Car Reviews

2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz Review: A different kind of pickup

Professionals: Enjoyable and refined to drive; high-class inside; nice tech; intelligent mattress options

Cons: Cramped again seat; excessive value; sluggish and inefficient base engine

After we first drove and reviewed the Hyundai Santa Cruz, it was the only option in a compact pickup truck section of precisely one. Not solely was it smaller than different vehicles, however it had a car-like unibody construction. Successfully, it’s a crossover truck. That made it lighter, extra agile and extra environment friendly by way of each gas consumption and inside area. It additionally made it much less strong for off-roading and towing (even when its floor clearance and 5,000-pound max are higher than the common crossover), whereas its diminutive measurement features a comparatively rinky-dink 4.3-foot mattress. There have been positively professionals and cons with the method, however it appeared like a usually agreeable components.

That’s nonetheless the case for the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz, however a giant, whopping factor has modified: it now has a competitor. The Ford Maverick is one other compact crossover pickup, that means of us will inevitably line up their specs and do some cross-shopping. What they’re certain to search out, although, are two very totally different autos past their fundamental measurement and car structure. The Santa Cruz has a stunning, tech-filled inside with a premium vibe and a cramped again seat. The Maverick is extra utilitarian in look, supplies and area. The Santa Cruz is shockingly enjoyable to drive with its potent turbocharged engine, whereas the Maverick wows with its 37-mpg hybrid base powertrain. The Santa Cruz affords a bunch of intelligent mattress options, whereas the Maverick has a bigger, extra typical mattress with out the gizmos. The Santa Cruz is daring, athletic and distinctive in look, whereas the Maverick has its personal boxy appeal.

In the long run, neither is healthier than the opposite. They’re simply totally different. It’s greatest to view the Santa Cruz as an alternative choice to outdoorsy compact crossover SUVs. Its open mattress continues to be far longer than an SUV’s cargo affords and clearly affords infinite top, whereas these intelligent mattress options preserve the kind of safety and all-weather safety supplied by an SUV. If there’s a important concern it’s the sluggish and inefficient base engine, together with the a lot stronger turbo engine being unavailable on cheaper trim ranges.  

Inside & Expertise   |   Passenger & Cargo House   |   Efficiency & Gas Financial system

What it is wish to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Ranges   |   Crash Rankings & Security Options

What’s new for 2023?

The Santa Cruz follows a preferred development by providing a blacked-out Night time trim degree pictured above. It builds off the SEL Exercise AWD trim by including the two.5-liter turbo engine commonplace plus darkish chrome grille, unique darkish entrance and rear decrease fascias, gloss black mirror caps and door handles, aspect steps, and 20-inch darkish alloy wheels. Elsewhere, the SEL Premium trim positive aspects the ten.25-inch touchscreen, voice instructions and adaptive cruise management with stop-and-go functionality and enter from the navigation system. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning at the moment are commonplace on all trims. Lastly, Atlas White and California Sand exchange Ice White and Mojave Sand, respectively. Oh thank goodness.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz interior

What are the Santa Cruz inside and in-car know-how like?

The Santa Cruz inside has a extra premium appear and feel than common for a compact crossover because of every part ahead of the B-pillar being shared with the spectacular Hyundai Tucson. This offers the Santa Cruz a big leg up on the Ford Maverick and justifies, at the very least to some extent, its larger value. Within the Restricted trim, the leather-based upholstery, extra-mile luxurious options like ventilated seats and heated steering wheel, widescreen infotainment system and fancy-looking capacitive contact controls step issues up even additional.

As for the tech, Hyundai’s infotainment methods, whether or not the usual 8-inch unit or the ten.25 widescreen one proven beneath, are a few of the best to make use of in the marketplace whereas being feature-packed and fashionable in look. We’re much less enamored with these capacitive controls. Although moderately responsive, it takes an excessive amount of focus to search out them together with your finger amidst the shiny black expanse. Such controls have at all times had this downside, have at all times obtained backlash from homeowners and have at all times been changed with typical knobs and buttons with the following era or sooner. We won’t see the Santa Cruz being any totally different.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

How massive is the Santa Cruz?

The reply to this actually depends upon what you are evaluating it to and which dimensions you are taking a look at. For a pickup, the Santa Cruz could be very small at 195.7 inches in size. Even the smallest midsize truck, the Nissan Frontier, is 210.2 inches lengthy in its smallest model and goes as much as 224.1. Even the Ford Maverick is 4 inches longer. Complete top variations are equally out of whack, however the Santa Cruz has loads of floor clearance (8.6 inches) and general width just like these midsize vehicles (and a couple of.4 inches wider than the Maverick). It’s additionally essential to notice that the Santa Cruz is greater than a foot longer than the mechanically comparable Hyundai Tucson, which is among the largest compact crossovers.

That measurement distinction with crossovers is the results of the Santa Cruz’s truck mattress, which is considerably longer than the cargo areas of most SUVs no matter section. On the flip aspect, although, it is the shortest pickup mattress at present in the marketplace measuring 4.3 toes. The Ford Maverick’s is a bit greater at 4.5 toes and extra typical in form. What it might lack in general capability, nevertheless, it counters with loads of intelligent options that purpose so as to add versatility and safety past the same old pickup expertise. You may learn our complete Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup mattress overview right here or watch our video about it beneath.

After we look inside, we flip issues round once more. The cabin can really be extra voluminous than the crew cabs of midsize pickups (particularly the Toyota Tacoma), with a again seat that is on the very least extra spacious and cozy. Typically it is higher on each fronts. Then once more, the again seat has significantly much less legroom than compact crossovers and its backrest angle is extra upright. We additionally discovered it to be a bit much less spacious and cozy (and fewer accommodating to a rear-facing youngster seat) than the Ford Maverick on this again seat overview.

What are the Santa Cruz gas economic system and efficiency specs?

The Santa Cruz SE and SEL come commonplace with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, which is a typical quantity for the bottom engine of a compact crossover. It’s paired with an eight-speed automated transmission and commonplace front-wheel drive, however all-wheel drive is obtainable as an possibility. EPA-estimated gas economic system is 22 mpg metropolis, 26 mpg freeway and 23 mpg mixed with FWD, which is way decrease than the 37-mpg Ford Maverick Hybrid. The bottom Santa Cruz engine returns 21/25/23 with AWD, which you’ll be able to’t get with the Maverick hybrid. Most towing capability with this engine is 3,500 kilos with trailer brakes and 1,650 with out.

The SEL Premium, Restricted and Santa Cruz Night time come commonplace with a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for 281 hp and 311 lb-ft. That is extra strong, particularly by way of torque, than what you will discover in midsize pickups. It blows away most compact crossovers in addition to the two.0-liter Maverick. All-wheel drive is commonplace and the transmission is an eight-speed dual-clutch automated handbook. Gas economic system is almost the identical because the naturally aspirated model at 19 mpg metropolis, 27 mpg freeway and 22 mpg mixed. Its most tow score is 5,000 kilos with trailer brakes (the identical 1,650 with out), which is 1,000 kilos greater than the Ford Maverick and far stronger than the everyday compact crossover SUV.

What is the Santa Cruz wish to drive?

The Santa Cruz is among the most responsive and agile compact crossovers … no matter what is going on on behind the C pillar. There may be completely nothing truck-like about it, which is probably a nasty factor if you happen to need a bouncy experience, tippy dealing with and sluggish steering. In any other case, it proves to be shockingly sharp and able to flicking a few twisting mountain highway. Nudge the drive mode toggle into Sport and the steering loses its preliminary little bit of off-center numbness in favor of simply the correct quantity of additional effort. The suspension, with its impartial multi-link setup on the rear, stays resolutely planted and composed. On the identical time, the experience is on the agency finish of the spectrum, however not in a truckish means. Extra in a Mazda CX-5 firm-but-well-damped means.

Then there’s the powertrain. Now we have not examined the 191-horsepower naturally aspirated 2.5-liter base engine, however our time with one thing comparable within the Tucson would point out it’s going to be unrefined and uninspired, even when it makes aggressive energy and torque. Now we have examined the two.5-liter turbocharged engine, which feels each bit as fast as its ample 281 hp and 311 lb-ft. We simply want you can get it on all trims, particularly given its gas economic system relative the bottom engine.

We additionally want Hyundai would provide a hybrid Santa Cruz. Apart from its chief competitor, the Ford Maverick, coming commonplace as a hybrid, the Santa Cruz’s mechanically associated Tucson sibling is obtainable in hybrid and plug-in hybrid fashions.

What different Hyundai Santa Cruz critiques can I learn?

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz First Drive Evaluate

Extra in-depth data might be discovered on this overview in regards to the Santa Cruz’s distinctive design and the engineering that went into it, in addition to our preliminary driving impressions. 


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Mattress Evaluate

We go deeper into the Santa Cruz’s many revolutionary mattress options, together with its lockable rolling tonneau cowl and under-bed storage. 


Hyundai Santa Cruz vs Ford Maverick Again Seat Evaluate

Evaluating the again seat area of the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick, together with for rear-facing youngster seats.

What’s the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz value?

Pricing begins at $26,745, together with the $1,295 vacation spot cost, for the bottom Santa Cruz SE trim degree with front-wheel drive. Including all-wheel drive is a $1,500 possibility for the SE and SEL. It comes commonplace on these trim ranges that come commonplace with the turbo engine.

Base engine trim ranges
SE: $26,745
SEL: $29,085

Turbo engine trim ranges
Night time: $37,105
SEL Premium: $38,645
Restricted: $41,615

Customary tools is appreciable, together with 18-inch alloy wheels, rear privateness glass, a composite mattress liner, three mattress storage compartments, a compact spare tire, stain and odor-resistant material upholstery, a handbook height-adjustable driver seat, a six-speaker sound system, two USB ports, and an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Key upgrades on the SEL = embrace proximity entry and push-button begin, heated entrance seats and an eight-way energy driver seat. The Exercise package deal ($3,270) provides plenty of fascinating extras that embrace the varied mattress upgrades (built-in tonneau cowl, a 115-volt outlet, LED lighting, utility rails) plus a sunroof, sliding rear window glass, wi-fi system charging and a ten.25-inch digital instrument panel. The brand new Night time trim principally takes an SEL with the Exercise package deal and provides the usual turbo engine plus a darkish chrome grille, unique darkish entrance and rear decrease fascias, gloss black mirror caps and door handles, aspect steps, and 20-inch darkish alloy wheels

The SEL Premium consists of the Exercise package deal together with the turbo engine and commonplace all-wheel drive, therefore its appreciable value soar from the SEL. The Restricted steps issues up firmly into luxurious territory with leather-based seating surfaces, ventilated entrance seats, Bose audio, capability inside controls and the ten.25-inch widescreen infotainment system you see right here in photos.

What are the Santa Cruz security scores and driver help options?

Each trim degree comes commonplace with ahead collision warning with automated braking and pedestrian detection, lane-keeping help, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning, and driver inattention warning. Hyundai’s “Freeway Driving Help” adaptive cruise management with stop-and-go functionality and lane-centering steering help is commonplace on the SEL Premium and Restricted.

The Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security named the Santa Cruz a Prime Security Choose for its best-possible crash take a look at efficiency and its top-rated frontal collision prevention methods. The bottom headlights on the SE and SEL trims have been rated “Poor,” nevertheless, stopping the Santa Cruz from getting the total Prime Security Choose+ award. The upgraded lights on the SEL Premium and Restricted obtained the best-possible “Good” score. 

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