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As the small truck wars heat up, there are really just two compact pickups to choose from. The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz and the 2023 Ford Maverick. The Maverick might have traditional truck styling and come backed by a brand that is known for pickups. But there is still a lot to love about the 2023 Santa Cruz. So, what does this small truck bring to the table?

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz has a comfortable ride

Because the new Santa Cruz is a small truck that shares its platform with the Hyundai Tucson, it rides more like a car than a pickup. Some might appreciate a more rugged ride, but there is something to say about a Santa Cruz truck that doesn’t make you feel every single bump that you go over. 

Front angle view of Blue Stone 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup truck
Blue Stone 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

As a unibody pickup, the 2023 Santa Cruz is not as capable as something like a Toyota Tacoma. But you do not have to make the same compromises on things like handling and ride quality. This could come as a bit of a downside, though. Don’t expect the Hyundai Santa Cruz to handle serious off-road situations.

The 2023 Santa Cruz can tow more than the Ford Maverick

In terms of towing capacity, the 2023 Santa Cruz can handle more than the Maverick. When properly equipped, it can handle up to 5,000 pounds. While the best equipped Maverick can only tow 4,000 lbs. This towing capacity puts it on par with the Honda Ridgeline, which is another unibody truck. 

2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz vs. 2023 Ford Maverick
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

It is worth noting that the base engine of Hyundai’s small truck can only tow 3,500 lbs. But, depending on your specific needs, that might be enough towing capacity. At the end of the day, most people don’t tow things with their trucks all that often. If you do plan to do some legitimate towing, a mid-size truck or full-size pickup is likely the better option. 

This small truck has a turbocharged engine

If you want Hyundai’s small truck, opting for the larger engine is likely the right call. The base engine makes just 191 horsepower and 181 pound-foot of torque. But, you can still get it with optional all-wheel drive. The more potent 2.5-liter turbo cranks out 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. And those are respectable numbers for a vehicle of this size. 

Front angle view of blue 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz, highlighting affordable pickup truck alternatives costing under $28,000
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

The Hyundai Santa Cruz Just Got Its 2nd Recall

Unlike the 2023 Ford Maverick, Hyundai has not chosen to give its truck a hybrid engine. And considering how popular the Maverick Hybrid is, that’s kind of a confusing choice. Perhaps in the future, we’ll see a Santa Cruz Hybrid, but for now, the Maverick takes that prize. 

Can you buy the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz?

According to Car and Driver, the 2023 Santa Cruz does have a slight price increase, but it is not yet available. Finding a Santa Cruz will likely be easier than finding a Ford Maverick. And that will likely be one of its biggest advantages. 

The Maverick has been too popular for its own good. And it seems like Hyundai is able to keep up with the demand of its small truck.