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If it has a cab and a small bed, it’s obviously a truck, right? Not according to Hyundai. The all-new 2022 Santa Cruz is here, and despite its rather confusing truck-like features, the South Korean automaker insists it’s not a pickup truck. Instead, Hyundai wants us to call it a sport adventure vehicle. Though this is great news, there’s also another surprise from Hyundai that could mean spectacular things for the future.

What exactly is a sport adventure vehicle?

A front exterior shot of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz with its headlights and grille lit up
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz | © 2020 Hyundai Motor America

Currently, there are trucks, SUVs, sedans, vans, and crossovers. Hyundai is trying to create a new category with the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, and it wants to call it a sport adventure vehicle. 

There can be no denying that even though the Santa Cruz has some features commonly based on trucks, there’s something that just doesn’t quite fit that definition. The grille is too broad, the cab is too wide, and the bed is too short.

It’s definitely eye-catching, however, especially when it’s going off-road. The 2022 Santa Cruz is designed for an adventuresome community that is more concerned with things like the ability to climb rocks and cross rivers. The only looks they care about are when their vehicle is covered in mud.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is breaking a new record

Hyundai may not be one of the top automakers in the world, but the South Korean automaker has come a long way. It’s become a real contender in a very crowded market, and critics are beginning to take notice. Now on top of creating a new category of vehicle, Hyundai has broken a new personal record.

The Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant has never produced five models, until now. Ernie Kim, the HMMA President and CEO, stated, “The launch of the Santa Cruz is a further testament to the trust Hyundai Motor company puts in HMMA and our Alabama home. I am so proud of our Team Members for accomplishing this achievement while the world is going through such difficult times. We can’t wait for our customers to experience the innovative design and world-class quality the Santa Cruz will bring to the table.”

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has some real power

While its looks may leave you scratching your head, its performance will not. The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is equipped with a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that can produce 190 hp with 180 lb-ft of torque. The more powerful 2.5-liter four-cylinder cranks up the power to 275 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.

What the Santa Cruz can’t do is haul heavy loads. The max payload is a mere 1,300 pounds. The max towing capacity goes up to 5,000 pounds. That’s enough to haul stuff around town, but for anyone who has plans to tow a sailboat to the beach, it’s not going to happen.

Despite this, there is a slide-out cover over the bed, which is designed to protect any stored items. For those concerned about security, there is a trunk under the flatbed that locks, but you won’t be able to store much there. Regardless, its cool looks are enough to overlook this.

The best part of the 2022 Santa Cruz is the price. It starts at just $25,000. For someone who isn’t exactly crazy about big trucks, but likes the look of pickup trucks, then the Santa Cruz might be just what they’ve been looking for their whole life. 

It remains unclear if other automakers will develop sport adventure vehicles of their own. It will likely depend on how well the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz performs with its sales numbers. Since it doesn’t come out until late summer, we don’t know how the off-road community will respond. However, if it becomes an off-road icon, there’s no doubt that the sport adventure vehicle category will be here to stay.

RELATED: Don’t Plan to Take the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Off-Roading Just Yet