Does the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Make the Honda Ridgeline Irrelevant?

After years of waiting and looking at teaser images, Hyundai has finally revealed the 2022 Santa Cruz pickup truck. Er, sorry, not truck, “sport adventure vehicle.” Still, regardless of what Hyundai technically calls it, it’s exciting to see the Santa Cruz running and hauling about. Especially since it gives the Honda Ridgeline a genuine cross-town rival. But does the Santa Cruz have what it takes to take Honda’s truck on?

Despite some initial rumors to the contrary, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has a unibody platform. Specifically, it rides on the same platform as the Tucson, MotorTrend reports. And it pits the Santa Cruz directly against the Honda Ridgeline, which, until now, was the only unibody production truck on the market.

How much can the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz carry and tow compared to the 2021 Honda Ridgeline?

As the Ridgeline demonstrates, a unibody truck isn’t necessarily a worse truck, especially when it comes to urban driving. But while on-road comfort is important, people often buy trucks to haul trailers and cargo. And in that regard, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz compares well to the 2021 Honda Ridgeline—with some caveats.

A gray 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz on a desert parking lot
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz side 3/4 | Hyundai

The 2022 Santa Cruz will offer two different powertrains, The Drive reports. The base model has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine linked to an eight-speed automatic. As of this writing, Hyundai hasn’t finalized the 2.5-liter engine’s output, but it’s estimated to offer at least 190 hp and 180 lb-ft.

But if that’s not enough oomph, there’s an optional 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with at least 275 hp and 310 lb-ft linked to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. AWD is standard with the turbocharged engine and optional with the naturally-aspirated one, Car and Driver reports.

A gray 2021 Honda Ridgeline with bronze HPD wheels and two red dirt bikes in the bed in a mountain forest
2021 Honda Ridgeline with HPD accessories | Honda

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline, meanwhile, only has one powertrain/drivetrain combo. Each trim has a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 280 hp and 262 lb-ft linked to an eight-speed automatic. And while Honda previously offered the Ridgeline in FWD-form, for 2021 the truck is AWD-only.

In terms of towing capacity, the Ridgeline tops out at 5000 pounds, The Drive reports. So does the Hyundai Santa Cruz, but only with the turbocharged engine. In N/A form, it can only tow 3500 pounds. The trucks also have fairly similar payload capacities. Honda limits the Ridgeline at 1400 pounds, Autotrader reports, while Hyundai rates the Santa Cruz at 1410 pounds.

But although the 2022 Santa Cruz can carry roughly as much weight as the Ridgeline, it can’t hold as much. That’s because its bed is about a foot shorter than the Honda’s bed, The Drive reports. However, the two beds are roughly the same width, Autoweek and Roadshow report. And like the Ridgeline, the Santa Cruz has an under-bed storage area, MT reports.

Can these two unibody pickup trucks go off-road?

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Not every pickup truck can off-road like a Raptor or a TRX. However, that is part of a truck’s appeal to many buyers. Admittedly, it’s not like most Hyundai Santa Cruz or Honda Ridgeline owners will try to tackle Moab unassisted. But do these trucks have at least some degree of off-pavement acumen?

Compared to something like a Tacoma TRD Pro, the 2021 Honda Ridgeline might disappoint some hardcore off-roaders, Motor1 reports. It ‘only’ has 7.6” of ground clearance, and approach, departure, and break-over angles of 20.4°, 19.6°, and 19.6°, respectively.

The rear view of a gray 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz driving through the desert
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz rear | Hyundai

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As of this writing, Hyundai hasn’t released the Santa Cruz’s off-road angles. But it does have 8.6” of ground clearance, MT reports. And while the Ridgeline doesn’t have any true locking differentials, MT reports, you can lock the Santa Cruz’s center diff. However, the Hyundai truck doesn’t have the Honda truck’s torque-vectoring rear differential.

Will the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz cost more than the 2021 Honda Ridgeline?

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The 2021 Honda Ridgeline lineup starts with the $36,490 Sport trim and tops out at the $43,920 Black Edition. As of this writing, Hyundai hasn’t released 2022 Santa Cruz pricing. However, MT estimates the base SE model will start around $26,000. Based on the 2021 Tucson’s trim lineup, the range-topping Santa Cruz Limited will likely start at about $35,000.

In short, the Santa Cruz will be slightly cheaper than the Honda Ridgeline. Admittedly, the Ridgeline is larger and has a multi-function tailgate and several extra options, such as an in-bed audio system and power outlet. But in terms of safety and infotainment features, both trucks offer standard Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, lane-keeping assist, and forward-collision warning.

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The Ridgeline does have some extra standard features, including adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring, Car and Driver reports. However, while the Santa Cruz’s standard 8” touchscreen matches the Honda’s screen, the Hyundai truck offers an optional 10.25” touchscreen that’s standard on the Limited. Plus, unlike the Ridgeline, it has wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

In its cheapest form, then, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz can’t quite match what the 2021 Honda Ridgeline offers. But that Limited model evens the playing field considerably, even though it still packs a smaller bed. We’ll just have to wait until we can drive them back-to-back to truly pick a winner.

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