years: 2019, 2020, 2023, 2024

With its 2.4L Theta II inline-4 engine and forward-collision warning, theHyundai model years like Hyundai Santa Fe and Hyundai Tucson has undergone a significant transformation since its fourth-generation debut in 2019. 

According to J.D. Power, this model year proved to be one of the best for Santa Fe, earning high marks for performance and reliability. Consumer Reports and also lauded the vehicle for its safety features and overall value proposition.

2020 saw a slight dip in consumer satisfaction according to VehicleHistory data, which was attributed to minor issues with the infotainment system and interior comfort. 

Hyundai swiftly addressed these setbacks in subsequent model years, such as in 2023 when the Santa Fe reclaimed its title as one of the best crossover SUVs on the market. 

With continual improvements in safety technology and customer-centric upgrades, it’s clear that Hyundai is committed to refining its flagship vehicle for an optimal driving experience.

Each successive year has brought new enhancements to the Hyundai Santa Fe, from cutting-edge safety features like forward-collision warning systems to intuitive infotainment interfaces.

Hyundai Santa Fe Years to Avoid: 2021, 2022

The years 2021 and 2022 have arguably been the worst for Hyundai Santa Fe owners, as they’ve seen a surge in recalls and transmission problems. 

Unlike previous years, when Santa Fe was praised for its performance and reliability, these recent models have faced challenges that have left many owners frustrated and dissatisfied. 

The sheer number of recalls concerning various domains is unprecedented for a brand known for its quality and dependability.

The numerous recalls highlight systematic issues that seem to have plagued the 4th Generation Santa Fe, raising questions about the company’s quality control processes. 

Even though Hyundai has taken steps to address these problems, such as offering extended warranties or free repairs, consumer trust in the brand’s products may suffer long-term damage.

Hyundai Santa Fe Average Resale Values

The Hyundai Santa Fe has gained attention in the automotive market for its impressive resale value. 

The average resale values of Hyundai Santa Fe models have remained consistently strong, outperforming many of its competitors in the midsize SUV Segment.

Hyundai Santa Fe Years to Avoid


The Hyundai Santa Fe has seen both its Best & Worst Hyundai Santa Fe Years, with certain models standing out for their reliability and performance while others have faced notable issues. 

The 2013 and 2017 models have been identified as some of the best years for Hyundai Santa Fe due to their strong safety ratings, spacious interiors, and advanced technology features. The 2012 and 2016 models have been noted for transmission and electrical problems, so these are Hyundai Santa Fe Years to Avoid.


Are there any particular Hyundai Santa Fe years to avoid?

Yes, the 2007 and 2012 models have been known to have more frequent issues.

Which year of Hyundai Santa Fe has the best fuel efficiency?

The 2020 hybrid model is known for its excellent fuel economy.