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Sure, the Ford Maverick has more sales than the Hyundai Santa Cruz, but that doesn’t mean it has more street cred. While the Maverick stays at home, the Hyundai Santa Cruz has been busting its butt over hundreds of miles in the grueling Rebelle Rally. 

Is the Ford Maverick or Hyundai Santa Cruz better for off-roading? 

On paper, the Ford Maverick might look like the better off-roader. It actually has the FX4 off-roading package and the Tremor model. But the Hyundai Santa Cruz doesn’t have an off-roading package or trim yet. 

However, it’s shown true grit for completing the Rebelle rally two years in a row! The Ford Maverick has stayed home even though Ford North American Communications Director Mike Levine is a huge fan. 

He’s out at the competition every year, documenting competitors like the Ford Bronco, Sport, and even the Mustang Mach-E. So why did the Maverick stay home?

The Ford Maverick FX4 package adds front tow hooks, skid plates, a heavy-duty engine fan and radiator, a trailer hitch receiver, 17-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires, hill descent control, and additional off-roading modes for sand and mud/ruts. 

With the Maverick Tremor, you get a one-inch suspension lift for a 9.4-inch ground clearance, tow hooks, 17-inch heels wrapped in all-terrain tires, steel skid plates, a lower fascia for a better approach angle, a heavy-duty transmission cooler, upgraded half-shafts, enhanced springs/shocks, and a locking rear differential. 

For off-roading, the Hyundai Santa Cruz has an 8.6-inch ground clearance, a 360-degree camera, wider fenders, side rails for the bed, AWD, and a differential lock. 

Was the Santa Cruz modified for the Rebelle Rally? 

The Hyundai Santa Cruz was slightly modified to compete in the 2023 Rebelle Rally. However, there are strict limitations to follow. The vehicles are primarily stock and must be street-legal. This is to show how capable vehicles in your driveway really are. 

For example, tires can be larger than 37 inches, and after-market suspension setups are prohibited. Each vehicle is inspected prior to the rally to ensure compliance. 

The Hyundai Santa Cruz competed with a Truxxx lift kit that added 1.5 inches in front and 1.0 inches in the rear, a front recovery mount, a skid plate, a custom front bumper, and 17-inch Falken Wildpeak A/T3W off-road tires. 

Also, all navigation, mapping, and electronic communication devices are prohibited and removed. Certain checkpoints must be mapped out and found via classic paper maps and compasses. 

Why is the Rebelle Rally a big deal? 

An overland ready Santa Cruz truck posing in the sand.
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

The Rebelle Rally is the ultimate proving ground. It’s an eight-day competition that takes place over 1,500 miles across the Nevada and California deserts. The competition is for women only, and they don’t have phones. Just their clothes, camping gear, and supplies. 

Simply finding the competition is a significant victory, and the Hyundai Santa Cruz has done it twice. It’s not a race for speed. Instead, the competition tests your navigation and off-roading skills. 

There are a certain amount of checkpoints to find each day, and you aren’t given any clues about their location until about an hour before the rally starts each morning. 

Some checkpoints are harder to find but provide more points. Also, there’s only 10 to 12 hours to find them each day. Each team has a driver and a navigator to help tackle challenging terrain while staying on route. 

Team Brute Squad, with Jill Ciminillo and Kristen Shaw, has piloted the Hyundai Santa Cruz twice. Both members spent time driving and navigating. 

The Ford Maverick should compete to see if it can keep up in the wild. It’s better equipped as a stock vehicle and is generally more popular.