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The 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a compact truck that offers plenty of utility and comfort, given its dimensions. In its base form, the Santa Cruz SE has plenty to offer right out of the box for only $26,650. But if you’re looking for more tech-savvy features, the Santa Cruz SEL is the way to go at $29,400. However, stepping up to the new-for-2024 XRT trim will cost you around $10,000 more. That’s a huge step, but is it worth it?

What does the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT come with?

A front head-on view of the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT
2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Don’t get too excited. Although the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT looks off-road ready, the new trim level is mostly an appearance package. The Santa Cruz XRT has some brawny-looking accessories like side steps, larger fender flares, bed rails, and orange-capped wheels, but that’s about it.

Other additions over the lower Santa Cruz SEL trim level include adaptive cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a turbocharged engine under the hood. It’s the same engine that comes in the top-trim Limited, which means the XRT trim level offers a good blend of power and practicality.

Speaking of practicality, the XRT’s side steps make the truck look rugged, but they’re not as practical as they would seem. Since the truck sits low to the ground, there’s not much need for them, and we found ourselves stepping over them to get in and out of the cabin.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL comes well-equipped

Although the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT has a rugged vibe and some nifty offroad-esque features, we think the SEL trim will suffice for most buyers. The SEL trim level is one step above the base model and, most notably, comes equipped with a remote start, dual-zone climate control, an 8-way power driver’s seat, and a remote release tailgate.

The only downside is that the Santa Cruz SEL also comes equipped with cloth seats and the naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter engine that makes 191 hp but gets up to 23 mpg combined. In comparison, the Santa Cruz XRT has nearly 100 more horses with its 281-hp engine.

We have tested both of these engines in the past and can say the turbocharged engine fits the truck a lot more. However, the non-turbo engine moves it along just fine.

Is the Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT trim worth the money?

A rear corner view of the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT
2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Considering the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT costs around $10,000 more than the SEL trim level, we would say the extra equipment isn’t worth the money. The SEL trim level comes with all of the convenience features most drivers need daily except for the strong turbocharged engine.

If that extra power is something you need every day, the extra money you’ll pay for the XRT could be worth it. However, if you only need amenities like a power driver’s seat, remote start, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, we suggest sticking with the SEL.