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Apparently the award-winning Hyundai Santa Cruz isn’t recommended by some critics who recommend getting other vehicles instead. It’s racking the title of the best truck left and right, so what’s the issue? Why do some outlets rank models above the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz?

What are the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz problems? 

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz off-roading in the woods
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

According to Car and Driver, the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz just doesn’t cut the mustard. It landed on a Best of 2023 and 2024, but failed to achieve 10Best or Editor’s Choice status. Tons of outlets put a list together with the best car-like trucks to buy, and the Santa Cruz often falls short. It isn’t as highly ranked as 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. 

Car and Driver shared that the 2023 Santa Cruz drives like a car with responsive handling, a comfortable ride, and easy maneuverability.  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 ranked over the 2023 Santa Cruz? 

One recommended 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz alternative includes the 2023 Honda Ridgeline. It got a higher score than the Santa Cruz during the road test. The Ridgeline 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. It has a predicted reliability score of 78 from J.D.Power, which is above average.

Plus, the Ridgeline starts at $38,800, and the Santa Cruz begins at around $26,995. We thought affordability went into the rankings, but in this case it seems critics think the extra spend may be worth it for the quality found in the Honda pickup truck. 

Why is the Ford Maverick ranked over the Santa Cruz? 

A yellow 2023 Ford Maverick is driving down the road
Ford Maverick | Ford

Another 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz alternative is the 2023 Ford Maverick. The 2023 Maverick is praised 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 some critics. Plus, it’s comfortable and provides tons of standard value. 


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