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First Look: Hyundai 2010 Santa Fe

Sometimes luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

by on Jan.11, 2010

Hyundai Sante Fe 2010

Freshened outside and with more efficient powertrains underneath.

Hyundai made the decision several years back to try to lead in fuel economy in the segments it competes in – a plan that is now emerging in production just as fuel economy and emissions reduction have become the hot topics in the business.

Enter the freshened Sante Fe with newly competitive 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 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 old V6 engine, while also improving fuel economy ratings by 17%.

The four-cylinder is now rated at 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway with front-wheel drive and the new six-speed automatic transmission. The Theta II is rated at 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Santa Fe’s old 3.3-liter V6 engine has also been replaced by a Lambda II 3.5-liter V6 engine. The Lambda II 3.5-liter V6 engine makes an estimated 34 more horsepower and 22 more pound-feet of torque (276 horsepower and 248 lb.-ft. of torque).

All Santa Fes now offer Hyundai's first six-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission

All Santa Fes now offer Hyundai's first six-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission.

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 mileage of 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 engine 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 drivers, 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.

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% fewer fatalities in single-vehicle crashes.

Outside, there are new bumper fascias, foglights, bodyside moldings, wheels and grille creating a different look to sell.  New colors for 2010 include Phantom Black Metallic, Iridescent Sliver Blue Pearl, Pacific Blue Pearl, Harbor Gray Metallic and Indigo Blue Pearl.


Hyundai Sante Fe, 2010
Engine Fuel Economy (mpg) Percent Increase
City Highway
Mu 2.7L V6 (‘09) vs.

Theta II 2.4L I4 (’10)

18 → 20 24 → 28 17 % city, 17% hwy
Lambda 3.3L V6 (‘09)   vs. Lambda II 3.5L V6 (‘10) 17 → 20 24 → 26 18% city, 8% hwy


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