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Hyundai Santa Cruz Named Best Truck of 2021 by NWAPA

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Front view of 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz driving downhill on off-road trail
Photo: Hyundai

Even though it just came out, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has already collected its first honor — an award for best pickup truck of the year from the Northwest Automotive Press Association.

Adventure Awaits: Meet the all-new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz won for its style, its versatility, and how well it performed on the press association’s extensive on-road and off-road test courses. Classified as a Sport Adventure Vehicle by Hyundai, the Santa Cruz is designed for drivers who want the comfort and flexibility of an SUV to go with the capability and ruggedness of a truck.

“We’re thrilled that our new Santa Cruz was recognized by the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Its bold styling coupled with secure open-bed flexibility meets the changing everyday needs of adventure-oriented buyers, while powerful engines and superb maneuverability ensure it is a pleasure to drive in urban or off-road environments,” said Ricky Lao, Hyundai Motor North America’s director of product planning.

As part of the 2021 awards assessment, NWAPA members put the Santa Cruz through a rigorous road-and-track course, forcing it to maneuver tight corners, navigate winding curves, and handle dramatic ascents and descents. This portion of the test pushed the Santa Cruz to show off how well it accelerates, stops, and handles in tough conditions.

Rear side view of 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz bed with bicycle hanging out
Photo: Hyundai

The Santa Cruz was also required to master a special off-road route like drivers might encounter in a national forest. This course featured dirt, ruts, and steep conditions, giving the Santa Cruz an opportunity to put its HTRAC all-wheel-drive system, stability and traction control technologies, and 360-degree Surround View Monitor to work.

Under the hood, the Santa Cruz offers two options: a 191-horsepower 2.5-liter engine or a 281-horsepower turbo. An independent front and rear suspension, Drive Mode Select, and available HTRAC AWD give the Santa Cruz nimbler driving dynamics than larger trucks.

In addition to its agile, powerful performance, the Santa Cruz boasts a 4-foot composite bed with a lockable storage compartment, adjustable rail-and-cleat organizers, and an available integrated tonneau cover. The five-seat interior features comfortable seats, smartphone connectivity, and an available 10.25-inch touch-screen navigation system.

Check out our coverage at The News Wheel to learn more about the Santa Cruz and other Hyundai vehicles.