The Ford Maverick Left the Struggling Hyundai Santa Cruz Behind

The 2022 Ford Maverick and 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz went head-to-head in an off-roading battle. As the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick climbed over steep rocks, they both displayed unique strengths and weaknesses. 

Off-Roading battle: The 2022 Ford Maverick vs. the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 

The 2022 Ford Maverick in the woods
2022 Ford Maverick | Ford

The team at TFL Off-Road took the 2022 Ford Maverick and 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz up on some rocky mountain trails to see which compact option was better equipped to tackle the wild. They didn’t use the Maverick Hybrid because it can’t be paired with all-wheel drive. 

So the Maverick is equipped with the more powerful 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine with 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. The Hyundai Santa Cruz is equipped with a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. 

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

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is equipped with a center differential lock, hill descent control, and a 360-degree camera. You can see what’s in front of you to navigate over challenges. But these features didn’t provide much help. 

Because the Santa Cruz is equipped with regular tires, it was slipping quite a bit. A lot of momentum was needed to climb over the easier inclines on the trail. The hill descent control did slow the truck down, but the tires lost grip again. Also, the dual-clutch is prone to overheating. 

The 2022 Ford Maverick doesn’t have hill descent control, but it has a low gear. It also has a slippery driving mode. It doesn’t have a 360-degree or forward-facing camera. But it does have narrower tires with more tread that provide more grip. 

Both trucks have an 8.6-inch ground clearance. The Maverick has a 21.6-degree approach angle, while the Santa Cruz has a 17.5-degree approach angle. 

On the more difficult parts of the trail, the Santa Cruz was losing momentum and slipping back down the hill. Then the driver could smell clutch fluid, and they were afraid that the transmission would overheat. 

The Maverick has a bit of an easier time going up the steeper incline. However, the Hyundai Santa Cruz has a better break-over angle, so it may not have skidded against the rocks as much. They didn’t have the Maverick FX4 package that adds front tow hooks and beefier tires. 

Both trucks struggled with the off-roading challenges, but the Santa Cruz struggled a bit more. Perhaps larger tires would have helped both trucks, but the Maverick won the off-roading challenge. 

Is the Santa Cruz or Maverick better for daily driving? 

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz near the beach
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

While the 2022 Ford Maverick was the more confident off-roader, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz may serve as the sportier and more comfortable daily driver. The dual-clutch transmission and paddle shifters on the steering wheel increase driver engagement. 

According to Edmunds, the Santa Cruz has a smoother ride quality with more responsive handling than the Maverick. The Santa Cruz handles more like an SUV than a truck and may have a quieter interior. 

The seats in the Santa Cruz provide a little more support and passenger space too. Both trucks can fit 4×8 sheets of plywood in the back, and the Santa Cruz has a lockable storage bin in the bed. 

The Maverick can tow up to 4,000 lbs and comes with an integrated brake controller. The Hyundai Santa Cruz can tow up to 5,000 lbs, but you’ll have to purchase an integrated brake controller. 

Both trucks are compact and versatile. While the Maverick is slightly better for off-roading, both trucks could be improved with a beefier off-roading package, and the Ford Maverick Tremor might be on the way. Both trucks will handle ice and snow, but the Maverick might get you farther down the trail as the Santa Cruz provides more comfort.

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