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The Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz have revived the compact pickup segment in the U.S. and continue to battle for truck buyers who don’t need the size or capability of a midsize or full-size offering. The Maverick continues to outpace the Santa Cruz for popularity among buyers, but fewer Ford owners are also lodging complaints about the model than its only rival. 

2023 Ford Maverick vs. Hyundai Santa Cruz: Comparing owner complaints

Complaints made by owners and lodged against the 2023 Ford Maverick through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are 29 compared to 35 complaints against the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz. 

The most recent complaints, of this writing, for the 2023 Maverick concern a brief loss of power. Two owners noted they lost engine power, one after hitting a bump and the other climbing a hill. However, the issue apparently resolved itself after coming to a stop, turning the engine off, and restarting the truck. Others have noted harsh shutters from the Maverick switching from electric to combustion power, with one complaining the Maverick appeared to be stuck in limp mode. 

Another consistent complaint is the Maverick’s “grabby” brakes, especially at lower speeds. 

The 2023 Santa Cruz has received more complaints, though there are fewer consistencies than those lodged against the Maverick. However, several Santa Cruz owners have complained of a loss of engine power. A few owners have reported stymied power results in the transmission refusing to shift, and some reported the issue occurred while using the Hyundai’s cruise control. At least two owners have complained of water intrusion on the rear of Santa Cruz, either under the tonneau cover or into the rear lights. Several owners have also filed complaints for faulty headlights or lighting performance. 

Why you’d expect the Ford Maverick to have more complaints

Though both the 2023 Maverick and Santa Cruz have their fair share of complaints filed through the NHTSA, it is a bit surprising the Maverick has less. If for nothing else, the Maverick simply has far more owners that could potentially file a complaint. 

According to GoodCarBadCar, Hyundai has sold 31,638 Santa Cruz models through the first 10 months of 2023, a modest 6% increase over this time last year. However, that figure pales in comparison to the Maverick. Ford sold nearly 24,000 Mavericks in the third quarter of this year alone. Hyundai’s Q3 sales for the Santa Cruz were less than half that figure at 9,033 units. 

With far more owners behind the wheel of the 2023 Maverick versus the Santa Cruz, it could bode well for Ford that its compact pickup actually has fewer NHTSA complaints lodged against it. 

Add this to the list of advantages for Ford

The Ford Maverick has several notable advantages over the Santa Cruz, and many drive to the heart of pickup matters. For instance, the 2023 Maverick offers a slightly larger bed, is more economical with its standard hybrid engine (now an option for the 2024 model year), and costs about $3,000 less in its base form. 

The Santa Cruz has the advantage of towing with a capacity of up to 5,000 pounds, 1,000 more than the Ford. However, Hyundai requires buyers to purchase an aftermarket brake controller to reach its full towing capability. The Santa Cruz only offers seven-pin connectors when dishing out for an upper trim model starting over $38,000. Meanwhile, the Maverick offers seven-pin connectors as part of a $745 package. 

The Santa Cruz has its own list of advantages, such as a more compliant ride, a class-leading warranty, and better tech and safety features, though its longer list of complaints through the NHTSA is also notable.