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The Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick are two small trucks that compete directly against each other. As compact pickups, they both bring a lot to the table. But the 2023 Santa Cruz has one key feature that might help it beat the Maverick. And that is the fact that both engine options can come equipped with all-wheel drive. 

Does the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz have AWD?

If you want an AWD truck, the 2023 Santa Cruz has what you are looking for. Although this small pickup comes standard with front-wheel drive, for an additional cost, you can get AWD. Not only that, both engines offer the option. 

Front angle view of blue 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup truck. Any Santa Cruz offers all-wheel drive.
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

The standard engine on Hyundai’s truck is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. It makes 191 horsepower and 181 pound-foot of torque. According to Car and Driver, the base engine does feel a little bit lackluster. But the benefit is that you can still get AWD if you choose. 

If you want something with more power, you can opt for a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine. This powerplant makes 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. It seems like it is better equipped at moving this small truck around. The more potent engine also comes standard with FWD, but you can upgrade to AWD. 

Only one Ford Maverick engine offers AWD

Unfortunately, if you want a 2023 Ford Maverick with AWD, you must get the EcoBoost engine. Thankfully, it can now be had without an additional fee, but you will be missing out on the efficiency of the hybrid engine. 

2023 Ford Maverick Tremor off-roading
2023 Ford Maverick Tremor | Ford

It has been rumored that there will be some form of Maverick Hybrid AWD truck, and that would be nice to see. A lot of times, folks want a truck with power going to all four wheels. AWD helps to handle things like inclement weather and can make for a more capable vehicle. 

I suppose it is nice that Ford removed the upcharge for the EcoBoost engine. But it would be great to see an AWD system available for the standard hybrid powertrain. 

The Hyundai Santa Cruz can out-tow the Ford Maverick

You can’t really talk about these small trucks without discussing towing abilities. Although the 2023 Maverick might look like a traditional pickup, the Hyundai Santa Cruz can tow more. When properly equipped, Hyundai’s truck can tow up to 5,000 pounds. With the Maverick, that number is limited to 4,000 lbs. 

2023 Night Edition Hyundai Santa Cruz
2023 Santa Cruz Night Edition | Santa Cruz

Although the Santa Cruz can handle more in terms of a trailer, the Blue Oval’s Maverick does win in one way. Hyundai has yet to give the Santa Cruz an actual off-road package. Meanwhile, you can buy a Ford Maverick Tremor or Maverick FX4. 

That does not mean that Ford’s small truck will be doing any rock crawling, but it can be had with some off-road chops. And it seems like plenty of consumers appreciate that fact. Maybe, at some point, we will see an off-road version of the Hyundai Santa Cruz.