[PHOTOS] The Wait Is Over — Here’s the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
Splitting the difference between the looks and usefulness of a compact pickup and the passenger-friendly nature of a small SUV, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has arrived.
A Hyundai Favorite: Need a sporty, family-friendly SUV? Consider the 2021 Santa Fe
Referred to as a Sport Adventure Vehicle by Hyundai, the Santa Cruz occupies a unique position in the market. Its open bed places it firmly in the truck segment, but it’s quite a bit smaller than any other pickup currently on sale in the United States. It’s also sportier, more maneuverable, and more SUV-like on the inside than your typical truck. The Santa Cruz will be built in Alabama — and thus won’t be subject to the chicken tax that deters most foreign automakers from selling small pickups in the U.S.
Santa Cruz strikes a balance
Hyundai’s goal with the Santa Cruz is balance. On the one hand, it’s easy to drive in the city, promises solid fuel efficiency, and provides plenty of space to lock away cargo. On the other hand, it’s versatile enough to take off-road for the weekend, delivers strong towing capabilities, and boasts an open cargo box. And while its looks are reasonably rugged, it’s not designed to intimidate like many larger trucks.
Hyundai touts the Santa Cruz’s fun driving dynamics, enabled by a tuned chassis and available HTRAC all-wheel drive with active torque control. These features help the Santa Cruz corner with precision and switch easily between sporty driving on the road and more rugged all-terrain performance. Two engine options are available. The standard 2.5-liter delivers about 180 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque, along with 3,500 pounds of towing capability. The available 2.5-liter turbo can tow up to 5,000 pounds, and it delivers over 275 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.
Hyundai’s Newest SUV: Efficiency, high value, and tech make the 2021 Venue a great buy
The Santa Cruz shows off exterior dimensions that are smaller than any U.S. truck competitor — although it makes the most of that size. Its unibody design incorporates a 48-inch bed with a lockable storage compartment underneath, plus a locking tonneau cover to keep items in the bed safe. Key design features include a cascading grille with hidden light signatures, a raked silhouette, and rear T-shaped light signatures above a stamped tailgate. Available 18-inch and 20-inch wheels complete the vehicle’s tough yet sporty first impression.
With room for five, the interior of the Santa Cruz prioritizes spaciousness and comfort. The front seats are arranged in what Hyundai calls a “dual-cockpit” configuration, using a raised center console to surround each passenger. An available 10-inch center display and 10-inch digital instrument cluster create a high-tech feel. As a reminder that this is still a truck, there’s also an especially large gear shifter. In the second row, the seats flip up to reveal a hidden storage area.
Tech to expect
The Santa Cruz comes fully stocked with the usual Hyundai SmartSense safety features, like standard Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, and Driver Attention Warning. Options include a Surround View Monitor, Blind-spot View Monitor, and Highway Drive Assist. For infotainment, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Blue Link connected services, and Bose premium audio are available. The Santa Cruz also offers Qi wireless charging and shareable Digital Key tech.
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz will go into production in June, and it’s expected to go on sale later this summer.
A longtime editor/writer and recently transplanted Hoosier, Caleb Cook lives in Xenia, Ohio. His favorite activities are reading and listening to music, although he occasionally emerges from the heap of books and vinyl records in his basement to stand blinking in the sunlight. Once fully acclimated to the outside world again, he can be observed hanging out with his wife, attempting a new recipe in the kitchen, attending movies, walking the dog, or wandering into a local brewery to inquire about what’s on tap. See more articles by Caleb.