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With the release of the 2022 Ford Maverick, the pickup truck world gets another unibody model. And the Maverick already has a chief rival: the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, which is also a unibody pickup. But whether large or small, trucks keep an eye on utility, especially when it comes to towing and hauling payloads. So, between the Maverick and Santa Cruz, which is the more capable gear mover?

The 2022 Ford Maverick can’t tow or carry as much weight as the Hyundai Santa Cruz

An orange 2022 Ford Maverick EcoBoost Lariat parked outside a light-strewn building
2022 Ford Maverick EcoBoost Lariat | Ford

Before its official release, Ford teased that the 2022 Maverick was getting a hybrid powertrain. At the time, we believed that it would be the truck’s optional powertrain. However, that’s not the case. The 2022 Ford Maverick comes standard as a hybrid, with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine linked to an electric motor. Together, they generate 191 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque, sent exclusively to the front wheels via a CVT.

However, AWD is an optional extra on the non-hybrid Maverick EcoBoost models. And these models come with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine linked to an eight-speed automatic. The turbocharged engine is also more powerful; it’s rated at 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque.

A gray-green 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz parked on a paved road in the desert
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz side 3/4 | Hyundai

In base form, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz also has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, though not a hybridized one. As of this writing, Hyundai hasn’t released the engine’s official output figures, but it estimates at least 190 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. It’s linked to an eight-speed automatic and is available with FWD and AWD.

But if you step up to the SEL Premium and Limited trims, the Hyundai Santa Cruz gets a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an eight-speed DCT. This engine makes an estimated 275 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, and again, FWD and AWD are available.

With less torque than the Santa Cruz, the Ford Maverick lags in terms of payload and towing capacity. The Maverick Hybrid can tow up to 2000 pounds; the EcoBoost maxes out at 4000 pounds with the optional towing package, Motor1 reports. Both models have the same 1500-lb payload capacity.

Meanwhile, the naturally-aspirated Hyundai Santa Cruz has a 3500-lb towing capacity, Autoblog notes. With the turbocharged engine, that increases to 5000 pounds. And both models can carry up to 1748 pounds.

But on paper, the 2022 Ford Maverick can carry bigger objects further

However, while the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz can tow more than the Ford Maverick, the former’s payload capacity has an asterisk. The Santa Cruz’s bed is limited to 660 pounds, Autoblog points out. In contrast, the Maverick’s bed can carry the full 1500 pounds. Also, while the Ford Maverick is narrower than the Santa Cruz, its bed is longer.

Plus, at least on paper, the Maverick might be more fuel-efficient than the Santa Cruz. The EPA rates the AWD non-turbocharged Santa Cruz at 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway, with the FWD version seeing 26 mpg on the highway. And in Turbo AWD form, Hyundai’s pickup gets 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway.

The rear 3/4 view of a gray-green 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz driving down a desert road
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz rear 3/4 | Hyundai

As of this writing, EPA fuel-efficiency estimates for the 2022 Ford Maverick aren’t available. However, Ford estimates the Hybrid trim gets 40 mpg city. And with the EcoBoost powertrain, the related Escape gets 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway. While the Maverick EcoBoost likely won’t be quite as efficient, it might have the Santa Cruz Turbo beat.

Do other features make up the difference?

Various items in the underseat storage bins of a 2022 Ford Maverick EcoBoost Lariat
2022 Ford Maverick EcoBoost Lariat underseat storage bins | Ford

Both the 2022 Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz have a few more competing features. For example, unlike the Maverick, the Hyundai pickup has under-bed storage complete with a drain hole. Both models have storage spaces underneath the rear seats, though. However, the Maverick has built-in slots sprinkled throughout designed for future 3D-printed accessories, MotorTrend notes.

Ford’s compact pickup might also be cheaper than the Santa Cruz. The base Maverick Hybrid XL starts at $19,9995 before destination; with it, the price is $21,490. And the range-topping Hybrid Lariat starts at $26,985 after destination. As of this writing, Hyundai hasn’t released official Santa Cruz pricing details. But Car and Driver estimates a $25,000-$35,000 price range for the pickup.

In terms of towing and overall payload, then, the Hyundai Santa Cruz has the edge over the Ford Maverick. But putting large, heavy items in the latter’s bed will be easier to do. Refueling a Maverick might also be kinder on the wallet. So, if you’re trying to choose between them, it comes down to which factor is more important.

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