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What the truck is going on with the Hyundai Santa Cruz? Is it just a Hyundai Tucson with a truck bed, or do the differences go much deeper than that? We know that the Ford Escape and Ford Maverick are closely related, so let’s compare the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz and the 2023 Hyundai Tucson to assess the situation. 

How are 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz and 2023 Hyundai Tucson different? 

Front angle view of blue 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz, highlighting affordable pickup truck alternatives costing under $28,000
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

First, we have one clear difference to point out between the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz and the 2023 Hyundai Tucson. The Santa Cruz is a sport adventure vehicle, not a truck, and the Tucson is an SUV. 

That’s slightly confusing because the Santa Cruz has a truck bed, but it isn’t supposed to be called a truck. 

According to Auto Blog, the Santa Cruz is over a foot longer than the Tucson. But both options ride on the same platform with the same underpinnings. The truck bed cuts into the cab of the Santa Cruz, meaning the Tucson offers more passenger space. 

The Tucson has 38.7 cubic feet of cargo space in the rear with up to 80.3 cubes total. The Santa Cruz provides 27 cubic feet of volume in the bed, with a lockable storage cubby in the floor. 

The passenger volume in the Tucson is 108.2 cubic feet, and the Santa Cruz provides 101.8 cubic feet of passenger space. 

Does the Tucson or Santa Cruz have more power? 

The 2023 Hyundai Tucson and 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz have the same base engine. It’s a 2.5-liter four-cylinder unit that makes 187 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque in the Tucson. It’s tuned to crank out 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque in the Santa Cruz. 

Also, the Santa Cruz offers a 2.5-liter inline-four turbo engine with 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 6.0 seconds. 

The Tucson Hybrid uses a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor and provides 227 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. 

The Tucson PHEV uses the same engine with an electric motor and battery pack to generate 261 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. This setup allows the Tucson to reach 60 mph in about 7.1 seconds. 

When properly equipped, the Santa Cruz can tow up to 5,000 lbs and carry a payload of up to 1,906 lbs. The Tucson can tow up to 2,000 lbs and carry a payload of up to 1,304 lbs. 

Does the Tucson or Santa Cruz have better features? 

2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT is value packed
2022 Hyundai Tucson XRT | Allison Barfield, MotorBiscuit

You can get started in the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz for $25,450, and the top-spec 2.5T Limited trim brings the price up to $40,320. The 2023 Hyundai Tucson begins at about $26,450, and the highest gas-powered trim starts at $35,750. 

Both options offer a 10.3-inch infotainment screen, wireless device charging, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can upgrade to an eight-speaker Bose audio system. Ventilated front seats and a 360-degree surround-view camera system are available too. 

The Tucson and Santa Cruz are similar in terms of comfort and tech. But the Tucson has more passenger and cargo space, while the Santa Cruz offers more power for towing and utility. Also, the Tucson may save a little more fuel, but the Santa Cruz is slightly sportier.

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