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Well, color us shocked because we thought the Hyundai Santa Cruz to come out the gate swinging a bit harder. It’s the only true Ford Maverick competitor with many advantages to consider. But something is preventing the Hyundai Santa Cruz from selling as well as expected. 

How many Hyundai Santa Cruz sales are there? 

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz has a daul clutch transmission
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz got off with a slow start by only selling 80 units during its July debut. But that wasn’t due to a lack of demand. People do want this new tiny truck. However, production took a little time to ramp up. 

By the end of 2021, Hyundai moved 3,000 units. From 2022 to 2023, the Santa Cruz maintained this pace with an average of 3,000 sales per month. It peaked in June 2022, with 3,500 sales, and similar figures have taken place in 2023. 

It can move about 10,000 to 12,000 models per quarter. The Ford Maverick experienced quarters with over 20,000 sales and has moved about double the amount of tiny trucks. 

On Hyundai lots, you can see Santa Cruz models sitting pretty, but Maverick models are scarce at Ford dealerships because they’re sold out. 

What engines are in the Santa Cruz? 

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz starts with a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. That’s more standard power than the Toyota Tacoma has to offer, and it’s paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. 

You can upgrade to the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine for 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque, which is exciting. This unit is paired with a dual-clutch transmission, which has advantages for a more athletic performance. It’s great for daily driving and engaging rides.

However, the dual-clutch setup hasn’t been the best for off-roading. It feels a little sloppy and confused while off-roading and towing. The eight-speed automatic transmission is noticeably smoother, but it can’t do as much.

The majority of Santa Cruz models found on lots either have the dual-clutch transmission or front-wheel drive. AWD is another important option for truck stuff. 

Also, the Hyundai Santa Cruz doesn’t have a hybrid engine. People are looking for a better fuel economy with smaller trucks. The Santa Cruz is basically a Hyundai Tucson with a truck bed, so it’s confusing for it to not have the hybrid setup. 

The Tucson Hybrid has a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s paired with an electric motor and a battery to crank out 226 hp. 

Is the Santa Cruz a truck?

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a sport adventure vehicle
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

Technically, the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz is an adventure vehicle. Calling it a truck might get more people on board, and it could also use some rugged upgrades. It has 8.6 inches of ground clearance, which is fine but not exactly exciting. 

The Santa Cruz has attractive wheel designs, but it could use beefier tires. The tires are designed for street use and to enhance fuel economy. Tires with more grip could make a difference. 

An off-roading package with skid plates, more driving modes, tow hooks, and trail cameras could generate more interest. But the Santa Cruz is off to a nice start with AWD lock and a Snow mode. 

The 2023 Santa Cruz is an excellent truck to consider, but it could be struggling to fit into the right categories. It needs to be a little more rugged for adventuring, and the dual-clutch transmission interferes with towing and off-roading confidence.