First Look: 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe Gets More Power, Better Fuel Economy

News I By Steven J. Ewing I January 11, 2010

Hyundai’s Santa Fe crossover is only due for its mid-cycle refresh this year, but that doesn’t just mean touch-ups to the front six inches and rear six inches of the vehicle. Instead, Hyundai is making good on its promise to increase fuel efficiency across its lineup, and the Santa Fe will receive two new engines for the 2010 model year, as well as some other interior upgrades.

In years past, the Santa Fe only made use of V-6 engines, in outputs of 2.7 and 3.3 liters. The smaller-displacement six is now axed in favor of Hyundai’s 2.4-liter Theta II four, which produces 175 horsepower and 169 pound-feet of torque, and is good for 18/28 miles per gallon (city/highway) — increases of 17 percent over the 2.7 V-6. Similarly, the 3.3-liter mill has also been eighty-sixed, and a 276-horsepower, 248-pound-feet, 3.5-liter engine is now in its place. The 3.5 boasts 35 more horsepower and 22 more pound-feet of torque over the engine it replces, while still achieving 18 percent better fuel economy in the city, and eight percent on the highway. Both engines use six-speed automatic transmissions.

Santa Fe is available in three trim levels — GLS, SE, and Limited — and Hyundai’s touch-screen navigation system with XM is available on all models. The overall interior design hasn’t changed too much, and neither have equipment levels, but we’re not complaining. The Santa Fe has always been a very competitive package and we’ve often looked at it as a better overall value than a Ford Edge or Nissan Murano.

Scroll down to read all of the details in Hyundai’s press release.


FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. – As competition in the mid-size crossover segment surge, Hyundai is introducing its refreshed Santa Fe. The 2010 Santa Fe features a revised exterior and new powertrains with six-speed transmissions which improve both fuel economy and vehicle performance.  The 2010 Santa Fe is available at Hyundai dealers now.  

The 2010 Santa Fe has a newly refined design, proven dependability, versatility and an extensive list of standard features to increase its appeal to a broad range of customers. Combine these attributes with a choice of two new fuel-efficient engines mated to six-speed transmissions and the 2010 American-made Santa Fe is the smartest choice in the competitive mid-size crossover segment. 

Santa Fe also delivers on the safety front, earning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) top five-star crash test rating for front impacts. Plus the Hyundai Santa Fe crossover continues to win critical acclaim topping’s list as the least expensive 2009 model year vehicle to insure.


The 2010 Santa Fe debuts Hyundai’s second-generation Theta four-cylinder engine. The Theta II 2.4-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine delivers quicker zero-to-60 miles-per-hour acceleration than the Santa Fe with the Mu 2.7-liter V6 engine, while also improving fuel economy. The Santa Fe four-cylinder delivers an impressive 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway fuel economy rating with front wheel drive and the new six-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC®. A six-speed manual transmission is standard. The Theta II is rated at an 175 horsepower and 169 lb.-ft. of torque. This high-tech, all-aluminum, 16-valve engine features Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on both camshafts and a Variable Intake System (VIS) for better engine breathing.

Santa Fe’s 2009 model year Lambda 3.3-liter V6 engine has also been replaced by the Lambda II 3.5-liter V6 engine for more performance and efficiency. The Lambda II 3.5-liter V6 engine pumps out an estimated 34 more horsepower and 22 more pound-feet of torque (276 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque).

This newly refined powerplant features aluminum construction, dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and weighs less than the 3.3-liter V6 it replaces. To maximize the power spread, the engine utilizes Continuously Variable Valve Timing (CVVT) on intake and exhaust camshafts and a new three-step Variable Intake System (VIS) that helps cylinders breathe efficiently at low and high RPM. The better breathing results in outstanding off-the-line acceleration and passing performance, and remarkable fuel efficiency. New mileage figures for V6-powered Santa Fes are 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway (FWD/AT), which represents competitive V6 fuel economy in the mid-size crossover segment.

All Santa Fes now offer Hyundai’s first six-speed SHIFTRONIC automatic transmission, which features an overdrive lock-up torque converter for improved highway fuel economy. The Santa Fe four cylinder comes with a standard six-speed manual transmission. Meanwhile, Santa Fe’s available electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system automatically routes power to the wheels with the best traction. A driver-selectable AWD lock provides a fixed 50/50 torque split between front and rear wheels, which can improve performance in slippery or off-road conditions.

To help Santa Fe drivers get the most out of their vehicles, for 2010, Hyundai has added a fuel economy indicator. The “Eco Indicator” on automatic transmission models displays a green light to indicate when driving habits are contributing to good fuel economy.


The Santa Fe also features six standard airbags, including side air curtain airbags. The combination of side and curtain airbags, which help protect the head and body during side impacts, can reduce fatalities by more than 52 percent, according to the IIHS. To make the 2010 Santa Fe even safer, Hyundai has added rollover sensors to the side curtain airbags. Rollover sensors are designed to measure the lateral and vertical acceleration, vehicle speed and roll rate to predict an impending rollover. When the sensors detect a potential rollover, the control module triggers the head-curtain side air bags and safety belt pre-tensioners to help protect passengers against serious injury.

All Santa Fe trim levels come standard with Electronic Stability Control (ESC), one of the industry’s most effective life-saving technologies. ESC compares the driver’s intended course with the vehicle’s actual response. It then brakes individual front or rear wheels and/or reduces engine power as needed in certain driving circumstances to help correct understeer or oversteer. NHTSA studies show SUVs equipped with ESC experience 63 percent fewer fatalities in single-vehicle crashes.

Front and rear disc brakes are standard and are coupled with a four-channel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) that includes Brake Assist, a technology providing maximum braking force when a panic stop is detected. The system also uses Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), which automatically equalizes the braking force to the front and rear axles, based on the vehicle loading conditions.

All seating positions feature three-point seatbelts and adjustable head restraints. Front-seat active head restraints help prevent whiplash by automatically reducing the space between a front occupant’s head and the head restraint during a rear collision. The new auto-fold style rear- seat head restraints on outboard seats also improve overall visibility, while providing easier rear-seat fold-down capabilities.

Santa Fe also features a standard Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), which alerts drivers if one or more tires are under inflated. An illuminated indicator light on the dash lets drivers know if a tire needs inflation so corrective action can be taken. 

The design team added a more refined touch to Santa Fe’s exterior design, with new bumper fascias, foglights, bodyside moldings, wheels and grille creating a more stylish, dynamic and taut stance. Its wide track remains, providing improved handling and increased interior room. Sleek styling makes the Santa Fe aerodynamic, providing a drag coefficient of 0.38. Standard roof rack side rails help define its clean side profile, while adding SUV functionality. Cross bars are standard on SE and Limited models.

New colors for 2010 include Phantom Black Metallic, Iridescent Sliver Blue Pearl, Pacific Blue Pearl, Harbor Gray Metallic and Indigo Blue Pearl.

By popular demand, Hyundai’s factory-installed navigation system featuring a high-resolution touch-screen and voice command technology is now available on all Santa Fe models. This new touch screen navigation system also offers a rearview camera and XM NavTraffic. The rearview camera enables the driver to confidently reverse under any circumstances. Be it day or night, a clear image of all objects and surroundings behind the vehicle are instantly displayed on the navigation screen. XM NavTraffic enhances the navigation system by showing real-time traffic data when it’s needed most. In addition, Bluetooth, iPod®/USB auxiliary inputs and steering wheel audio and cruise controls are now standard in all models. 
The 2010 Santa Fe is one of the most package-efficient crossovers on the market. Hyundai accomplished this through a platform that avoids the compromises inherent in typical mid-size car platform sharing. For example, although the Santa Fe is 3.7 inches shorter than the Chevrolet Equinox, its cargo volume exceeds it, with plenty of storage for items of different sizes.

By incorporating a stiff unibody architecture and a well-engineered triple-sealed door/body interface, Hyundai engineers have significantly reduced cabin noise.

Air conditioning is standard, while available dual-zone climate controls for the driver and front-seat passenger bring a touch of luxury to the Santa Fe Limited. Second-row passengers will enjoy a new level of comfort, thanks to B-pillar-mounted adjustable vents.

Demonstrating Hyundai’s attention to detail, blue backlighting for interior gauges, switches and buttons highlight the vehicle’s modern, integrated interior design. Front cupholders are also ringed with blue light for night time drives. Soft-touch, high-quality materials, low-gloss surfaces and zero-tolerance fits are used throughout the interior, as are color-keyed seat belt buckles and cupholder inserts to add more design harmony to the inside cabin. New darker interior colors and wood grain have been added. 

Music lovers will continue to welcome the Santa Fe’s inclusion of standard auxiliary input jacks (3.5 mm mini-jack and USB input) to accommodate and charge audio devices such as iPods®. When an iPod or flash drive is connected through the USB port, which is located at the front of the center console, not only does it play music through the vehicle’s audio system, but it also charges the iPod and allows the driver to access tracks with the steering wheel audio controls. This system also allows both driver and passengers to easily view song/artist/title information and control the music from the audio head unit rather than only the iPod itself. Other thoughtful convenience features include an available power driver seat with power lumbar support, trip computer, heated side mirrors and a windshield wiper deicing system.


The Santa Fe rides on a purpose-built unibody crossover platform with a 106.3-inch wheelbase. This chassis delivers a wonderful ride, handling and balance that discerning crossover buyers are looking for, along with interior amenities just right for most families. This stiff body structure provides the basis for both a more refined ride and more agile handling. Thanks to the suspension geometry and wider track width that enables greater turn angles,

Santa Fe’s turning circle is 35.4 feet – an advantage Santa Fe drivers will appreciate in their daily driving and parking.

Santa Fe’s ride and handling were tuned in California and Michigan by Hyundai’s U.S. team with the American consumer in mind. Santa Fe uses MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension systems. A reverse L-shaped lower arm provides superior steering feel with improved dynamic control. The caster angles are set to improve straight-line stability and overall dynamics. The rear trailing arms are located on the rear cross-member and help to reduce road noise. All four wheels are controlled by coil springs and fade-resistant gas-charged dampers, while front and rear stabilizer bars help keep the vehicle flat during cornering. Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering also contributes to the Santa Fe’s nimble and refined handling dynamics.


The 2010 Santa Fe is assembled at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) in Montgomery, Ala. HMMA also produces the 2011 Hyundai Sonata (both vehicles share the same assembly line). This plant has also achieved certification to the International Automotive Task Force’s (IATF) most rigid quality management standard, ISO/TS 16949, a set of Quality Management System requirements specific to the automotive industry and the highest automotive operating standard in the world. Currently, Hyundai manufactures about half of its total U.S. sales volume in the U.S.


The Hyundai Santa Fe comes in three distinct trim levels:  The well-equipped GLS, sporty SE and luxurious Limited.


The Santa Fe GLS comes well-equipped with a 175-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission, ESC, ABS, 17-inch alloy wheels, a powerful 120-watt AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 audio system with six speakers, iPod/USB auxiliary inputs, rocker panel moldings, power side mirrors, power windows, power door locks and remote keyless entry. Inside are active front head restraints, dual front airbags, front-seat side-impact airbags plus side curtain airbags with rollover protection. Other useful features include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, air conditioning, steering wheel cruise controls, roof rack side rails, rear privacy glass, sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors and a tilt and telescopic steering wheel. New standard features for the 2010 model year are auto-fold second row outboard head restraints, Bluetooth, steering wheel audio and cruise controls, trip computer, heated mirrors and driver seat lumbar support. Optional equipment includes a six-speed SHIFTRONIC automatic transmission and a Premium Package, which includes power tilt-and-slide sunroof, touch-screen navigation with 6.5-inch screen, premium audio system with external amplifier and subwoofer, rearview camera, roof rack cross rails and automatic headlights.


The SE features all the GLS standard equipment plus a new 276-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6, six-speed SHIFTRONIC automatic transmission and 18-inch alloy wheels. The vehicle also includes a bodycolor rear spoiler, power driver seat with lumbar support, combination leather and cloth seating surfaces, roof rack cross rails, bodycolor exterior mirrors, fog lights, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, windshield wiper deicer and automatic headlights. The Trailer Prep Package, which includes a transmission cooler, upgraded radiator, upgraded fans and trailer pre-wiring, enables the SE model to tow up to 3,500 pounds and is standard on SE and Limited V6 models.

An optional Premium Package includes power tilt-and-slide sunroof, touch-screen navigation with 6.5-inch screen, premium audio with external amplifier and subwoofer and rearview camera.


Santa Fe Limited offers a choice of either the 2.4-liter Theta II engine or the 3.5-liter Lambda II engine. Its standard features include all of the equipment found on the SE, and adds leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, dual zone automatic temperature control with outside temperature display, metal scuff plates and auto dimming interior mirror with compass and HomeLink. Chrome accent exterior door handles further distinguish the Limited. A power tilt-and-slide glass sunroof is standard. The Navigation Package includes a 6.5-inch touch-screen navigation system developed exclusively for Hyundai, rearview camera and a premium audio system with external amplifier and subwoofer. 


The Hyundai Santa Fe lineup is protected by the Hyundai Advantage, America’s Best Warranty™. Coverage includes five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper protection, 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty, and seven-year/unlimited mileage anti-perforation coverage. In addition, Santa Fe buyers receive 24-hour roadside assistance coverage at no extra charge for five years (no mileage limit), which includes emergency towing, lockout service and limited coverage for trip-interruption expenses. There is no deductible on any of this coverage.

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