Hyundai Santa Fe SEL vs Limited [What’s The Difference?]

Automakers have different trim levels available so that consumers can purchase the same model vehicle with more upgraded features. These can include more powerful engines, better safety equipment, or even onboard creature comforts. If you are considering a Hyundai Santa Fe and want to compare the difference between the SEL and the Limited trim levels, we can help you. We researched this popular vehicle from multiple professional sources so that you will know what makes these two trims different from each other.

While the engines between the Hyundai Santa Fe SEL and the Santa Fe Limited are different, most of the differences between these two trim levels are the standard equipment for each one. The Limited has upgraded features, like a sun/moonroof, navigation, cool seats, and a premium sound system.

Now that we know that the main differences are the standard equipment offered between each trim level, we'll take a closer look at what both trim levels have as standard features. You might also be wondering what the highest trim package for the Hyundai Santa Fe is or if the Hyundai Santa Fe SEL has a sunroof. For the answers to these questions and more, read this post to see what we've been able to uncover in our research.

A red color Hyundai Santa Fe at a car show, Hyundai Santa Fe SEL Vs Limited: What's The Difference?

Breaking down the different standard features for the Santa Fe SEL and the Santa Fe Limited

When examining both the Santa Fe SEL and Limited trim levels, you'll notice that they share many similarities. Both are standard front-wheel drive vehicles with an all-wheel-drive option, have 2.5L in-line 4 gasoline engines, and have eight-speed automatic transmissions. The Limited's engine is Turbo, which adds a bit more horsepower to it. Onboard, however, you'll see a variety of differences between the mid-tier trim and the one that is premium level.

Hyundai Santa Fe SEL

The following features come as standard equipment for the SEL trim level:

  • Beige, black, or gray leather-trimmed front seats
  • YES Essentials cloth upholstered rear seats
  • HD radio
  • Satellite radio
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Smart device integration
  • Auxiliary audio input
  • MP3 player
  • Bucket seats
  • Steering wheel audio controls
  • Powered mirrors
  • Air conditioner
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Cruise control
  • Heated front seats
  • Keyless entry
  • Powered driver seat
  • Remote engine start
  • Remote trunk release
  • Keyless start 
  • Telematics
  • Backup camera
  • Blindspot monitor
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Anti-lock brake system
  • Tire pressure monitoring system
  • Brake assist
  • Stability control
  • Traction control

Hyundai Santa Fe Limited

In addition to the above standard features for the SEL, the Limited trim level has the following standard amenities:

  • Leather-trimmed back seats
  • Premium sound system
  • Leather steering wheel
  • Sunroof/moonroof
  • Navigation system
  • Powered liftgate
  • Automatic parking
  • Climate control
  • Cooled front seats
  • Hands-free liftgate
  • Heated rear seats
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Multi-zone air conditioner
  • Powered passenger seat
  • Seat memory
  • Universal garage door opener
  • Rear parking aid

Other notable differences between these two trim levels are the wheels [the SEL has 18-inch aluminum while the Limited's are 19-inch aluminum] and the towing capacity [the SEL has a maximum towing capacity of 2,000 pounds, compared to the Limited's ability to tow up to 3,500 pounds].

What is the highest trim package on Hyundai Santa Fe?

While the Limited trim level is considered a premium trim level, there are two trims for the Hyundai Santa Fe in this category. The Calligraphy is regarded as the top-tier trim level for this model vehicle, and it offers several amenities as standard that the Limited will not have on board.

Along with the standard features we listed for the Limited earlier in this post, the Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy will have the following:

  • Coquina Beige, Quilted Premium Nappa Leather Seat Trim, or
  • Obsidian Black, Quilted Premium Nappa Leather Seat Trim
  • Head-up display

A white Hyundai Santa Fe at a car show

The Calligraphy is also available in a front-wheel-drive or an all-wheel-drive configuration. But it shares the same 2.5L Turbo in-line 4-cylinder engine as the Limited. Calligraphy also has an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Calligraphy is also capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds behind it. Rather than 19-inch aluminum wheels, this trim level has 20-inch wheels of the same material.

Does the Hyundai Santa Fe Sel have a sunroof?

Having a vehicle with a sunroof or moonroof is a great way to enjoy warmer weather or let in more natural light while driving. But not all trim levels of the Hyundai Santa Fe have this as a standard feature.

The Hyundai Santa Fe SEL does not have a sunroof or a moonroof. Should you be interested in a trim level with this feature, consider the Santa Fe Limited or the Santa Fe Calligraphy. This feature is standard for both of these premium trim levels, as are many other amenities that we outlined earlier in this post.

Does Hyundai Santa Fe have engine problems?

No matter how comfortable or safe a vehicle is, you'll want to consider potential issues as a way to determine if a particular model is suitable for you. Engine issues do seem to persist among certain automakers or across certain years of a specific model. Knowing whether or not the one you are considering might not be as reliable can be a primary concern.

Though considered reliable, some years of the Santa Fe have had substantial engine issues. The worst years for engine problems were 2012, 2011, and 2009. The average fix for the engine issues is $5,600 and occurs around 76,000 miles. So, if you are considering a used Hyundai Santa Fe, be a little wearier of these model years.

Of course, like every Hyundai, the Santa Fe is backed by a five-year/60,000-mile warranty, as well as a 10-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty. With a vehicle backed by such a generous standard warranty, at least you can be assured that you will be covered for an extended period if any issues should arise. 

What are the most common problems with Hyundai Santa Fe?

Hyundai Santa Fe car at a Hyundai showroom

The Hyundai Santa Fe is considered one of the most reliable in its class of mid-sized SUVs. It has been consistently rated as 4.0 out of 5.0 by multiple consumer rating groups and rated as #2 overall out of 26 for reliability by Repair Pal. The longstanding reputation for reliability and the lengthy standard warranties make Santa Fe very attractive to buyers.

But every model vehicle does have its problems, and Santa Fe is no exception. Aside from the aforementioned engine problems that plagued specific model years of the Santa Fe, faulty transmissions were reported by consumers who owned the 2017 model year. Problems with the audio system have also been reported, as well as the 2014 models having issues with the engine stalling.

Overall, though, the Santa Fe is reliable and very safe. Take care of it, and you can expect to get as many as 200,000 miles out of a Hyundai Santa Fe, or even more.

In conclusion

A red color Hyundai Santa Fe at a car show

The Hyundai Santa Fe has been a popular choice among consumers who want a highly rated vehicle for comfort and safety. Every trim level this model has available comes with great onboard features. Still, the premium Limited and Ultimate trims are much more luxurious in what they offer the driver and the passengers on board.

Ultimately, knowing what you want in a vehicle and tailoring those needs to your family's budget will better determine which trim level is right for you. Drive safe!

If you found this post on the Hyundai Santa Fe to be informative, we believe that you'll enjoy reading the following posts about this popular vehicle:

How To Turn Off "Consider Taking A Break" In A Hyundai Santa Fe

Does Hyundai Santa Fe Have All-Wheel Drive?

 Does Hyundai Santa Fe Have Remote Start?

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