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Review: Hyundai’s first pickup, the 2022 Santa Cruz

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Price: We expect the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz pricing to start around $25,000.

There has been lots of discussion about a Hyundai
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pickup truck over the years. But it’s here now, and this all-new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz makes its debut this summer.

Hyundai calls the Santa Cruz a “Sport Adventure Vehicle.” We, however, think it’s more accurate to call it a compact 4-door crossover SUV with a small pickup bed.

The new Santa Cruz is based on a longer, wider version of the new Tucson platform. The new 2022 Santa Cruz will come with a choice of two engines, along with cutting-edge connectivity and an open bed. This new Hyundai pickup also will have full-time all-wheel drive (AWD), which means the Santa Cruz will be at home in urban and outdoorsy environments.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz


Hyundai

Says Hyundai’s U.S. boss Jose Munoz: “Santa Cruz, with its bold styling, breaks open an all-new segment territory, both for Hyundai and the industry as a whole. Open-bed flexibility coupled with closed-cabin security meets the ever-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. Our customers will wonder just how they managed before owning one.”

Think that will be true? Possibly. The U.S. hasn’t had a compact 4-door SUV-like pickup since maybe the Ford
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Explorer Sport Trac, which was trucklike under the skin and at the gas pump, or perhaps the Subaru
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Baja.

Review: Hyundai’s first pickup, the 2022 Santa Cruz 2

The Santa Cruz: Compact enough to fit in your garage.


Hyundai

While we see the new Santa Cruz as Hyundai’s version of the Honda
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Ridgeline, it’s a more compact vehicle that’s easier around town and a bit more fuel-efficient. As such, it’s in a class of one, perhaps filling a niche we didn’t know existed. This could serve the needs of someone who wants a truck that’s less expensive than a midsize truck and easier to park in the garage.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz pricing

When the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz arrives later this summer, we expect it to have a reasonable starting price of around $25,000. Like all Hyundais, it will be backed by an outstanding 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Driving the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

We plan to drive the new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz late this summer. Check back.

Interior comfort

From what we’ve seen so far, the new Santa Cruz interior has the same refinement and modern style as the Elantra, Sonata, Santa Fe, and Palisade. The main center stack houses a 10.25-inch screen. Apple
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CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity come standard. This should be as easy to connect as with other Hyundai systems.

We anticipate front-seat space will be similar to that of the new Tucson, but the rear seats look slightly smaller. Legroom there should be closer to that of a subcompact SUV. The rear seats also fold up, making room for larger cargo and revealing clever under-seat storage.

Also see: The most popular SUVs on the market

Exterior styling

The new Santa Cruz blends the 4-door cabin of a compact crossover SUV with the utility of a short but handy truck bed. As a unit-body design, the new Santa Cruz has no visible seam between its cab and bed, so it looks more solid, more of a piece. Like the look or not, we respect Hyundai for building a compact pickup the way it feels is best.

In front, the bold grille uses hidden lighting, similar to that of the Sonata and new Tucson. There are daytime running lights, as well as a skid-plate feature at the bottom of the front fascia. From the side, the 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz looks retro-modern, with a raked C-pillar that hints ever so slightly at the Subaru Brat. Eighteen- and 20-inch wheels will be available.

Check out: 15 electric cars (and trucks) to watch for in 2022

The Hyundai’s bed is 4 feet long, with an adjustable tailgate that allows you to securely carry longer items. The bed has underfloor storage with a drain plug, so you can use it as a cooler when at a BBQ or tailgate party. There are tie-down points and cleats, and a lockable retractable tonneau cover is available.

Favorite features

Innovative cargo bed

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz bed is small, but smartly designed. With underfloor storage, a retractable locking tonneau cover, and tie-downs and cleats, you can make terrific use of this space. There are also spots molded into the bedsides that let you create a 2-tier storage shelf. And access is easy, thanks to three integrated bumper steps.

It’s the right size

We think the new Hyundai Santa Cruz is sized just right — large enough to have a comfortable 5-seat compact-SUV cabin and a handy but small bed. Popular midsize pickups like the Toyota
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Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, and Ford Ranger have grown so large that we think the time is ripe for a new vehicle to slot in below these proven players

Standard features

Hyundai hasn’t released the full list of standard equipment for the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz. However, it will come standard with a 190-horsepower 2.5-liter engine backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Smartphone connectivity will be standard, as will elements of Hyundai’s SmartSense safety suite found in other new Hyundai models. Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, and Driver Attention Warning are all standard. The front-wheel-drive (FWD) Santa Cruz rides on 18-inch wheels.

Factory options

There is an optional 275-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. All-wheel drive will be an option with every trim level, and 20-inch wheels also will be available.

See: Your guide to off-road midsize pickups

It’s still too early for a complete list of options, but wireless smartphone charging, Bose audio, and a digital gauge cluster are available. You can expand the list of SmartSense safety features with the addition of Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance, Safe Exit Assist, Blind-Spot View Monitor, a Surround View Monitor, and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist.

If we could, we would put a limited-slip rear differential on our wish list for better performance in slippery conditions. We’d also welcome some optional protective skid plates.

Engine and transmission

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz will be available with a choice of two engines. The standard engine is a 190-horsepower, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that uses an 8-speed automatic transmission. This engine produces around 180 lb-ft of torque. Towing capacity with the base engine is 3,500 pounds.

Also see: The best cars for new college grads

Those who want more power can opt for the turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, which puts out 275 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. That engine uses an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters. With the optional engine, towing capacity goes up to 5,000 pounds. The turbocharged 2.5-liter is available only with all-wheel drive (AWD).

2.5-liter inline-4:
estimated 190 horsepower
estimated 180 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/27 mpg (AWD), 21/26 mpg (FWD)

Turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-4:
estimated 275 horsepower
estimated 310 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg

This story originally ran on KBB.com.

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