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Hyundai debuted the Santa Cruz compact pickup truck for the 2022 model year. It’s smaller than top sellers like the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 but more affordable. The standard Santa Cruz starts at $24,440. That’s thousands of dollars less than the base models of many trucks, including the F-150 and Ram 1500.

Car and Driver named the Santa Cruz an editors’ choice for 2022. But C/D’s recommended trim — the Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL Premium — will cost you well above the starting MSRP.

How much does the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL Premium cost?

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai Motor America

There are four trim options for the 2022 Santa Cruz: the base SE, SEL, SEL Premium, and Limited. The SEL Premium is Car and Driver’s pick for the best option. C/D’s reviewers say it costs $37,425. Hyundai states the starting MSRP for that trim is slightly lower at $36,130.

Overall, the SEL Premium trim will cost more than $10,000 above the starting price. That’s nearly 50% more than the base-model SE and higher than standard full-size pickups such as the F-150 or Chevrolet Silverado 1500. It’s also pricier than base models of midsize trucks such as the Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger, and Chevy Colorado.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL Premium specs

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL Premium comes with the more powerful of the two powertrain options: a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It produces 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. In comparison, the base SE and SEL trims come with a fuel-efficient 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 191 hp and 181 hp, respectively. 

As for fuel economy, the Santa Cruz SEL Premium gets 22 mpg combined (19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway). Car and Driver reviewers noted better fuel economy during an extensive test, notching 30 mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive is standard, and this little pickup truck can tow 5,000 pounds. The maximum payload capacity for the 4-foot-4-inch truck bed is 1,631 pounds. And the truck features an in-bed trunk.

Because it shares a basic platform with the compact crossover Hyundai Tucson and uses unibody construction, the Hyundai Santa Cruz offers agile handling and better maneuverability than rivals, Car and Driver reviewers note. 

Like many other Hyundai models, the Santa Cruz comes with attractive warranties. The basic warranty is five years or 60,000 miles. The drivetrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles. The rust and roadside warranties are unlimited in miles but go for seven and five years, respectively. Complimentary maintenance is good for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

SEL Premium features

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL Premium is loaded with technology and comfort features. The leather-wrapped steering wheel frames the fully digital gauge cluster, a first in its class. Wireless smartphone charging and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard. In addition, an eight-inch touchscreen and six-speaker sound system come in each SEL Premium model.

In the back, the bed has a household-style power outlet, LED lighting, and a lockable cargo bin. Plus, there are roof rails, a sunroof, and digital key capability, meaning you can use a smartphone as a car key.

Drivers’ aids such as optional adaptive cruise control and driver-attention warnings stand out to Car and Driver reviewers. They also like the plethora of standard features, including forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Is the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL Premium worth the price?

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz’s primary rival is the Ford Maverick. The latter is also a compact truck that debuted for the 2022 model year. The base Maverick carries a lower price tag (Ford says the base model starts at $19,995) and comes with a standard hybrid engine that gets a combined 37 mpg. 

A trim more comparable to the Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL Premium is the Ford Maverick XLT with a few extras, including all-wheel drive, a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine making 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, and a luxury package. All of that bumps the price to about $31,470, still a few thousand less than the SEL Premium. 

The SEL Premium has higher towing and payload numbers, more standard technology, and better warranties. That puts it ahead of other contenders in the class. TrueCar names the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz the best midsize truck on the market. But if cost is the primary factor in deciding on the Santa Cruz SEL Premium, there are better value choices.