2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz vs 2022 Ford Maverick
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2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz vs 2022 Ford Maverick

The stylish Santa Cruz and compact Maverick are both new, small unibody pickups focused on utility, but the similarities end there.

Traditionally, pickup trucks are about body on frame configurations, rear-wheel drive and two-speed transfer cases. Honda tried to innovate with the Ridgeline, a midsize pickup truck based on a minivan unibody setup that proved a truck could still be a truck while going down a different route – despite all the critics.

With the Ridgeline, Honda proved that trucks don’t necessarily need to fit inside a specific set of criteria, because after all, not everyone needs to tow 10,000 pounds. Many consumers buy these things simply because they need a bed in which to throw a few pieces of plywood, a dirt bike, or a large chunk of furniture. The rest of the time, what they want is a car. 

Hence why both Hyundai and Ford have decided to follow Honda’s footsteps by offering a different kind of truck. Yes, from a technical standpoint, the 2022 Ford Maverick and the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz have more in common with a compact SUV, yet they still somehow work at being utilitarian. We pit them against each other to see which one ranks best.


  • Our Pick: Hyundai Santa Cruz
  • Why we like it: looks like nothing else on the road, yet, still harvests traditional midsize pickup truck proportions. We dig the California beach surfer vibe.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Photo: Hyundai 

While Ford decided to go down a more traditional truck-like design with the Maverick, Hyundai really went all out. And it paid off, as the Santa Cruz is the one we prefer looking at.

The front section may be shared with the Tucson, but there’s no denying it's totally cool cyberpunk vibe, complete with an illuminated LED grille. From the side profile all the way to the rear, however, that futuristic stance gets diluted into a more rugged adventure-ready demeanor. 

But it all somehow works. There’s an emphasis on sportiness and adventure in the way the Santa Cruz looks, which should adhere well with its target buyers.


  • Our Pick: Hyundai Santa Cruz
  • Why we like it: The Santa Cruz’ higher price tag forces it to offer a more premium interior. It’s also larger inside.

2022 Santa Cruz interior vs 2022 Maverick interior | Photo: Hyundai, Ford 

Again, Ford decided to opt for utility versus superficial elements. It’s also important to underline that the Maverick starts at a considerably lower price bracket than the Santa Cruz, which meant Ford had to cut costs in some areas. This had an effect on build quality and the materials used.

But the Maverick is a comfortable trucklet to spend some time in. Visibility is also spot on due to its upright stance and large windows. Its infotainment system is a breeze to operate and comprehend and there’s a cute color scheme going on inside.

But it’s no match for the Santa Cruz’ near premium interior. The instrument cluster – all digital – borrows cues from the Tucson and presents itself throughout a clean, uncluttered, and modern vibe. The seating position is also fantastic in a Santa Cruz, and Hyundai did install seats that are considerably plushier than in the Ford.

Rear leg and head room is also more than ample in the Hyundai, comparable even to some midsize trucks currently on sale, whereas the Maverick does feel small inside. 

Our only gripe with the Santa Cruz’s cabin is its haptic feedback controls to operate the climate control setting. Traditional hard buttons always work better.


  • Our Pick: Tie
  • Why we like them: The Hyundai is quicker off the line, and tows more, but the Maverick offers a fuel-sipping hybrid variant.

Because these two vehicles do not exactly sit in the same segment, we had to observe their performance according to their intended function. We therefore gave them a tie, as they both offer something original.

Hyundai’s new truck boasts 281-hp and 5,000 pounds towing capacity

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Photo: Hyundai 

Based on numbers alone, it’s obvious that the Santa Cruz is the clear winner here. Its turbocharged 2.5-liter four cylinder is a beast next to the Maverick’s available 2.0-liter turbo, with 281 horsepower on tap and 311 lb-ft of torque. 

That engine is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic – an unusual choice for a pickup truck – which allows this truck-SUV to be rather quick off the line. Hyundai also claims a 5,000-pound towing rating, which puts the Santa Cruz neck to neck with a Honda Ridgeline.

Maverick is small but mighty backed by a fuel-sipping hybrid setup

2022 Ford Maverick | Photo: Ford 

The Maverick uses a more urban approach. It’s also a tad smaller than the Hyundai, which explains why its numbers aren’t as impressive. The largest available engine, the 2.0T, churns out 250 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. In this configuration, the little Maverick will tow 4,000 pounds, but only if you opt for Ford’s optional Tow package. 

Ford also offers a hybrid option for the Maverick, which allows it to sip much less fuel than its South-Korean rival. It’s essentially the same 2.5-liter hybrid four-cylinder that’s also found underneath the Ford Escape hybrid’s hood (read our full Escape PHEV review here), allowing the Maverick to steadily record combined fuel economy numbers under the 7L/100 km mark.

Verdict: Hyundai’s mid-size Santa Cruz or Ford’s compact pickup?

With these vehicles, Hyundai and Ford prove that a pickup can wear a different kind of suit, yet still attract truck buyers. Yes, they sit in different price brackets. Furthermore, although they both ride on compact SUV architectures, the Maverick is sized as a compact, while the Santa Cruz comes closer to a midsize truck. It’s therefore difficult to select a clear winner.

We appreciate the Maverick’s utilitarian approach, low entry price and frugal powertrain options, but our heart goes to the Santa Cruz for its bold approach, out of the box styling and spirited performance. 

It’s just a downright cool product, but also one that can perform like an actual truck from a towing standpoint. It’s a concept we wish more carmakers would also dare to offer.

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Specs: 2022 Santa Cruz Vs 2022 Maverick 


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Ford Maverick

Base Price




Turbocharged 2.5L I4

Hybrid 2.5L I4 / Turbocharged 2.0L I4


Eight-speed dual clutch automatic

CVT / Eight-speed automatic




Peak Horsepower

281 hp

191 hp / 250 hp

Peak Torque

311 lb-ft

155 lb/ft / 277 lb-ft

Fuel Economy

12.1 / 8.6 / 10.6 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb

Hybrid: 5.6 / 7.1 / 6.3 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb

2.0T: 10.7 / 8.1 / 9.4 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb

Towing Capacity

5,000 lb

2,000 lb / 4,000 lb with package

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