The Hyundai Santa Cruz Is a Winner, Except for This One Flaw

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz is an award-winning truck, a hot selling truck, and an efficient one. It’s also the most efficient and least expensive pickups you can buy new. But, and you knew there was a but coming, it has one flaw that may rule it out for many truck buyers. What is the Santa Cruz’s one flaw?

The Santa Cruz has the shortest bed of any new truck

The Hyundai Santa Cruz has the smallest pickup bed of any new truck you can buy,
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

Trucks are for hauling stuff, and with a bed that’s too short you can’t haul a lot. The Santa Cruz has the shortest bed of any truck you can buy new. Interestingly, Hyundai publishes two different figures for its bed length, one for the top, with the tailgate closed, and one from the floor, with the gate closed. From the top, it measures 48.4 inches, from the bed floor it measures 52.1 inches. The back of the cab has a slope that makes it longer on the bottom, and the factory tonneau eats some space, too.

With a bed that short, you can’t haul much without leaving the tailgate down for all that stuff to slide out. Most motorcycles, for example, won’t fit in the bed, nor will a sheet of plywood without straps. The Ford Maverick has a short bed, too, but its bed is four inches longer. The Nissan Frontier has a bed length of 59 inches, or five-foot 11-inches. However, you can order a long-bed version that has a 73.3 inch, or 7.1-foot bed, with the King Cab (two-door) version.  

Even the Hummer EV truck, which is barely a truck, has a five-foot, or 60-inch bed. The shortest bed in recent memory, though, was the old Ford Explorer Sport’s bed which was just 48 inches long.

Is the Hyundai Santa Cruz bed useful?

The Santa Cruz bed may be small, but it was designed for small-truck practicality. It’s a molded plastic bed that comes with anchor points and rails with cleats. Conveniently, it also comes with an integrated tonneau cover and can hold a total of 1,400 pounds, which is not too far off many full-sized truck’s payload capacities. That integrated tonneau, too, keeps prying eyes away from what could be, or not be, hidden beneath it.

Cleverly, like the similarly car-based Honda Ridgeline truck, the Santa Cruz’s bed has a waterproof lockable trunk in the bed. Unlike the Honda, though, which has a side-hinged tailgate, you have to reach over the gate to reach the Santa Cruz’s trunk. While it’s not a huge space, it can handle some grocery bags. It also has a drain plug so, if you wanted, you could fill it with ice.

Is the Hyundai Santa Cruz a real truck?

2023 Hyundai Rebelle Rally Santa Cruz truck
2023 Rebelle Rally Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai
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Is the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Truck Good as a Car?

Is the 2023 Santa Cruz a “real” truck? Well, it manages to do a lot of the truck stuff that most of us need. It can hold up to 1,400 pounds in its bed, it can tow up to 5,000 pounds, and it can be ordered in an all-wheel drive version. Sure, it doesn’t offer a body-on frame design that can tow up to 12,000 pounds or hold 8,000 pounds in the bed, but that makes it safer. But how often do those of us with trucks really need that much capability?

For 2023, look out for the new all-black Night Edition of the Santa Cruz. For most of the truck stuff we need to do, a Santa Cruz may be a good fit, even if its bed is on the short side.