2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
A couple of months ago, we did a preview drive in the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz. We concluded that it was “the most versatile vehicle coming onto the market.” Plus, we said that “we cannot wait to tell you more about how it drives at a future date.”
That future date is now. Sooner than we anticipated. It is because Hyundai dealers have been bombarded with customers wanting to get their hands on this Sports Adventure Vehicle.
We don’t blame you. We’re pretty lucky ourselves. Let us revisit the Hyundai Santa Cruz…
To explain what the Santa Cruz is all about beyond its Sports Adventure Vehicle moniker. Hyundai also calls this a CUV+. The result is a four-door vehicle with an “open box” at the rear. You could call it a pickup truck.
The silhouette resembles a pickup truck. The front part of the vehicle might look similar to the latest Hyundai Tucson compact SUV. There are some different elements that distinguish it from the Tucson, but one could easily see both as the same. The Sant Cruz’s three-dimensional, boldly-textured grille and “wing”-like driving lamps are flanked by its headlamps that are positioned midway down the front fascia.
The cab roofline is bold compared to other vehicles of its type. It is sportier with a more angled C-pillar that leads to the open bed. The doors open wide for passengers to climb in easily.
This 52.1-inch-long bed is very useful for smaller items. A lockable 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.
The tailgate finishes off the Santa Cruz’s look with sledgehammer-like horizontal taillights. The only direction for the tailgate to open and close is from the bottom – just like a traditional pickup truck. Nothing fancy, unlike larger pickup trucks that open various other ways.
Inside the Santa Cruz’s cab has room for four adults, or a family of five. The seats are comfortable both front and back, offering some support up front. The jack for changing the tires are underneath the rear passenger-side seats, and there is another stowage space on the driver’s side. However, Hyundai took some clever steps on creating cupholders throughout the cabin – especially those that fit larger bottles and containers.
The driver has access to a dashboard that is right out of the new 2022 Hyundai Tucson. Our Limited tester had the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system. There are a lot of light touch “buttons” throughout the center stack, however it is balanced by familiar tactile and logical switches elsewhere.
We still love the fact that there is an actual T-bar shifter for the transmission. It is the one thing we can say that will make the Santa Cruz a fun vehicle to drive.
Our Limited tester was powered by the 281 horsepower 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With 311 pound-feet of torque, there is plenty of power to handle this 4,123-pound pickup truck and its 1,609-pound maximum payload. It is worth noting that Hyundai stated that this Santa Cruz has a maximum load capacity of 1,411 pounds – including passengers.
Our Limited tester came with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive. It is also worth noting that this Santa Cruz has a maximum tow rating of 5,000 pounds on this specific configuration. As for fuel economy, we averaged 23.5 MPG.
With all that said we found the Santa Cruz on the heavy side in terms of the driving experience. We were unable to utilize any of the towing and payload capacities, but if you’re just getting around town and hitting the highway with a few items, the ride is solid with no pitching or feedback from rougher road surfaces. It handles quite well, even with a raised ride height.
The steering system is fine, except we wished it had a tighter turning radius for its relative size. On-center feel is quite good in Normal mode. Put the Santa Cruz into Sport or Smart mode, and it has a bit more lane holding and some weight to the feel. The brakes were also just fine. Pedal feel is solid, as was the response down the wheels. We experienced decent stops in normal and panic situations.
Pricing for the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz starts at $23,990 and is offered in four different trim levels. Our turbocharged Limited tester had a sticker price of $41,100.
The Santa Cruz is not the only vehicle of its kind. The Ford Maverick is heading to its first customers soon. Anything else you have seen will be in a larger size class.
There is a lot to say about the Hyundai Santa Cruz. If we needed to summarize our feelings about it, we turn to you and your active lifestyle. After all, the Santa Cruz is exactly what Hyundai intended – a Sports Adventure Vehicle.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors