Real Life Review: 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS

Used car buyers looking for a roomy people mover could do far worse than the 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe

Being without my own car has its perks. I get a chance to borrow and drive various cars from time to time. I had a couple of appointments in the next town and so I scored a neighbor’s 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe. He bought it two years ago from a seller on Craigslist and  he loves it. I can see why.

Hyundai’s popular workhorse

I had to do some serious highway driving, and the 185hp V6 handled it well. Passing and merging were hassle-free.  I was cruising through a major speed trap on the main highway at one point and was horrified to discover I was going 15 mph over the speed limit. The Santa Fe doth protest not nearly enough. I had no idea I was going that fast til I checked the speedometer.

While the Santa Fe has taken no vows of silence by any stretch, the engine gave no indication we were humming along at 70 mph in a 55 mph zone.

The four-speed automatic shifted smoothly for the most part, save for a rough shift out of first. Mind you, this car has over 100,000 miles on it, so all was forgiven.

Like others in its segment, the 2007 Santa Fe has plenty of cargo room: 34 cubic feet with the seats up, and 78.2 w/the rear seats folded down. This is the perfect hauler for a growing family that doesn’t want a minivan or full-size SUV.

Front and rear legroom was more than generous. Same goes for headroom.  The interior cabin is spacious, with a well-organized center stack. I noticed I could adjust the A/C with my eyes still on the road, a big plus in this land of distracted drivers.

Well-executed interior with space to spare

Since this was a 2007 model, it didn’t have the full tech suite that newer cars have, and for that I was grateful. The controls were clearly labeled, within easy reach, and easy to use. No guesswork. Same went for the cruise control. The aftermarket radio/CD/MP3 player left much to be desired, but the car’s owner swore it was easy to use after a steep learning curve.

This model came equipped with cloth interior. My one complaint about the interior: too much plastic.

Like most SUVs, there is plenty of cup holder space, and a generous center storage unit for change and other goodies.

I was disappointed in the mushy handling.  While it scored a 4/5 stars for body roll safety, the Santa Fe felt much less restrained. This SUV felt a little too tippy for my taste. It didn’t feel firm or well-composed.

After all, it is nine years old with some miles on the odometer. However, a Toyota Highlander with similar miles and in the same model year was much more sure and composed when I drove it for comparison.

Family hauling at a bargain price

That being said, if you’re in the market for a used mid-size SUV, you could do far worse than the 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe. The Santa Fe has plenty of cargo space, generous head and legroom, and plenty of compartments and cup holders.

The 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe is the perfect car for a growing family on a budget that needs a roomy car that will run strong and look good while doing so. Prices in the metropolitan Southern California area range from the mid-$7000s to $8500.00, depending on condition and trim line.

Available trim lines: GLS, SE, Limited

Model tested: GLS

Miles: 104,400

Drivetrain: Front wheel drive

Seating: Seats 5 comfortably. Third-row seating available on higher trim lines.

Engine/transmission: 2.7l V6 with 4-speed automatic. Available 5-speed manual

MPG: 21/26

Safety: 5- star crash test rating from NHTSA, highest rating from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

How To Lend Your Car Without Losing Your Mind


Would you lend your car to this guy?

Here’s how to avoid the pitfalls of lending your car to someone while keeping your sanity intact

As anyone with a pick-up can tell you, lending your vehicle is a tough call to make. Can you trust the person borrowing your car or truck not to thrash it? What about liability? What if their pet  yaks all over the back seat?

You’d still like to help just the same. Here’s how to lend your car without losing your mind or the relationship.

If in doubt, don’t do it. Simple. It’s hard to say no to a friend or family member, but if you’re in doubt about lending your car to someone, don’t do it. No explanation needed.

Set limits. It’s your car, so you call the shots. If the thought of kids in your ride gives you pause, put your foot down. Same goes for pets or even any additional passengers. Personally, I had no problem lending out my car to anyone, but I drew the line at having fast food or small kids in my car.

What about liability? Since insurance laws vary by state and carrier, it’s best to give your insurance agent a call. Clear this in advance so there will be no nasty surprises should there be an accident. Insurance laws vary by state.

If the driver carries their own insurance, you could be off the hook if the driver is involved in an accident. All the better reason to have a heart-to-heart with your insurance company.

What about the driver? You don’t want to lend your car to anyone who has a revoked or suspended license for any reason. End of story. Same goes for moving violations or accidents.

Give the driver a walk-around. Show them where you stash the registration and insurance information, owner’s manual, roadside assistance number and other essential information about the car.

Explain any quirks the car may have. My old Volvo had a rogue “check engine” light that would randomly come on for no good reason. Whenever I lent the car to anyone, I’d make it point to tell them that.

Better yet, offer to ride shotgun while the lendee takes the car for a quick “get acquainted” spin.

Get it in writing. Depending on your relationship with the other person, putting things in writing is a big help. You’ll eliminate any miscommunication regarding the use of your car. I had no problem lending my car to friends, but I was clear on two things: no fast food in the car, no small children (I had a friend’s carsick kiddo yak all over my backseat. Lesson learned).

Lending your car to someone you know can get them out of a jam, especially if they’re tight on cash. Ride-hailing and car-sharing apps can be expensive or non-existent in some parts of the country.

Before you agree to lend your car to someone, save your sanity by checking with your insurance company, vetting the driver, performing a walk-around and putting everything in writing. You’ll keep the relationship intact as well as your peace of mind.

How To Borrow a Car Without Borrowing Trouble

There are times when mass transit or hoofing it just won’t do. Here’s how to borrow a car and save everyone’s sanity.

car-key-842107_1280Let’s face it. Services such as Uber and ZipCar are expensive or non-existent in some communities. If you’re staring down the barrel of a job interview or an important appointment, borrowing a car can help you arrive in style and on time with very little cash outlay.

Here’s how to borrow a car and keep everyone’s sanity intact:

Choose wisely: You stand a much better chance of scoring a borrowed car from someone who knows you well.

Be specific: Instead of “May I borrow the car on Tuesday?” try “May I borrow the car on Tuesday for a 2:30 job interview?” That demonstrates you respect the other person’s time and gives them an idea as to how long you’ll have the car.

Don’t be funky: Don’t eat or drink in the car. Some food smells can nauseate people. Same goes for strong fragrances or colognes. Leave them at home.

Offer to do a walk-around: Make note of any paint damage or windshield cracks. Ask about use of the audio system and ask for a quick demo of any tech suites you’re not familiar with.

Better yet, put things in writing.

Be polite: Be on your best driving behavior. If you’ve been without a car for a long period of time, it’s tempting to wring that car out for all it’s worth. Don’t do it. It’s not worth the possible ticket and bad blood later on.

Drive the car around the block to get used to its handling and brakes before hitting the open road.

Offer something in return: Offer cash for gas or replace the fuel you used.

Offer to dog-walk or babysit for the car owner in exchange if money is an issue. Agree on this up front before you use the car.

Leave it better than you found it: The old camping rule applies to cars as well as the Great Outdoors. Leave no trace.

Even if you’re borrowing a car from a family member or your best friend, treat the car like gold  even if it’s a beater.  Pick up after yourself and discard any wrappers, cups or other detritus before you return the car.

The other aspects of your relationship may be more fun and  relaxed, but borrowing someone’s car is a business transaction.

If you’re transporting a sick person or pet, make sure you get permission to do so. “Abby yakked all over the back seat..sorry!” is something no one wants to hear.

Borrowing a car for a key appointment is a sure bet for arriving stress-free and on time. Borrowing a car and treating it like a professional transaction will preserve your relationship with the car’s owner.

Who knows? You may be able to use the car again in the future. Sure beats transit or hoofing it.


We Interrupt Our Regular Broadcast…

To bring you some great news! Broke Girl’s Guide to Cars has been nominated for the Liebster Award, which is given to new bloggers like myself. Whoo Hoo! Can’t believe my humble little corner of the blogosphere has been recognized. I was nominated by Uma over at Simple Sumptuous Cooking. If you like to cook, check out her blog. She’s got some delicious, fast and budget-friendly recipes that you’ll love.

Here are some questions Uma asked in order to get to know me better.

Sum up the target audience for your blog in one sentence: My target audience is consumers and car nuts who are looking for informative real-world content.

What is your primary reason for starting the blog, and do you have a roadmap for monetizing your blog? I wanted to start a blog in this niche because I love to write, I love cars, and I’m a gal on a budget.

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Since my blog is so new, I haven’t yet devised a road map for monetization; that will come when there are more followers and if I feel I can offer something of value to my readers. It’s still too early to tell if monetization is the way for me to go.

How often do you post content on your blog? 2-3 times a week.

Are pictures/video important to your blog? Only if they have something of value to offer. I use pictures to illustrate the entry and to add another visual component. No video so far, but if I feel it would be of value to the blog, I’ll add video as needed.

Do you hire people for writing content/creating photography and videos? Nope. I plan on keeping my little corner of the internet fully home-grown and self-produced. My most immediate goal is to purchase a DSLR camera so I can produce my own photographic and video content. There may be a guest post or two in the future, but I have no plans to hire anyone.

Do you have a YouTube channel?  Not yet. Still deciding if it’s a good use of my time and resources.

Do you also take advantage of social media such as Pinterest, Instagram, etc? I do social media management as a side gig, so I’ve learned over time that less is more. My readers tend to hang out mostly on Facebook and Twitter, so that’s where I share content. Readers tend to lose interest if they have to follow someone across multiple channels.

What is your blog’s biggest success? I wrote a post on the pitfalls and ripoffs of Buy Here Pay Here dealerships, which disproportionately target low-income consumers( especially women) and those with little or no credit. I got an email from a reader who was considering that type of dealership until she read my post. She thanked me for the post and decided against a Buy Here Pay Here dealership.

What motivates you to continue blogging? I blog for the love of it. I don’t obsess over comments, number of readers or monetization. I’ll keep going as long as I can produce quality content.

Where do you see your blog in the next 2-5 years? That’s a tough one to answer, since the blogosphere is so dynamic. This blog is also brand-new, so I have a more immediate outlook for the next 2-5 months: buy the domain name, upgrade my site to include additional plug-ins, and anything else I think will be useful in the near future. At this stage it’s very hard for me to see beyond the next several months.

I blog because I love it and I love the subject matter 🙂




Should You Take Out That Huge Car Loan?



One of my friends recently bought a brand-new Hyundai Sonata. I’m a sucker for a shiny toy as much as the next person, but I blanched when she told me how she got the car in the first place.

She took out a six-year loan.

She’s on a budget like everyone else and commutes about 70 or so miles round-trip each day for work. She needed something more substantial that would get her through those commutes comfortably and trouble-free. Her old car was a money pit and cost her a couple of workdays this year already.

Car loans these days stretch out to 6-8 years. They were unheard of until about 10 years ago. Now they’re the norm and the notion scares the hell out of me. Here’s why:

  • Higher interest rates: the long-term car loans typically carry a higher interest rate. Very few people qualify for the Tier 1 0 percent financing that car dealers love to advertise,  so be prepared to pay a higher interest rate.
  • Negative equity:  A new car depreciates about 22 percent during the first year. You’ll spend a good portion of that loan term “under water” or “upside down.”
  • You’ll need a HUGE down payment to offset the negative equity and to somehow get ahead. Most average people (that’s us) don’t have the means to come up with a substantial down payment.
  • Harder to recover from a total loss: whenever a car is totaled in an accident, the insurance payout is typically based on the car’s value at the time of the accident. The gap between the car’s value and the loan balance is the driver’s responsibility. It’s not pretty, even with a lower loan balance. A total loss can ruin you financially and leave you without a car if you don’t have the means to pay off the balance.
  • Low resale/trade-in: most dealers are willing to take a car five years old as a trade-in if it’s in  good shape. There’s still some equity in the car, but after years five and six, the value of the car drops considerably. Private party resale value will only be slightly better.
  • You’re stuck: if you end up hating the car three years in and want to replace it, the remaining loan balance will be attached to the loan balance on the replacement car. You’ll be shackled to a car payment for much longer.


There are two key alternatives to the long-loan trap.

  • Buy only what you can afford to pay off in five years tops. It may mean buying a smaller model or a lower trim line, but it beats being chained to car payments for six or more years.
  • Buy used: there are deals to be had on used cars. You’ll pay less, face less depreciation, and can buy more car for the buck. Do your research and you could end up with a good deal on a pampered lease return or CPO car.

I get it. Easier said than done when sitting in a dealership surrounded by so many sparkling new cars. Who can resist?  You can. Stand firm and don’t fall for the lower payment offered on a long-term loan. You’ll be able to afford not only a shiny toy, but also the accessories that will make that shiny toy uniquely yours.

Real Talk

In which a dyed-in-the-wool car gal muses on an unprecedented run of bad luck and her hopes for getting on the road again.

Next month will mark one year that I’ve been without a car. To some people, this may not seem like news as car ownership has been steadily declining over the past few years. Others may see my see my car-less status as being eco-chic. What could be greener than eschewing a car in favor of alt. transit, right?

Nothing can be further from the truth. I am not willingly without a car. I’m not exaggerating when I say the past year has been brutal, both emotionally and financially.  It started  with an unexpected job loss in January 2015 (and the financial hardship that went with it) and the loss of my beloved Volvo 740 just two months later.

Suck it, first quarter of 2015. 2016, not much better. You’re on notice. Shape up.

My car was not only my sidekick, it was my ticket to social and economic mobility. Job opportunities in my community are scarce, so I used my car to work outside of my locale. I used my car to drive to tutoring and pet-sitting gigs. Multiple income streams and all that.

Discussing things like this isn’t easy, especially in a country that worships bootstrap rhetoric and where falling on hard times is seen as more of a character defect and not as a run of really crappy luck.

Mass Transit Desert

I finally landed a “day job” earlier this month to supplement my freelancing. I’m also now dependent on mass transit to get me to and from work, unsullied and on time. In theory.

I waited dutifully by the neighborhood bus stop on my first day of work. No bus. A quick check of my phone showed I was running late. I looked down the street and saw my friend Tom’s car in the driveway. He opened the door to find a frantic-looking me standing there “HiTomI’mlateformyfirstdayofworkscrewthosebussescanyougivemealiftthankyou!”

I’m damn lucky the new job is right here in town. It would take two hours and two buses each way to work in the next town north of here, just 15 miles away. No wonder ridership on local buses in my area has declined so much.

And so it has been since I started my new gig. It’s hard to not pine for my car owning days. Even the worst day with my old car was better than the current dumpster fire known as mass transit in my county.

Trust me when I say it’s nothing like it is for the merry band of commuters portrayed on the transit agency’s marketing materials. They look so…happy. So on time for work.

They also most likely live in mass transit hubs such as Portland, San Francisco, NY, or Chicago.

I miss having a car. I’m a car gal down to my DNA. I’ve been skimming used car ads in search of a new sidekick. I’m hoping this year will bring not only new adventures, but a car in which to have those adventures and to earn more money.

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Dear gods, I’m even looking at used…hybrids.

Something as simple as errands currently require a level of planning reserved for weddings and military missions. Forget about doctor’s appointments, socializing and hobbies.

I am hoping that I can emerge from last year’s run of bad luck (and I thought the recession sucked) and somehow fill my empty carport with a four-wheeled sidekick. Fuel is cheap.  My insurance rates are fantastic due to a clean driving record and eons with the same insurance agency.

Here’s to better days ahead. For all of us.