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Pickup trucks are great vehicles for a lot of reasons. Small pickup trucks are especially alluring because they combine the versatility of a truck with the car-like attitude of an SUV. If you’re looking for a small truck that can get you where you need to go safely and reliably while still being able to handle a workload, you may be overwhelmed by the number of trucks on the market. Yet if safety is one of your priorities, you really only have one option: the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz.

A white 2022  Hyundai Santa Cruz against a white background.
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is the safest of the small pickup trucks

Of all the small pickup trucks out there, the only one evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to be safe enough to hold the title of Top Safety Pick is the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz. The Top Safety Pick award is given to trucks that have good crashworthiness scores, good or acceptable headlights available on all models, and superior or advanced safety systems available. 

The Hyundai Santa Cruz has all good crashworthiness scores. Its headlight ratings are both good and poor. Its front crash prevention vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian are both superior. Unfortunately, this is the only pickup truck that has any safety award.

The IIHS awards make it easy to pick the safest SUVs

An IIHS Top Safety Pick award is important because it helps consumers choose the safest SUVs. By testing vehicles and sharing the results, the IIHS allows consumers to be more aware of potential issues with their vehicles, and car manufacturers have more accountability. The IIHS’ tests have evolved to keep pushing safety standards higher, which is important for both car buyers and manufacturers.

Although a vehicle winning the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award is obviously a positive when you’re car shopping, not all vehicles with these awards are equal. The IIHS says, “These awards identify the best vehicle choices for safety within size categories during a given year. Larger, heavier vehicles generally afford more protection than smaller, lighter ones. Thus, a small car that qualifies for an award might not protect its occupants as well as a bigger vehicle that doesn’t earn the award.”

How much is the Hyundai Santa Cruz?

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz price starts at $24,440 for the base model, the SE. The 2022 Santa Cruz is smaller than most midsize trucks, which makes it attractive to those torn between something compact and something a little bigger. It comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 181 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque. That’s matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel-drive, though you can upgrade to all-wheel drive.

It also comes with an 8-inch touchscreen that’s compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a six-speaker sound system. As far as safety features, the 2022 Santa Cruz comes with forward collision warning and lane-keep assist. These features make it feel almost like an SUV, which Edmunds says is one of the best parts of the Hyundai Santa Cruz.


1 Important Thing the IIHS Says Pickup Trucks Need