The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Is An Interesting "Truck"
Hello people of the internet. I'm Nico and today I will be talking about the recently announced Hyundai Santa Cruz "Sports Adventure Vehicle".
So Hyundai is entering the pickup truck segment. This is something that I didn't entirely expect to be reporting on but after the past year that we've been through, I guess it shouldn't be that surprising. For all you foreigners that haven't heard of this thing called a "pickup truck" it is literally the most sold vehicle in the US, and in the world actually. Though that would be the Ford F-150, the king of the pickups for the past few decades. So the Santa Cruz then, it's not a full size pickup, that is kind of based on one of their SUVs. So is it really a pickup, and is it worth it? That's what I'm here to find out.
So the Santa Cruz, as said by the CEO of Hyundai Motor North America, "breaks open all new segment territory both for Hyundai and the industry as a whole." Hold your horses there partner. I'm sure that is Hyundai's intention but "Open bed flexibility coupled with closed cabin security meets the changing everyday needs of its adventure-oriented buyers, while powerful and efficient engines and superb maneuverability ensure it is a pleasure to drive in urban or off road environments" is already kind of accomplished with midsized pickups like the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado. Both of which are well thought out trucks with many benefits. So how is this opening a new segment territory? I have no idea but we'll find out soon enough if they actually succeeded.
Let's start off with the most important thing in anything like a pickup truck: the bed. A integral part of a truck, designed to carry any object you desire to lug it around, be it a piano or all of your hillbilly friends. It is supposed to be big and capable of carrying heavy things, which is where the problems begin for the Santa Cruz. Take the Tacoma as an example, like most trucks, it has a 5 foot bed, though a 6 foot one is available, something the Santa Cruz doesn't have, with merely a 4 foot bed. I'm sorry to say this (not really) but that is pathetic considering what the Santa Cruz is competing with, namely regular pickup trucks. Hyundai say that it is easier to maneuver as it is shorter than any of its rivals, but as midsized pickups are no more difficult to maneuver than the similarly sized SUVs available, I would just get a Chevy Colorado or Ford Ranger and take the extra foot or two in the bed. Bed aside, it is your basic SUV or crossover inside, with some truck touches thrown in. The back seats lift up, revealing a storage area beneath the seats like you would see in any available truck. But more on the interior later.
Now this is not to say that there are no benefits to the bed of this particular truck. As is with a lot of trucks these days, there is a lockable tonneau cover, keeping your personable belongings safe and secure. But that isn't the best part by any means. My favorite trick is the storage underneath the bed, yeah, your eyes are reading correctly, there is storage underneath the bed, like the under floor storage you would find in many crossovers today, and the Honda Ridgeline. It is also lockable, keeping your items hidden and locked away in their own safe of sorts. As much as I dislike this "truck" I have to admit that is a brilliant feature.
It's not as bad as you would think, considering you can only get two, rather small engines. In the front sits a 2.5 liter four cylinder engine making 190ish horse power and 180 pound-feet of torque. There is a more powerful turbocharged version available, which I suggest you go for if you are considering this vehicle. The upgraded option will likely be the more popular option as it should produce over 275 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Respectable horsepower figure and actually considerably more torque than the Tacoma, which has 265 pound-feet. Better still, there are two 8 speed transmissions available, a standard automatic and a dual clutch automatic, with the dual clutch being only available with the more powerful turbo four cylinder. All wheel drive is available for both engines.
Back to the power figures I mentioned, while they are decent, they for some reason don't do much to improve the Santa Cruz's towing ability. The more powerful engine is rated to tow up to 5,000 lbs which is just as much as the Honda Ridgeline, but not as much as the Toyota Tacoma or the Chevy Colorado, which can both tow well over 6,000 lbs. This disappointing towing performance is probably in large part due to its construction, which is a unibody, the same construction method as every regular car and the Honda Ridgeline. The traditional pickups are a body on frame build, which literally means that they bolt the body to the frame, which is better for towing.
This is the party piece of the Santa Cruz actually. Hyundai has made a reputation for itself to make some pretty decent interiors for little money and the Santa Cruz is no different. Despite its estimated $25k base price, there is an available 10 inch center display for the infotainment system, though an 8 inch is standard, as well as an available digital gauge cluster display. Furthermore, there are beautiful leather seats and some wonderful tech to accompany them. There is available wireless charging as well as wireless Android Auto and Apple Carplay. For those who want to hear their tunes better there is an optional 8 speaker Bose audio system. Of course used after owners unlock and start their Santa Cruz using the Hyundai Digital Key app on their Android phone, and soon iPhones I'm sure.
Like many modern cars and especially Hyundais, the Santa Cruz comes as standard with plenty of safety tech. In all trim levels you get forward collision avoidance with pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as lane-keeping assist and driver attention warning. If that o\isn't enough, additional safety features are available, such as: adaptive cruise control, a surround view monitor, rear cross traffic alert, blind-spot collision avoidance, safe exit assist, and a blind spot view monitor that will show the a live camera view of what is in your blind-spot within the gauge cluster screen. Rest assured, you will have lots of computers looking after you, helping mitigate any mistakes you might make.
Would I Buy One?
No, I'm not particularly interested in buying a truck, nor do I have the money as a 19 year old, but even if I did I wouldn't buy it and here's why. If I were looking to buy a pickup, the reason I would get it is to be decent enough to daily drive, but mostly to use it as a tool, to tow or transport heavy or otherwise unwieldy objects that I need a truck for to carry. So naturally I would be drawn to the best tool which plainly is not the Santa Cruz. It doesn't have a big bed and the towing capacity isn't anywhere close to the more popular Toyota Tacoma or Chevy Colorado, which can tow 6,400 lbs and 7,000 lbs respectively.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz is both a hit and a miss. It has many great qualities, such as the safety tech and interior quality, and some drawbacks, like the towing capacity, bed size, and restricting unibody construction. The main issue I have with it is that the Santa Cruz is basically a smaller Honda Ridgeline. Which isn't really a compliment as sales figures of the Ridgeline are miserable compared to the Tacoma. That said I do think this will sell better than the ridgeline because of its radical design and interior benefits. Out of the two unibody trucks I would probably still go with the Ridgeline just because of the longer bed. Although I have to admit, the Santa Cruz is tempting for its interior and Halo-like styling.