2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
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2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Review

An all-new model for 2022, the Santa Cruz is Hyundai’s first truck offering. That designation may be controversial for some, because it’s basically a Tucson SUV with a bed instead of a cargo compartment, but it will meet the needs of many who want the convenience of a truck but only need a lightest-duty one.

Key Features:

  • Smooth ride
  • Standard lockable tailgate/tonneau combination
  • Comfortable SUV-style interior

Direct Competitors:

  • Ford Maverick
  • Honda Ridgeline
  • Nissan Frontier

Hyundai's small new truck is ideal for people who would normally buy a compact SUV for their daily driving, but who like to get away on the weekends for camping, biking or other activities, and like most other small trucks, this is where the Santa Cruz shines. 

It’ll carry wet or dirty items that you don’t want to put in a carpeted cargo compartment, or taller items that might not fit; and come Monday morning, it seamlessly navigates city traffic while occupants enjoy a quiet and comfortable interior.

How much is the 2022 Santa Cruz?

2022 Santa Cruz | Photo: Hyundai 

The Tucson starts with an entry trim, but the Santa Cruz begins at mid-level, and all models are all-wheel drive. Its Preferred trim is $38,899, and that can be optioned with a Trend package for $2,900 which adds such items as leather seats, power driver’s seat, premium stereo and other features. The top-trim Ultimate is $45,199.

Price compared to the competitors

The Ford Maverick is the Santa Cruz’s direct competitor. It’s less expensive, ranging from $27,750 to $35,400, but its lineup includes a hybrid powertrain in FWD, or gas-only with AWD. 

The Nissan Frontier and other midsize trucks are body-on-frame, and that one runs from $44,998 to $46,398. The Honda Ridgeline we compared it to is also based on an SUV platform as the Santa Cruz is, but it’s larger and runs from $49,440 to $55,440.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz interior

2022 Santa Cruz | Photo: Hyundai 

The Santa Cruz shares almost all of the Tucson’s interior, except that it has a gearshift lever rather than the Tucson’s pushbutton version. Accent lines on the wraparound dash blend handsomely into the door panels, and the centre stack flows waterfall-like into the console. 

The Preferred and Preferred Trend have an eight-inch touchscreen, while the Ultimate incorporates a 10.25-inch screen with navigation, which is generally easy to use but would benefit from a volume dial (and its Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are wired, while the smaller screen is wireless). The Trend and Ultimate also use a 10.25-inch digital display as their configurable instrument cluster.

The Preferred has manual air conditioning, while the Trend and Ultimate move up to dual-zone automatic climate control. All include heated seats (cloth on the Preferred, leather on the other two) and heated steering wheel, while the Ultimate further adds ventilated seats. Legroom and headroom are good in both rows, and the rear seat cushions lift up and reveal storage bins under them. 

2022 Santa Cruz | Photo: Hyundai 

The bed is 4-foot-3, marginally shorter than that of the Maverick, and includes two side-mounted LED lights as well as a cargo light. It’s made of composite material so you don’t need a liner. Like the Ridgeline, it includes a locking compartment under the bed. A roll-up hard tonneau cover is standard on all trims, and when the tailgate is closed against it and locked, items under it are secured.

Performance & drive impressions

All trims use a turbocharged 2.5-litre direct-injection engine that makes 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, mated to an automatic eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and with all-wheel drive. The Tucson is available as a hybrid, but so far Hyundai hasn’t revealed any plans to put that system into the Santa Cruz.

2.5L turbo engine offers a more spirited drive

2022 Santa Cruz | Photo: Hyundai 

While a hybrid would be a great option, the 2.5 turbo does an excellent job. Acceleration is very quick and also very smooth. It’s easy to modulate the throttle in downtown traffic, but there’s more than enough puff when you need to pass on the highway. In combined driving, it’s officially rated at 10.6 L/100 km. That’s higher than either version of the Maverick, but less than the Ridgeline or Frontier.

Because it’s basically an SUV and not a true pickup truck, the ride is very composed, including around corners. It stays comfortable on long-distance drives, even in the rear seats, and the cabin is quiet. 

5,000 lbs maximum towing capacity

It isn’t meant as an off-road warrior, but its AWD system can easily handle medium-level requirements, such as to an out-of-the-way campsite or cottage. Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 lbs with trailer brakes (maximum 1,650 lbs if the trailer doesn’t have them), while payload can go as high as 1,614 lbs. 

2022 Santa Cruz | Photo: Hyundai 

All Santa Cruz trims come with driver-assist technologies including emergency front braking, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and high-beam assist, while the Trend and Ultimate further add adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, and the Ultimate has highway driving assist with lane-centring. Learn more about all the different car safety features here.

Verdict: is this Hyundai truck worth buying?

The Santa Cruz is very much a niche vehicle to begin with, and then faces very tough competition from the Maverick, which costs less, offers a hybrid, and even though it’s also SUV-based, benefits from Ford’s stellar reputation as a truck builder. 

Even so, the Hyundai will appeal to those who prefer its fancier interior, longer list of standard features, and “out-of-the-box” configuration, including that locking tonneau that doesn’t have to be ordered and installed separately. 

Of course, there are items that can be added, including an in-bed tent and kayak carriers, and those who get away for the weekend can accessorize it to their tastes. The Santa Cruz isn’t cheap, but it might be just the right truck for a lot of buyers.

If you’re shopping for a pre owned pickup, here 10 used truck buying tips to keep in mind.

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