2022

Hyundai Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz combines the attributes of a small SUV and a pickup truck into one vehicle. Similar in concept to the larger Honda Ridgeline, the Tucson-based Santa Cruz could be perfect for the buyer who wants a stylish mode of transport with car-like ride, handling, and maneuverability but who also occasionally needs an open bed to avoid getting their SUV’s cargo area dirty.
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Hyundai Santa Cruz Road Test

The Santa Cruz combines the attributes of a small SUV and a pickup truck into one vehicle. Similar in concept to the larger Honda Ridgeline, the Tucson-based Santa Cruz could be perfect for the buyer who wants a stylish mode of transport with car-like ride, handling, and maneuverability but who also occasionally needs an open bed to avoid getting their SUV’s cargo area dirty.

At just over four-feet long, the Santa Cruz’s bed is smaller than that of any other pickup, including the Ford Maverick and Ridgeline. As such, it isn’t well suited to carrying bicycles or any number of common recreational toys. But the Santa Cruz—which Hyundai markets as a “Sport Adventure Vehicle”—is perfect for transporting grubby garden supplies, grills and coolers for tailgating, or carrying wet gear back from the lake when towing a small boat.

With 281 horsepower on tap, the optional 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes the Santa Cruz SEL Premium we tested feel zippy, with especially strong low-to-midrange grunt. It sprinted from 0 to 60 mph in a pretty quick 6.6 seconds. There is some occasional low-speed clunkiness from the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, but shifts are smooth and timely. It managed 24 mpg overall on regular fuel in our testing, which is significantly better than the 20 mpg overall the Ranger and Ridgeline achieve. The base engine is a rather strained 191-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder mated to a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission. The SE and SEL are available with either front- or all-wheel drive, while the SEL Premium and Limited come with the turbo engine combined with all-wheel drive.

Best Version to Get
We think the turbo engine—which comes standard on the third-tier SEL Premium, along with all-wheel drive—is more suited to the Santa Cruz because it gives the little pickup an effortless power delivery compared to the standard non-turbo powerplant, not to mention greater towing capacity. Opting for...
Road Test Scores by Trim
crew cab SEL Premium 4-cyl 8-speed Sequential
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