If you're ready for something a little different when it comes to compact pickup trucks, look no further than the Hyundai Santa Cruz. Fairly new on the scene, it's garnering its share of attention on the road with its unique urban yet adventuresome design. Hyundai officially dubs it the Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle, but to the rest of the us, it's a small pickup. Both versatile and upscale, my top-of-the-line Limited review vehicle sits above the SE, SEL, and SEL Premium trims.
Large, 20-inch multi-faceted, triangular designed alloy wheels are, to me, the most striking aspect of my Hampton Gray Limited model, with its unique bi-LED front lighting signature not far behind. The hidden lighting signature is only visible within the grille when it's illuminated. The front also features premium parametric jewel design LED daytime running lights that give it a bold, sporty look.
The Limited trim's premium finish dark chrome cascading grille and tailgate handle add polish. In back, horizontal "T" tail lamps feature LEDs. Another notable feature: integrated rear bumper corner steps.
The truck bed itself warrants special attention. While technically a short bed, it's long on functional features that make it versatile and utility friendly. An available retractable tonneau is easy to open and slide back and forth as show below:
The sheet molded composite bed is equipped with LED bed lighting, heavy duty cargo D-rings, a Dual C Channel adjustable trail rack and cleat system, and an 115-V A/C power outlet.
There are storage options, too; a lockable under bed storage compartment, as well as sidewall storage cubby holes. You can open the tailgate remotely via the key fob.
My model features the top-of-the-line 281-horsepower 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 311 pound-feet of torque. It's paired to a smooth-shifting 8-speed dual clutch transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters. My test vehicle is equipped with available all-wheel drive with Normal, Sport, Smart and Snow drive modes. It's also equipped with soft-leveling suspension.
The Santa Cruz Limited stands out with its upscale interior. It's designed to feel more like the interior of an SUV than a pickup and has a mix of soft-touch materials, glossy black trim and quality hardware.
The Limited model features leather-trimmed, slightly bolstered comfortable seats, an 8-way power driver's seat, and heated and ventilated front seats. Its leather-wrapped, heated, steering wheel and leather-wrapped gear shift knob add to its premium look.
The tech-forward cabin features two wonderful 10.25-inch display screens. One for the bright, colorful digital tachometer and the other, a multimedia touchscreen. It looks quite impressive integrated into the center stack. The touchscreen is responsive with great graphics and terrific map quality. It also houses a great, high-resolution, back-up camera and available surround view monitor. Multimedia features include non-wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, HD Radio, Bluetooth, Quiet Mode and Valet Mode.
Other Limited standard features include full capacitive touch dual automatic climate control, a wireless charger, Bose sound system, rain-sensing wipers, remote engine start and ambient interior lighting. Connectivity wise, you get four USB ports split between the front and rear seat passengers.
The second-row is a comfortable place to be, but it looses some head room due to stadium seating. The rear seats sit a bit too high in my opinion impacting my visibility a bit through the slim rear window. A digital rearview mirror would definitely come in handy. The rear window has a sliding glass window with a defroster.
Hyundai gets creative on storage space in the Santa Cruz. Flip up the 60/40 split rear seats and you'll find hidden storage areas underneath including a storage area designed for the car jack.
Ride and Drive
The unibody Santa Cruz rides and drives like a car-like SUV, not a truck and that's by design. I have to say it feels lighter than its 4,100+ pounds. It has impressive acceleration and handles speed bumps well. Sport mode gives it the most engaging, dynamic ride. It's a comfortable ride on city and highway roads as well as a fairly quiet one. It's compact size makes it easier to maneuver than long-bed trucks.
Hyundai safety and driver assistance technology is terrific. The 2022 Santa Cruz offers Hyundai’s great SmartSense Safety suite that includes Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist w/Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Leading Vehicle Departure Alert ( a great feature), Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Following Assist, Rear Occupant Alert and Driver Attention Warning. The Limited also comes with Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assistance, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, Blind View Monitor, Safe Exit Warning, Navigation based Smart Cruise Control with curve control and Highway Driving Assist (which is a fantastic near autonomous advanced driving system designed for highways, but remember to keep your hands on the wheel.)
The only option on my test vehicle is its carpeted floor mats ($195). As equipped this model MSRP's for $41,100, a great value considering its upscale interior, technology and advanced driver assistance system. The Hyundai Santa Cruz is a great addition to the road.
- What I liked most: Technology, upscale interior and multi-function truck bed.
- What I would change: Lower the second-row seat height for visibility purposes and/ or add a digital rearview mirror.
- MSRP: Base price $39,720. As equipped $41,100.
- Fuel Economy: 19 city/27 highway/22 combined.
- Official Color: Hampton Gray.
- Odometer reading when tested: 9,758 miles.
- Weight: 4,123 pounds w/AWD.
- Payload; 1,609 pounds w/AWD.
- Spare Tire: Temporary compact spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 195.7" long/ 75" wide/ 66.7" high w/roof rails.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 17.7 gallons with filler on driver’s side.
- Towing Capacity: 5,000 pounds w/AWD.
- 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited: An exciting and unique entry to the compact pickup segment, combining a car-like ride with an open truck bed full of possibilities.
- Warranty: 5-year 60,000 mile New Vehicle Warranty; 10-year 100,000 powertrain, 7-year unlimited mile anti-perforation warranty; 3-year complimentary maintenance
- Final Assembly Location: Montgomery, Alabama.
- Manufacturer’s website: Hyundai
Check out Car Pro Show host Jerry Reynolds' review of the Santa Cruz below: