By Cars.com EditorsAugust 9, 2021
About the video
We’ve been teased by the idea of a Hyundai pickup truck for years and now, finally, here it is: the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz — though Hyundai won’t call it a pickup. Watch our video to find out more.
We've been teased for years by the idea of a pickup truck from Hyundai, and now finally, here it is. The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz. Except, Hyundai isn't calling it a pickup. They're calling it a sport adventure vehicle.
But I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. Come closer. Little closer. It's a pickup. But less important than what it is, is how it is. So let's check it out. (rock music) The front styling of the Santa Cruz reminds you of the Tucson, Hyundai's using the same sort of grill design here with these integrated lighting elements. And then as you come along to the sides here, you'll first notice what are twenty inch wheels. The Santa Cruz is also available with eighteens, but this is the top of the line Limited which comes with twenties. We've got this stylized fender here, with a little Santa Cruz Easter egg, that's kinda fun. And then you come along the sides, and you get some aggressive sculpting. Not as aggressive as the Elantra or Tucson, I always think they look a little pre-dented, but you do have this element running along the shoulder line here. And then this one along the bottoms of the doors. But as you come along to the back, the real showpiece is this angled sea pillar which leads to the pickup bed. Because again, sport adventure vehicle or not, this is a pickup. Overall the Santa Cruz is a hundred and ninety five point seven inches long, that's four inches shorter than the new Ford Maverick, and more than a foot shorter than the Honda Ridgeline. At the back before we get to the bed, few more cool little styling elements, you've got this stamped Santa Cruz logo, you get another Santa Cruz Easter egg, and you get these, which aren't just really an Easter egg but convenience, you get bed steps at each corner to help you access what you've put in the bed. Now, the bed itself is a little bit more than four feet long, but when you extend the tailgate, that's more than six feet. And, Hyundai has included on this model, it comes standard, an integrated tonneau cover that locks and slides so you can keep stuff in the bed and keep the bed closed. If you want to close it, there's a handy strap to pull it closed, and Hyundai says the cover is removable if you need that extra little bit of length in the bed, but they don't really recommend it if you don't have to. There's lockable under bed storage located here, for your valuables or if you want to tailgate, this has a drain plug, put some drinks, put some ice over the top. And there are also lockable storage compartments on each side of the bed, and you can get an optional hundred and fifteen volt power outlet there as well. There's also LED bed lighting located here above the bed, and then one light in each side. You get some bed rails with cleats for locking storage. And there are numerous other convenience features for dividing the bed storage how you might want to do that, whether it's split vertically or horizontally. And there'll be a whole host of dealer available and most likely after market accessories as well for carrying mountain bikes, dirt bikes, surfboards, whatever you want really. At it's widest, the bed is almost fifty four inches wide with more than forty two inches between the wheel wells, and it's got a depth of nineteen point two inches. The inside of the Santa Cruz is fairly comfortable, I have plenty of room up front. Not a whole lot of usable storage space, most of this front area is taken up by a fifteen wireless charge, which is nice, but harder to store things here if you also want to charge your phone. And then there's just a little bit over to the side of that. This is fairly roomy and deep, but that's about it, there's no storage here, and you just have a clove box for the rest of it. Technology wise, we've got dual ten and a quarter inch screens, one for the instrument panel, one for the touch screen. They look great. I have no real complaints about that. I've always enjoyed Hyundai's infotainment system, still works great here. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and with the eight inch screen, they're actually available wirelessly. With the more upscale ten point two five inch screen however, it's wired. My complaints are, I'm not used to the non cockpit style that we've got going on here. It's becoming more common in cars, and I feel like, you know, you drive it a lot, you'll get used to it, but for now, I miss my little hood. More importantly, is the switch to almost entirely capacitive touch control. We've got capacitive volume control, capacitive tuning, capacitive climate controls. We don't really like them, they don't work as well as traditional buttons. They look nice, right up until you start to use them and then they get all smudgy. These have been used just a few times today, and there's already kind of a mess. But, that's what Hyundai has done here. We still have some physical controls here for things like the heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats as well as the center diff lock, the auto hold, hill descent control, cameras. I'm also really glad that there's a physical gear lever here instead of the push button transmission you find in some other Hyundai's. There's never really safe space, and this is much more natural to me. Materials quality is good throughout, although it does seem like Hyundai is still cheaping on amount. So things feel soft to the touch, they feel nice, then you start pushing at them, they're still kind of hard surfaces. And most of that materials quality and roominess carries over to the backseat too. Now I did say that most of that carries over. You can see, I don't have that much leg room behind where I would be sitting up front in the drivers seat. But more importantly, my knees are a little bit higher of an angle than I would really like for longer trips, it's gonna get kind of uncomfortable after an hour or two. Also, this high belt line here, which is basically a cost of the styling on the outside, can make the inside feel a little bit claustrophobic. But I do have enough head and shoulder room where I don't feel like I'd be cramped sitting next to someone. If you are feeling claustrophobic, there's this little pastor window that's pretty much the only way to access the bed from inside the vehicle. It's not much, but it does let in a little bit of light and extra air. Materials quality also takes a bit of a dip. So the seating material is nice, but instead of the soft touch materials up front on top of the door, you get some harder plastic, and more hard plastic as you go along the doors here. In back you do get some climate vents, and in the limited model, you do also get two extra USB ports here, they're USB A just like up front. There are no USB C ports in the Santa Cruz, but it's nice to have a little bit of extra device charging for passengers on a trip. There's also under seat storage available in the back to carry some extra items. One last thing to note about the Santa Cruz, you may have noticed from the way we're filming, is that the opening is itself is just not very wide, this is very narrow, the door doesn't open very far. Can be kind of difficult to get into. (rock music) Power for the Santa Cruz comes from a choice of two different two point five liter four cylinder engines. The first is a naturally aspirated one that makes one hundred and ninety one horsepower and one hundred and eighty one pound speed of torque. This is the turbo charged two point five liter, giving you two hundred and eighty one horsepower and three hundred and eleven pound speed of torque. It's the same powertrain from the Sonata N line, and while it's not quite as sporty as that, it's still pretty damn sporty. Power delivery feels very linear, transmission's never hunting for the gear, and as you can see from these twisty roads, it's actually handling itself fairly well. It is still a pickup truck, so I'm not squealing the tires and I'm not having an absolute blast driving these mountain roads, but it's really not bad. It's really really actually kind of surprising how well the Santa Cruz can handle these twists and turns. Body roll is fairly minimal. The ride is not too firm. You do feel some bumps, I'm wondering if on, you know, less quality roads you might feel them a little bit more, so I'm kind of eager to get this back in our home offices of Chicago where the roads are terrible so I can see if I'm right. I feel like the eighteen inch wheels might be a little bit of a better choice, get you a little bit more sidewall, a little bit more cushioning as you go over bumps and potholes and things. I mentioned transmissions, you get your choice of 8-speed automatic, the non turbo versions get a traditional 8-speed, while this gets an 8-speed wet dual-clutch automatic. Hyundai's been proliferating that throughout their lineup of late. Like I said, fairly smart, doesn't hunt for gears, always seems to have you in the right one. The Santa Cruz comes in front wheel drive or all wheel drive, all wheel drive is standard on the SEL Premium Unlimited, so this is a Limited so obviously, standard all wheel drive, but it's nice that you can get it on all the trim levels if you want. Fuel economy for the Santa Cruz will vary based on powertrain obviously. This all wheel drive turbo model is rated at twenty two miles per gallon combined, while both versions surprisingly of the non turbo two point five are rated at twenty three. So there's really not that much of a penalty for the extra nearly hundred horsepower and more than a hundred pound speed of torque. Tongue capacity is one of the areas the Santa Cruz is likely to distinguish itself with thirty five hundred pounds max towing in front wheel drive models, and up to five thousand in the turbo all wheel drive model. That's about a thousand pounds more than the max for the Maverick, and puts it in line with the Ridgeline, and also not too far away from other midsize pickups. Payload capacity for the Santa Cruz and obviously as with all payload numbers that includes passenger weight too, so keep that in mind. But the total payload capacity for the Santa Cruz varies from about fifteen hundred to seventeen hundred and fifty pounds depending on configuration. Again, the more loaded it is, the more equipment it has, the lower that number is gonna be. Santa Cruz also comes with a fairly robust set of standard safety features, including forward collision avoidance, lane keeping assist, lane follow assist, driver attention monitor, and also a rear occupant alert, it's a door operated system so, if you open the back door to load something in, like, say a child, the next time you stop the car, it'll remind you to check the backseat. Other optional safety features depending on trim level include blind spot monitoring including Hyundai's nifty camera system that will show you what's to your left and right in the instrument panel as you signal. As well as a surround view three sixty camera system, and safe exit warning which will warn you and even honk the horn if it determines that it's unsafe for you to exit the vehicle. The Limited also adds adaptive cruise control and Hyundai's highway driving assist. The Santa Cruz may not be enough to sway traditional pickup shoppers, whether that's because of a purist view of what a pickup truck should be, or whether because of the Santa Cruz's price point of twenty five to forty thousand dollars, you start to see some overlap with midsize or even low trim full size pickups that might offer more specific capabilities than the Santa Cruz. But I'm not sure all that matters. In the end, this is basically a surprisingly fun to drive SUV with a very utilitarian pickup bed attached to it. Whether that's enough to give the Santa Cruz staying power, we'll have to see.