The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a versatile vehicle blending the best features of an SUV and a pickup truck. If you have the occasional need for a truck but want something with the smooth ride and handling of a car, this might be precisely what you’re looking for. Industry experts have taken a long look at this entry in the compact truck class. What does Santa Cruz have to offer? How does it match up to other small pickups?
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
The new Santa Cruz is an elegant and versatile alternative to the mid-sized trucks available on today’s market. It offers a composed ride, looks great inside and out, and the cargo bed is highly useful. It starts at $24,140, but the price can go up sharply as you move through trims and features.
You can’t tow much with the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz because it’s smaller and has unibody construction. Like the Honda Ridgeline, it sports a crew cab with a short truck bed. However, unlike the Honda, it’s stylish with a more upscale interior.
Four trim levels are available for the 2022 Santa Cruz, and all have the same body style. The base SE and SEL models have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with a power output of 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. The SE Premium and Limited models get a turbocharged engine that gets 281 hp. All models get an automatic eight-speed transmission.
You can get the SE and SEL models as either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The Premium and Limited models are all-wheel drive only. Standard features include an 8-inch touch screen with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth functionality. You also get a six-speaker audio system, HD radio, keyless entry, and two USB ports.
You also get cloth upholstery, automatic high-beam headlights, halogen headlights, load-leveling rear shocks, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Safety features include automatic emergency braking, driver attention alert, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, rear-seat alert, and a rearview camera.
The Consumer Reports road test
The Consumer Reports team took an SEL Premium model of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz for a test drive. The turbo engine was more athletic and could make it from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds. They found the transmission to be a little awkward, but shifting was pretty smooth.
The Santa Cruz also handles well, especially in turns, even with its light steering. It has a composed ride that’s more like an SUV than a truck. Its suspension absorbs the blows from the road. Its smaller size makes it easier to park in various places.
With the turbo engine and AWD, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz can tow up to 5,000 pounds and haul up to 1,400 pounds. Its composite cargo bed features a concealed trunk and a hard, built-in tonneau cover on the higher trims.
The Santa Cruz has many great standard safety features, like automatic emergency braking with cyclist and pedestrian detection. It also has a forward collision alert, lane departure alert, and lane-keeping assist.
You get a blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert with a rear automatic braking standard on all but the base model. They aren’t available with the SE model. Adaptive cruise control is only available with the top-shelf Limited models.
How it matches up with the rest of the class
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has a cargo bed that’s just over four feet long. That’s the shortest bed of any pickup truck, including the 2022 Ford Maverick and the 2022 Honda Ridgeline. That being the case, you probably can’t carry many things in it, like bicycles or other sizable items.
Touted as a “Sport Adventure Vehicle” by Hyundai, the Santa Cruz would work for tailgating with coolers and grills, moving gardening and landscaping gear, hauling a tackle box, or your fishing gear while you’re towing a smaller boat.
The Consumer Report team found it got 24 mpg overall on standard fuel during testing. That beats the 20 mpg overall that the 2022 Ford Ranger and Ridgeline get.
On the Consumer Report list of best compact pickup trucks in 2022, the Hyundai Santa Cruz came in third behind the Ridgeling and Ranger. The team hasn’t tested the Maverick or the 2022 Nissan Frontier yet, so only time will tell.