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Compact pickup trucks are back. A new category of trucks emerges with an unlikely pair. The Hyundai Santa Cruz is the first foray into this world for the Korean brand, while the Ford Maverick comes from a brand that’s been making trucks for more than a century. These two tiny trucks harken back to when compact trucks ruled the roads. These two go head to head in a modern-day battle.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz2022 Ford Maverick
Price Range$23,990 to $39,720$19,995 to $37,000
Engine Options2.5-liter four-cylinder/2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder2.5-liter Atkinson four-cylinder + 94-kW battery pack/2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower 191 horsepower/281 horsepower191 horsepower/250 horsepower
Torque181 lb.-ft./311 lb.-ft.155 lb.-ft./277 lb.-ft.
Transmission8-speed automatic/8-speed dual-clutch automaticElectronic CVT/8-speed automatic
MPG Rating21/27 AWD, 21/26 FWD | 19/27 AWD42/33 (FWD only) | 23/30 FWD, 22/29 AWD
IIHS Safety RatingTop Safety PickN/A
NHTSA Safety RatingN/AFive Stars
Data Source: Kelley Blue Book

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz sets the bar high

A blue Hyundai Santa Cruz is in the forest.
A blue Hyundai Santa Cruz is in the forest | Hyundai

The class may only have two competitors, but the one with the most power is not what you would expect. The Hyundai model is more powerful than the Ford, but it’s also more expensive. According to MotorTrend, the Santa Cruz is decidedly quick off the line, with maximum torque reached at 1,700 rpm with the more powerful engine. All models have a crew cab layout with a four-foot bed. This gives you room for other passengers and a nice place for your cargo.

U.S. News and World Report ranked the compact trucks with the midsize models, which doesn’t seem fair. The Santa Cruz found a spot just below the Maverick in their rankings.


  • Ride and handling
  • Fuel mileage
  • High-end interior
  • Excellent standard features list


  • Low-powered base engine
  • Small bed

Tons of choices for your compact truck

If you want to drive the Hyundai Santa Cruz, you’ll find five trims offered for this little truck. These trims are SE, SEL, SEL Activity, SEL Premium, and Limited. The top two trims use the turbocharged engine that provides more power to your drive. Every model of this truck has a unibody construction derived from the Hyundai Tucson. This build gives you a smooth-driving, capable compact truck you can use every day.

The 2022 Ford Maverick is highly competitive

Couple loading a blue Ford Maverick with furniture
Blue 2022 Ford Maverick | Ford

Small but capable, the Maverick is an impressive little truck, especially when you consider what you get for the price. This truck is also only offered in a crew cab layout with a four-foot bed, but that is not all you get. You’ll find the Ford Integrated Tether System, which allows you to create 3D-printed accessories for the storage areas in the cabin. The Flexbed system in the rear shows you how to configure the bed for maximum usefulness.

There’s a vast difference in the powertrains for the Ford Maverick, which could be a sticking point for some customers. The Maverick is rated slightly higher by U.S. News and World Report. This rating shows us:


  • Affordable starting price
  • Punchy, efficient engines
  • SUV-like ride and handling
  • Stylish cabin


  • Small bed
  • Low towing capacity

The Ford trio of trims is here for you

2022 Ford Maverick and 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruze posed
2022 Ford Maverick vs 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz | AutoGuide

Typical of Ford, you’ll find three trims you’re familiar with for the Maverick. These trims are XL, XLT, and Lariat. Of course, there are several great ways to upgrade this truck, including an FX4 package and a 4K Tow Package that can give you more of what you want for the drive.

Which compact pickup truck should you drive?

If you’re looking for a small truck that can tow the most, the Hyundai Santa Cruz is the truck for you. This Hyundai can pull up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped. The most the Ford Maverick can handle is 4,000 pounds. On the other hand, if you’re looking for the most versatile little truck offered, the Maverick with its FITS package and Flexbed has the Santa Cruz beat.

Next, check out the best SUVs for great summer fuel mileage, or see the full review of the Ford Maverick in the video below:

This article was updated on 7/27/2022.


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