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The world of pickup trucks is a competitive place. Manufacturers are constantly working to outdo each other in order to offer the best truck. And now, the small pickup market is getting fairly hot. You’ve got the Ford Maverick, Hyundai Santa Cruz, and a larger unibody truck known as the Honda Ridgeline. So, how do the 2023 Santa Cruz and 2023 Ridgeline compare?

Is the Hyundai Santa Cruz better than the Honda Ridgeline?

In terms of which truck is best, both the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Honda Ridgeline bring a lot to the table. They are based on SUVs, meaning that the ride can feel more compliant than a traditional body-on-frame pickup. 

Where the 2023 Santa Cruz excels is its powertrain options, the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder makes 190 horsepower and 180 pound-foot of torque. But for more power, you can add a turbo and get 275 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. This unlocks a 5,000-lb towing capacity. 

Each 2023 Honda Ridgeline comes equipped with a 3.5-liter V6, that makes 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque, so you can get more torque with Hyundai’s small truck. For a lot of folks, a naturally aspirated V6 engine might seem like the best choice. But the sales numbers for the Ridgeline do not bode well. It looks like people are willing to overlook Honda’s truck. 

Which can tow more?

Both of these pickup trucks can tow up to 5,000 lbs. And for the Santa Cruz’s size, that is fairly impressive. Especially considering that it is the brand’s first modern attempt at a truck in the United States. 

A Honda Ridgeline pickup truck drives with a dirt bike in its bed.
2023 Honda Ridgeline | Honda

The 2023 Santa Cruz might offer more payload capacity as well. According to AutoTrader, it can haul over 1,900 lbs. The 2023 Ridgeline is limited to less than 1,600 lbs. 

Another perk of the Hyundai Santa Cruz is its price. Much like the Ford Maverick, it can be a fairly affordable way to get a truck bed, depending on configuration. Base MSRP is under $25k, which makes it cheaper than the 2023 Honda Ridgeline. 

Does Hyundai or Honda make a better truck?

There’s no getting around the fact that the Hyundai Santa Cruz is a newcomer to the truck market. Because of that, the Ridgeline might offer more value in terms of proven longevity. Honda’s truck is known to be reliable, and it is practical enough for daily use. 

A 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz truck is driving on the road.
Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai

A turbocharged engine might have more torque than a naturally aspirated engine, plus they can perform better at higher altitudes. But that’s also another component to worry about failing. Hyundai has been dabbling in turbo four-cylinder engines for some time, so the brand is no stranger to this type of setup. 

At the end of the day, the best truck is the one that fits your budget and lifestyle. But the Hyundai Santa Cruz certainly makes a case for itself. Having driven this small truck myself, I find it comfortable in the city while still feeling like it could handle a camping trip.

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