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The Hyundai Santa Cruz and the GMC Canyon are two smaller-sized pickup trucks. The Santa Cruz competes in the compact pickup truck segment, whereas the Canyon competes in the midsize pickup truck segment.

Midsize trucks are generally larger than their compact counterparts. Compact pickup trucks also offer a more car-like driving experience and lack the 4WD capabilities that consumers can still get from the midsize segment.

Arguably, midsize pickup trucks like the GMC Canyon have more to offer consumers in terms of space, power, and performance. So, why is it that the compact Hyundai Santa Cruz has proven to be more popular among consumers? Here’s a look. 

A look at Santa Cruz vs. GMC Canyon year-to-date sales 

The most popular midsize pickup truck among consumers in the U.S. market is, hands down, the Toyota Tacoma, according to Ford Authority. During Q2 2023, Toyota sold 63,262 units of the Tacoma and made up 47% of the total market share. In comparison, the GMC Canyon only made up 5% of the market share, shelling just 6.708 units during Q2 2023. 

In both 2022 and 2023, the Canyon performed the worst in the segment compared to the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Jeep Gladiator, Chevrolet Colorado, and Ford Ranger. While the Santa Cruz wasn’t the top performer in its segment either, it still faired quite a bit better than the GMC Canyon in its year-to-date sales. 

The Ford Maverick was the best-selling compact pickup truck during Q2 2023, with 21,021 units sold. The Santa Cruz was still able to make up 34% of the total market share, with 10,743 units sold. Overall, the truck’s 20,050 YTD sales solidly trumped the Canyon’s YTD sales of 11,724 units. 

Being in the larger midsize pickup truck segment, the GMC Canyon would seemingly have more to offer compared to the compact Hyundai Santa Cruz. However, despite the size and performance advantages the Canyon has to offer, more consumers are flocking to Hyundai’s compact truck. 

According to Car and Driver, the 2023 GMC Canyon is offered in five trim levels. GMC starts the Canyon base trim, Elevation, at a starting MSRP of $36,900. The Elevation trim is equipped with rear-wheel drive, a 310 hp 2.7L Turbo engine, and can tow 7,700 lbs.  

In comparison, the Santa Cruz has a heck of a lot cheaper starting point but doesn’t offer the same level of power or performance capabilities. According to Car and Driver, the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz is offered in five trim levels, with the base trim being the SE. Hyundai starts the baseline SE trim at $25,700. The SE trim features front-wheel drive, a 191 hp 2.5L engine, and can tow 5,000 lbs. 

The reason that the Santa Cruz has proven more popular than the Canyon isn’t due to any type of performance issues or faults with the Canyon. Rather, the biggest reason Santa Cruz is outperforming the Canyon is that the two pickup trucks are simply attracting different consumer bases.

In addition, the Canyon has more competition in the midsize segment than the Santa Cruz does in the compact segment. With Toyota selling more than 60K units of the Tacoma last quarter and making nearly 50% of the market share, it’s certainly proven difficult for other models to break into the segment. 

Hyundai’s small truck is in competition with the Ford Ranger too

The compact Santa Cruz is currently only outperforming one midsize pickup truck. However, it looks like the Santa Cruz could soon prove to be more popular than another midsize pickup truck. 

According to Ford Authority, the Ford Ranger made up just 11% of the midsize pickup truck segment, with 12,618 units sold during Q2 2023. With the Hyundai Santa Cruz selling almost 11K units during the same quarter, it looks like the Ranger may just have some more competition coming from the Hyundai Santa Cruz in the upcoming quarters. 


2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz Shoppers Like 1 Trim More Than the Rest