Following its highly-awarded inaugural year in the budding compact pickup truck segment, the Hyundai Santa Cruz remains a solid option. It is a near-perfect buy for those looking for practicality. In addition, it’s a great choice if you don’t need the capability or price tag of a bigger truck. Midsize or full-size pickups boast a higher cost and features that most of us just don’t need for daily driving.
Although the 2023 model is largely a carry-over model from the previous year, per Hyundai, there are a few changes. Potential buyers will see a price increase for the base model. Furthermore, there’s a new trim level, and a cheaper option to get the turbocharged engine.
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz’s exciting looks
Unlike most competitors in the midsize pickup truck market, the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz will continue to use the redesigned unibody construction. The Hyundai pickup truck is based on the same platform as the Tucson crossover SUV. Therefore, the Santa Cruz is still likely to be a much more comfortable cruiser and offer more nimble cornering than others in the segment. Typically, body-on-frame architecture like the Ford Ranger or Chevrolet Colorado decreases on-road cockpit comfort.
The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz’s edgy, off-road-ready presence will still feature segmented headlights. Additionally, it has sharp body lines and similar Tucson styling cues. Yet, the Sport Adventure Vehicle (SAV), as Hyundai calls it, distinguishes itself through its rakish attributes, from the front bumper and grill to the truck bed and distinctive tail lines topped by a retractable tonneau cover. All of its features combine to give the Santa Cruz a competitive edge as a true compact pickup truck.
Santa Cruz’s new “Night” trim package
The biggest news for the Santa Cruz is the addition of a bullish, blacked-out version of the compact pickup truck. The Night package starts at $37,105. It’s now the cheapest version of the Santa Cruz with the optional 281-hp turbocharged engine.
The trim package also includes small colored tweaks to the traditional chromed grille and stylistic touches. Additionally, it adds black 20-inch wheels, black side-view mirror caps, door handles, and side steps. Since the Night trim package comes with the more powerful engine, AWD is included.
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz performance and safety
The two powertrain options found in the last model will be back for 2023 with no critical updates. The Santa Cruz is offered to buyers with either:
- 2.5-liter GDI-MPI I-4 with 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC technology and front-wheel or optional all-wheel drive
- 2.5-liter Turbocharged GDI-MPI I-4 with 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque combined with an eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission with SHIFTRONIC technology and all-wheel drive
Max towing capacity is lower than midsize pickup trucks, but the 2023 Santa Cruz can still manage between 3,500 to 5,000 pounds depending on the drivetrain configuration. Although Hyundai doesn’t have an option for a factory-installed trailer brake controller, aftermarket solutions are available.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not released a safety assessment for the 2023 Santa Cruz. Still, last year’s model was a Top Safety Pick among small, crew cab pickup trucks, featuring superior rating for their front collision prevention systems.
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz trim levels
The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz is set to continue to use its unique styling along with clever practicality and reasonable price to sway buyers away from larger pickup trucks. Even though it’s a carry-over model, Car and Driver reports that prices have risen across the four trim options.
- SE—up $1,010 to $26,085—features the base engine with front-wheel drive, an eight-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a six-speaker sound system, lane-keeping assist, and forward collision mitigation. New for the SE is Blind-Spot Collision-Assist (BCA), and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA).
- SEL—up $150 to $29,085—includes heated mirrors, a Smart Proximity Key, lockable cargo bed storage, wireless smartphone charging functions, a power-assisted driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar, heated front seats, BCA, and RCCA. The SEL trim is also available with Hyundai’s “Activity package,” giving buyers a cargo bed tonneau cover, sunroof, roof rails, sliding rear window, in-bed 150-volt outlet, and LED bed lighting, Hyundai says.
- SEL Premium—up $1,220 to $37,425—incorporates the powerful turbocharged engine, HTRAC all-wheel-drive system, dual-zone climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shift, the Activity package, and a MyHyundai digital key.
- Limited—up $150 to $41,615— will have, in addition to the upgrades on other trim levels, all-around leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, 10.25-inch infotainment system with navigation, Bose premium audio, adaptive cruise control, and 360-degree Surround View Monitor (SVM) system.