Preview: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
One of the most exciting new vehicles coming to showrooms is something that may be somewhat familiar to you. It may look one thing, but it is not exactly what you think.
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz may look like a pickup truck. The company says otherwise. While they do acknowledge that consumers will call it a pickup truck, the actual “segment” Hyundai “created” is the Sports Adventure Vehicle.
Hyundai also calls this a CUV+. That stands for a crossover vehicle that adds more elements from other vehicle segments. In this case, it has taken a crossover and put an “open box” at the rear.
Confused? We had to find out for ourselves at a media event near Chicago where Hyundai supplied us with a fleet of new Santa Cruz Limited models with all-wheel drive for a short experiential “summer drive.”
The Alabama-assembled Santa Cruz was the first Hyundai to be developed for the North American market, according to the company. It fills a void in the utility market for a smaller truck-like vehicle. It is also made from a unibody platform it shares with the Hyundai Tucson. The result is some shared components, but not enough to call it a Tucson with an open bed.
Overall, the design is compelling. The front end is a nod to the Tucson, but the Santa Cruz has a different shape to it – a combination of both a round and flat surface, thanks to its three-dimensional, boldly-textured grille and “wing”-like driving lamps. As with the Tucson, the headlamps are off to the side midway down the front fascia.
The cab roofline does not follow pickup truck convention. It is sportier with a more angled C-pillar that leads to the open bed. This 52.1-inch-long bed is very useful for smaller items. A tonneau cover slides away to open it up for taller and bulkier cargo. There is also an underbed storage that can be used to hide items or to be filled up with a few beverages and ice to cool them down. You can drain the storage space through a drain plug.
Inside the Santa Cruz’s cab is room for four adults, or a family of five. The seats are comfortable both front and back, offering some support up front. The driver has access to a dashboard that is right out of the new 2022 Hyundai Tucson, with a digital instrument cluster and a touchscreen infotainment system in the Limited model.
The big difference between the Santa Cruz and the Tucson is the former gets an actual T-bar shifter for the transmission. It is a welcomed feature for this vehicle and will come in handy.
Depending on the trim level you choose, the Santa Cruz is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with or without a turbocharger. We drove the turbocharged engine, which puts out 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. This engine is connected to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive.
Hyundai claims you can tow up to 5,000 pounds with the turbocharged engine equipped with all-wheel drive. Payload for the open bed is rated up to 1,609 pounds for the same configuration. If you get a non-turbocharged model, payload ratings climb to around 1,753 pounds.
As for pricing, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz starts at $23,990 and is offered in four different trim levels. The turbocharged Limited model we drove had a sticker price of $41,100.
Currently, there is no actual competition to the Santa Cruz. However, the new Ford Maverick compact pickup truck has been compared to the Hyundai and pose as the only other vehicle consumers may consider in this smaller truck/utility vehicle market.
We are anticipating the opportunity for a deeper dive into this exciting new vehicle in the months to come. For now, we’re happy to report that the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is now on sale at your local dealership.
No matter what you call it, the 2022 Santa Cruz is the most versatile vehicle coming onto the market. We cannot wait to tell you more about how it drives at a future date. If this initial experience with it is an indicator, we’re just as excited as you are.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors