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A gray 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz parked on the pavement in a desert with mountains
Trucks & SUVs

Don’t Get It Twisted — the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Won’t Forget Where It Came From

The design team hails from California, so it's no surprise the Hyundai Santa Cruz pays homage to its roots. With brand-specific badging and features that any beach-goer would love, this 'sport adventure vehicle' personifies West Coast living.

A cross between an SUV and a pickup, the 2022 Santa Cruz is a “sport adventure vehicle,” Hyundai says. Made in America, it offers versatility for urban and off-road driving. Plus, the innovative vehicle’s design team hails from California, so it’s no surprise the Hyundai Santa Cruz pays homage to its beginnings. With brand-specific badging and features that any beach-going adventurer would love, this SAV personifies West Coast living.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Announcing the Santa Cruz’s debut, Hyundai Motor North America‘s CEO Jose Munoz said it “breaks open all-new segment territory, both for Hyundai and the industry as a whole.” He enthusiastically claimed, “Our customers will wonder just how they managed before owning one.”

Its designers are quick to point out that the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is not a truck but, instead, in a class by itself. “At its core, the Santa Cruz is — to oversimplify — the new 2022 Tucson shorn of its roof aft of the second-row seat,” Car and Driver reports. It also notes the similarities with concepts that created the 1957 Ford Ranchero and 1959 Chevy El Camino. 

Hyundai expects to begin production in June in Montgomery, Alabama. New models should be available for purchase this summer.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz’s connection to the California coastal town of the same name

The odd-looking vehicle draws inspiration from the “weird” little town of Santa Cruz. Located on the north-central coast of the Golden State, it doesn’t connect to any major thoroughfares. It’s home to the eccentric University of California, and its residents take pride in the school’s banana slug mascot.

Car and Driver muses that “maybe the Hyundai Santa Cruz is just weird enough for the town.”

The automaker is proud of the association the new Santa Cruz has with Golden State. So much so that the taillights bear the phrase “Designed in California.” According to MotorTrend, “Hyundai’s California design studio is responsible for the Santa Cruz’s sharp looks, and the company is proud enough of that fact to emblazon it right on the truck.”

Jeep and Tesla frequently hide Easter eggs in their vehicles. And it appears Hyundai is getting in on the action. Included on the top of the fender flares and molded into the bed rails is a side-profile drawing of the Santa Cruz vehicle.

What we know so far


What Can the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Do?

The unibody pickup’s closest competitor is the Honda Ridgeline. Both boast unique design features that set them apart from typical pickup trucks

Forbes reports the 2022 Santa Cruz will be available in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations. The lower trim levels will use a 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, generating up to 190 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. It can tow about 3,500 pounds.

Higher-end trims will pack a four-cylinder turbocharged engine producing 275-plus hp and up to 310 lb-ft of torque. Paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, it will boast steering-wheel paddle shifters. The AWD vehicle can tow an impressive 5,000 pounds.

Final pricing for the new California-inspired 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz will become available before sales begin this summer.