Consumer Reports: Avoid the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz

We are shocked because the award-winning Hyundai Santa Cruz isn’t recommended by Consumer Reports! It’s racking the title of the best truck left and right, so what’s the issue? Why does Consumer Reports recommend avoiding the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz?

What are the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz problems? 

A 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz shows off as a small truck.
Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

According to Consumer Reports, the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz just doesn’t cut the mustard. Consumer Reports put a list together with the best-car-like trucks to buy, and the Santa Cruz fell short. It isn’t recommended like the Honda Ridgeline, and Ford Maverick are. 

The list features trucks that offer the best of both worlds between an SUV and a truck as they combine to become one vehicle. 

CR shared that the 2023 Santa Cruz drives like a car with responsive handling, a comfortable ride, and easy maneuverability. It even did well during the road test. But performance isn’t everything. 

The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine provides 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. It’s a bit strained. While they consider it to be underpowered, it seems to be a good start. 

Plus, it gets an EPA-estimated 24 mpg, which is the best fuel economy among non-hybrid small trucks. You can upgrade to the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine for 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. 

Also, the Santa Cruz gets dinged for its below-average reliability rating. But J.D. Power gave it a score of 83 out of 100, which is great, while anything between 90 – 100 is considered to be the best. 

Why is the Honda Ridgeline recommended over the 2023 Santa Cruz? 

A recommended 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz alternative includes the 2023 Honda Ridgeline. It got a higher score than the Santa Cruz during the road test. It provides a quiet interior, a comfortable ride, clever cargo solutions, and an in-bed trunk. 

It has a 2.5-liter V6 engine that cranks out 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. But the Ridgeline and Santa Cruz both tow up to 5,000 lbs. 

Potential reasons to avoid the 2023 Honda Ridgeline include its shallow bed, limited off-road capabilities, and low towing rating. But it has a predicted reliability score of 78 from J.D.Power.

Plus, the Ridgeline starts at $38,800, and the Santa Cruz begins at around $26,995. We thought affordability went into the rankings. 

Why is the Ford Maverick recommended over the Santa Cruz? 

Front angle view of orange 2023 Ford Maverick, the most affordable new 2023 Ford model, costing under $30,000
2023 Ford Maverick | Ford

RELATED: 2022 Ford Maverick First Impressions: Little Truck, Big Deal

Another 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz alternative is the 2023 Ford Maverick. Consumer Reports praised the 2023 Maverick for having a competent ride, responsive handling, agile performance, plenty of visibility, easy access, and well-labeled controls. 

Visibility can seem limited in the Hyundai Santa Cruz, and there are primarily touchscreen controls. People may prefer more physical buttons. 

But the standard Ford Maverick can’t be equipped with all-wheel drive, and the higher trims can only tow up to 4,000 lbs. Consumer Reports recommends avoiding it because it’s noisy and the cabin quality is cheap. 

The Maverick got a reliability score of 81 from J.D.Power but starts at $22,195, providing savings. The standard hybrid engine gets an EPA-estimated 37 mpg, but you need the more expensive engine for AWD. 

Perhaps the Hyundai Santa Cruz deserves a recommendation. It’s pretty reliable according to other critics, it’s comfortable, and provides tons of standard value.