Don’t get it twisted: the new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a pickup truck. Its smaller proportions and unibody construction just mean it’s no full-size tow rig. Instead, think of the first Hyundai pickup as an alternative to the also-unibody Honda Ridgeline, which too features a one-size-fits-all crew cab, short-bed body style. The Santa Cruz certainly looks more distinct than the Honda–or any other mid-size truck, for that matter–with its interesting face and creased sheetmetal. Its interior also appears to be snazzier than its classmates, but the lack of physical controls (knobs and buttons) for the infotainment and HVAC systems, as well as what appears to be a small back seat, are question marks. Still, the 2022 Santa Cruz is a more functional twist on the tired crossover formula, and that open box on its butt means it qualifies as a pickup truck.
What’s New for 2022?
The idea of a Hyundai pickup truck has been around since the Santa Cruz concept was revealed at the 2015 Detroit auto show. That concept has become a reality as the Korean automaker has shown off the production version to the world. The 2022 Santa Cruz begins production at the Hyundai factory in Montgomery, Alabama in June and will go on sale this summer.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The Santa Cruz is available in four trim levels with various features. We think the SEL Premium is the one to get. Unlike the lesser SE and SEL, it has a more powerful engine along with fancier equipment. The latter includes LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Santa Cruz comes with two different powertrain choices. The standard setup is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that should make more than 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. The upgraded engine is a turbocharged 2.5-liter four with more than 275 horses and 310 pound-feet. Both mate to eight-speed automatics, but the turbo option partners with the dual-clutch variety. All-wheel drive is also offered with both four-cylinders. The Santa Cruz is shorter and lower than its segment rivals which, in theory, means it should be easier to maneuver. Hyundai also says its mid-size pickup is available with 18- or 20-inch wheels. The smaller dishes are said to offer taller sidewalls that are better suited for tackling rugged terrain.
Towing and Payload Capacity
Although the unibody Santa Cruz isn’t able to tow as much as its body-on-frame rivals such as the Jeep Gladiator and Toyota Tacoma, it can pull just as much as the only other unibody in this class, the Ridgeline. Both trucks are capped at a 5000-pound towing capacity, but that’s with the Hyundai’s more powerful turbocharged engine. The standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder is only rated to tug up to 3500 pounds.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the Santa Cruz looks like it could have one of the nicest cabins among mid-size pickups. Hyundai has made a habit of building vehicles with attractive materials and desirable modern features that would look right in costlier vehicles. It’s the first truck in its class to offer a fully digital gauge cluster, and we appreciate that it has a traditional shifter on the center console instead of a finicky rotary knob or push-button setup. While we know the Santa Cruz is only available with a four-door crew cab, we don’t know its exact interior dimensions, so we can’t say how its passenger space compares with rivals. However, the fact that its wheelbase is about 7 inches shorter than the Ridgeline’s suggests its back seat might not be particularly roomy. Likewise, its cargo bed looks to be one of the shortest in the segment at about four feet long. At least it has a lockable tonneau cover and a useful in-bed trunk that’s similar to what the Honda offers.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Hyundai ensures its pickup truck is outfitted with a contemporary infotainment system in the form of a standard 8.0-inch or an available 10.0-inch touchscreen. However, we think the company’s decision to omit any physical controls is a misstep. Along with wireless device charging, the Santa Cruz offers wireless pairing for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Those who want an upgraded stereo can opt for the eight-speaker Bose sound system. With Hyundai’s Blue Link services, which are provided free of charge for three years, users can start the truck, lock and unlock doors, and more remotely via the Internet, myriad apps, and even Amazon Alexa.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Santa Cruz offers an array of driver-assistance technology, including a standard driver-attention warning and optional adaptive cruise control. For more information about the Santa Cruz’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Hyundai—along with its corporate counterpart, Kia—has long offered one of the best warranty plans in the industry, with especially noteworthy powertrain coverage. The company also now offers complimentary scheduled maintenance that bests mainstream rivals such as Toyota.
- Limited warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for three years or 36,000 miles
As more information becomes available, we’ll update this story with more details about:
- Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG