Is It Worth It to Step Up to the Santa Cruz Turbo?

The Hyundai Santa Cruz comes in two flavors, and like your salsa, they appeal to those who like mild or hot. The base version makes 191 horsepower, but you can step up to the hot turbocharged four-cylinder and get a 281-horsepower version. That extra turbo, though, will add at least $7,000 to the base price of your 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz. So, it begs the question, is the turbo worth it in a Hyundai Santa Cruz?

Is the turbo worth it in the Hyundai Santa Cruz?

2023 Night Edition Hyundai Santa Cruz
2023 Santa Cruz Night Edition | Santa Cruz

The base version of the 2.5L 2023 Santa Cruz gets a 191-horsepower four-cylinder, while the 2.5T version gets a 281-horsepower version with a turbo. However, the base engine only makes 181 lb.-ft of torque, while the turbo makes an impressive 311 lb.-ft, which helps with around-town driving and, crucially, towing and hauling. The base engine gets 22 MPG in town and 26 mpg highway, while you pay a penalty for the turbo and it gets 19 mpg in town but 27 mpg on the highway.

The turbo motor is recommended if you want to do more truck stuff. Car and Driver calls the base engine “sluggish” and “underpowered,” and you’d definitely feel the weight of a trailer with that engine. In terms of acceleration, the base engine can get the truck to 60 miles per hour in about 8.8 seconds, while the turbo drops that to around 6.0. A lot of that, though, is due to the base truck’s traditional automatic, while the turbo gets the quick-shifting dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters. The turbo version can also tow 5,000 pounds, or 1,500 more than the base truck.

What’s new for 2023?

2023 Santa Cruz interior
2023 Santa Cruz Night interior | Hyundai

Since the Santa Cruz was an all-new truck for 2022, the wasn’t much need to refresh it. Hyundai did add a few little touches, however. It receives an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 10.35-inch touchscreen, and dynamic voice recognition on the higher-level trims, the SEL Premium and Limited. Also, the SEL Premium now gets navigation-based cruise control. The all-black Night trim is also available.

What’s the same in all Santa Cruz trucks?

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The Santa Cruz is based on the Tucson SUV, though Hyundai says the two don’t share any body panels. Regardless, like the Tucson, it drives like a car and it comes with several driver’s aids and even all-wheel drive in any trim. They all come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry, and Hyundai’s new fast touchscreen interface.

But, these are all trucks. 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. But it can tow 5,000 pounds (or 3,500 with the base engine), and carry a total weight of 1,700 pounds.

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.

Regardless, if you’re looking for a truck to haul and tow, the turbo is your engine. If not, the base 2.5L should be just fine.