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The Hyundai Santa Cruz is not as successful as the Ford Maverick, but it has still been a popular small truck. It boasts a 5,000-pound towing capacity, a usable interior, and comes with Hyundai’s extensive warranty. But two things might be able to make it an even better compact pickup. Especially if the brand can keep the Santa Cruz’s relatively affordable price point. 

Is the Hyundai Santa Cruz a real truck?

Now, the Santa Cruz is not a full-size truck like the Ford F-150, but it is a truck. It offers the versatility of a pickup bed and even has a decent towing capacity. Maybe it doesn’t look like a traditional pickup, but it can still do truck stuff. 

According to Car and Driver, it also has a starting price of around $25k. And that is pretty cheap when you compare it to other new trucks that are on the market. So, how could Hyundai improve its compact pickup?

There should be a PHEV Santa Cruz

A popular option for the Ford Maverick seems to be its hybrid powertrain. By getting the hybrid, folks can get good fuel economy from their small truck. As it stands, the Hyundai Santa Cruz does not have a hybrid option. You can either get it with a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engine or a turbocharged engine that makes 281 horsepower and 311 pound-foot of torque. 

A black 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz truck parked in a green area.
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai Motor Company

A plug-in hybrid Santa Cruz would give consumers the option to get both a gas engine and the benefits of some electric range. The Hyundai Tucson, which this small truck shares its platform with, does have a PHEV option. And it seems like the brand is missing out by not having that kind of powertrain offered to the Santa Cruz. 

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is a small truck that could get a PHEV system.
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz Night | Hyundai

Heck, even a traditional hybrid system would likely boost the popularity of the Hyundai Santa Cruz. Folks getting this vehicle are often not your typical truck buyer. And they might be more receptive of that kind of powertrain. 

Give us a Hyundai Santa Cruz N

Now, it might seem logical to equip the Hyundai Santa Cruz with some off-road ability. But, the brand does have a fairly successful performance division. If this compact pickup got a performance boost, it could be a legitimate enthusiast pick. 

As Hyundai's small truck, could there be a Santa Cruz N?
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

Hyundai has not shied away from giving its SUVs the “N” treatment. So, it’s not reserved for hot hatches like the Veloster. If it gave the Santa Cruz a horsepower boost, tuned suspension, and some sporty bodywork, it is hard not to see this small truck being a bigger hit. 

Of course, I would not complain if an off-road-oriented Santa Cruz did hit the market. But it would be hard to see this truck competing with something like the Maverick Tremor. A Santa Cruz N would be a unique offering. Plus, it is something that Hyundai already knows how to do. 

Can you buy Hyundai’s small truck?

Unlike the Ford Maverick, you can actually buy a new Santa Cruz. You might have to look hard for one, but it’s not like this Korean car manufacturer is having to close order books.

Related Edmunds Has Some Strong Feelings About the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Edmunds Has Some Strong Feelings About the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz