In recent years, truck buyers have had the option of choosing between two main categories: midrange vehicles and full-size trucks. However, starting with the 2022 model year, there will be a third option: tiny trucks. The Hyundai Santa Cruz 2022 is one of two new pioneers for its class. The new Santa Cruz is worth considering if you don't need the full-fledged capacity and price of a midsize or full-size vehicle. It looks more like a 20-year-old Subaru Baja, but with its open bed and seating for five, it competes with light pickup trucks like the Ford Maverick and adventure-oriented crossovers like the Subaru Outback. Despite sharing a base with the Hyundai Tucson compact crossover, the new Hyundai Santa Cruz 2022 bridges the gap between the Maverick and the Outback. The 2022 Hyundai Tucson's front end has a stepped grille with integrated daytime running lights. Tasteful and textured black cladding runs over the rockers and optional 20-inch wheels to bumpers with integrated bed steps on the squat shape. The Hyundai Santa Cruz is a pickup truck that will debut in 2022. It's not a full-size tow rig because of its reduced dimensions and unibody construction. Consider the first Hyundai pickup as a competitor to the similarly unibody Honda Ridgeline, which also has a one-size-fits-all crew cab, short-bed body design. With its unique visage and creased Sheetmetal, the Santa Cruz stands out more than the Honda–or any other mid-size vehicle, for that matter. Its inside is also more upscale than its competitors, however certain versions lack tactile controls, which is a disappointment. Its base four-cylinder engine is similarly unappealing, but the more powerful turbo option is too expensive. Nonetheless, the 2022 Santa Cruz is a more practical take on the classic crossover model, and the open box on its buttocks makes it a pickup truck.
The Santa Cruz is a remedy for the ubiquitous crossover, with a more rugged Tucson face and a four-door dad bod with a bed. Although the Sage Gray and Blue Stone paint colors are so excellent for this car that they may win another point, the outside earns it two points to a 7. The 2022 Santa Cruz is much more than a foot longer than the Tucson, but 4.0 inches shorter and 2.0 inches shorter than the Ford Maverick at 195.7 inches long. The 2022 Hyundai Tucson's front end has a stepped grille with integrated daytime running lights. The front bumper is protected by a skid plate.
The squat shape is accented by textured black cladding that runs over the rockers and around the wheel arches, which are fitted with standard 18-inch alloy wheels. The rear bumper has arrowhead-shaped motifs on the cladding and bumpers, as well as integrated corner bed steps. Easter eggs, such as those seen on the taillights, are used throughout the design to emphasize the brand's American-made attitude.
The Santa Cruz's adaptable bed and flip-up rear seats get a point on our scale for cargo space, and substantial rear leg room with the seats down earns another point to a 7 for comfort and quality.
The utilitarian aspect of the basic model is shown by cloth seat covers with 6-way manual adjustments. Another reason we'd pass on it in favor of the SEL, which includes an 8-way power driver's seat with lumbar support. The SEL has heated front seats, but even the top Limited grade, which is the only model with leather seats at launch, lacks the power treatment for the front passenger. In that regard, the Tucson's seats offer more creature pleasures, albeit the seat bottoms in both cases might stretch a little more for better thigh support.
The bed is more akin to a current Subaru Baja than a typical compact truck bed. The lower section is approximately four inches longer than the upper part, which is 48.4 inches long, yet it is a few of inches shorter than the Ford Maverick. The tailgate, however, grows to about three inches longer than the Maverick when it is folded down, either by the fob or a button in the gate handle. It's big enough for 4x8 plywood sheets to lie in the wheel wells. With the front wheels hanging over the gate, Hyundai claims you can store four 29-inch mountain bikes in the back, and the gate, like the Maverick, can be adjusted between vertical and horizontal positions for greater versatility.
Without the jitters of a body-on-frame pickup, the 2022 Santa Cruz rides quiet and comfortable like a crossover. It gets a 6 for its remarkable handling and quiet crossover-like ride for a car built on a crossover. If you only consider the 2.5-liter turbo-4 engine, you'll be disappointed. For slick or hilly circumstances, the all-wheel-drive system has a central locking differential that equally distributes torque between the front and rear axles. Without the locker, the system balances torque between the axles automatically based on circumstances and drive modes. Sport mode provides up to 50% of torque to the rear wheels, which is then routed to the wheel with the highest grip via brake-based torque vectoring. When cruising, the majority of the torque is directed to the front wheels, which is where it is most effective. There are two main powerplant options available for the Santa Cruz. This entry-level engine, though, is best avoided based on the sluggish acceleration it gave in the Tucson crossover we examined. The engine has been updated to a turbocharged 2.5-liter four with 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The Santa Cruz is considerably better suited to its increased power and punchier reflexes. Both engines are paired with eight-speed automatic transmissions, however the turbo option is paired with a dual-clutch transmission. The vehicle's smooth ride and quick handling were on display in the top-of-the-line Limited variant we rode.
Although the NHTSA hasn't finished its crash testing, the IIHS has given the Santa Cruz a Top Safety Pick when fitted with the LED projector lights featured on the top grades. The standard automated emergency braking system, rated "Superior" by the IIHS, also receives a point on our scale. It gets an extra point for having good safety features, bringing the total to 8. If the NHTSA testing confirms the IIHS' top scores in all six crash tests, it might gain another point.
Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and bicycle recognition, as well as active lane control, come standard on every Santa Cruz. Adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors, for example, can help drivers see beyond the short sightlines in the back. Blind-spot cameras and a surround-view video system can assist you in finding your bearings on the trail or navigating that parallel parking place.