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Hyundai Santa Cruz information and reviews

The official factory page for the Hyundai Santa Cruz

JD Power has a study that they call the APEAL study. It stands for Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout and is meant to measure "owners' emotional attachment and level of excitement with their new vehicle". The Santa Cruz placed first in its class, ahead of Midsize Pickups such as the Nissan Frontier, Ford Maverick, Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger, and others. A remarkable feat for its first year in existence. has a nice walk around video of the new Santa Fe which provides a lot of details about the Sport Adventure Vehicle. The second video is their first drive of it. drove the Turbo and non-Turbo. They loved its flat cornering calling it "entertaining to drive on a winding canyon road." As for comfort, they felt that ride quality as well as front seat comfort were both excellent. While they had concerns about the capacitive touch controls may be difficult to use, they said they became second nature in a very short time.

Road and Track points out some of the highlights that they really like from the Santa Cruz preview. It will be the smallest pickup on the market yet has an optional 2.5L turbo with an estimated 275 HP and 310 lb-ft of torque mated to a wet-type dual-clutch automatic transmission that can tow up to 5000 lbs (up to 3500 lbs in the 2.5L non-turbo).

At the next press event, Road and Track was able to drive the turbo version of the Santa Cruz. They liked how well it cornered... a lot. "I've never driven a vehicle that had an open bed and handled like this." They called it quiet, comfortable, and agile. They noted that the list of safety tech, amenities, and active lifestyle goodies is long. 

MotorTrend runs through a list of things that they like about the new Santa Cruz based on their preview with the vehicle. That list includes optional GoPro mounts available from the factory built into the top of the front fender flares. There is also an interesting solution to allow the small bed to be able to carry sheets of plywood. The folding metal tonneau cover that supports over 200 pounds but can be retracted into a small storage bin under the rear window. See all their comments here.

In this neat little article from MotorTrend they write about the Santa Cruz after spending a week with it. During that time they transported an assembled grille, went grocery shopping, and helped a friend with a disabled bicycle. They also comment on the performance of the vehicle and what it is like spending time in the interior. Did you know that the turbo version enjoys a very quick 6.3 seconds 0-60 mph? See all their comments here.

AutoGuide spent a couple of days trying out the Santa Cruz and seemed to like it a lot. They drove the turbo version and mentioned a couple of times that it is a powerful setup. Other highlights for them included the flexible utility of the bed, well laid-out and comfortable interior (for both rows of seats), and the refined ride. drove the Santa Cruz at a press test drive event. This article doesn't really say a lot - it drives well with a nice interior, with only a few nits to pick - but I think it sums up well what the Santa Cruz is in reality: an SUV alternative. Hyundai call it a Sport Adventure Vehicle but what it really is a crossover SUV with a more practical cargo area.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Turbo

Hyundai's official walk-around video of the Santa Cruz Limited:

Savage Geese drove the turbo. "I love driving drives like a's quiet, it handles well, the all-wheel-drive system works well, and it's super soft which is something that I really like...this thing is really quick,'s nimble and quick to respond...they did a really good job with this car." They like it. And as an added bonus, these guys are fun to watch. WARNING: the language is a little saltier in this one than is typical for what I have seen from these guys.

Car and Driver points out toward the end of the article that the base price for the Santa Cruz is thousands more than the base price of the Ford Maverick, and they feel that might be a problem. But if you follow their link to the article on the Maverick, you will learn that the Maverick base model has far less standard equipment and does not offer AWD as an option. Hyundai, on the other hand, is offering a well-appointed Tucson with an open bed. So there is a reason for the price difference - Hyundai doesn't want to offer a "work truck" trim of the Santa Cruz since the target audience is the weekend adventurer. In fact, they call the Santa Cruz a Sport Adventure Vehicle. The other negative is that they feel that the base engine is underpowered. They feel that way about the Tucson also, but I have driven the base engine, and have sold several, and me and the buyers feel that the engine is fine for everyday use. But we aren't automotive journalists that like a lot of power in our cars. It may be odd for me to start my introduction to this article with the negatives, but that was all of them - two. They are a fan of everything else - the power of the turbo, the towing capability of both engines, the ride and handling, the interior layout, the amazing flexibility and capability of the bed area, etc. See all their comments here. On November 10th, 2021 they updated the article to include instrumented testing. Those tests reveal that the turbo version has faster acceleration than anything a shopper might compare in the moidsize truck category... but this is more of a compact truck with a turbo so that makes sense. Also, the noise level in the cabin is quite low.

I am actually including this article mainly for fun. It is written by Ezra Dyer of Car and Driver and he is a hilarious writer (you should search his name on the internet and read some of his articles). In this article he explains why the Santa Cruz is enough "truck" for most people, but does so with his usual flair.

Hyundai Santa Cruz vs the competition does a detailed comparison of the new Ford Maverick and the new Hyundai Santa Cruz. The reviewer sums up by saying that the choice could really go either way depending on what you value more. The Maverick, for example, starts at a lower price which comes with a hybrid vehicle with great fuel economy. But that vehicle is equipped sparsely. The Ford is also styled more like a typical truck and has a lower bed for lifting items in and out. The Santa Cruz has a nicer interior, better tech, and a better driving experience. Check the video out below as it does an excellent job explaining the difference between them.

AutoGuide compares the Santa Cruz and Honda Ridgeline in this article. They compare the two on several different categories such as Interior/Cargo, Powertrain/Driving Feel, and more. The Honda Ridgeline is bigger and therefore more practical. And while the Santa Cruz has some funky new whizbang technology, they feel that the Ridgeline has more features so the Ridgeline wins the technology comparison. So with wins on size and technology, why did the Santa Cruz win the competition running away? Because, as they sum up, "The Santa Cruz isn't just better than the Ridgeline, it's better than most new vehicles full-stop." They point out that the Santa Fe turbo is more powerful, handles better, gets better fuel economy, has killer looks, better active safety, well you get the idea. I love the creativity in the description of what the Santa Cruz means to the marketplace in the final paragraph... "It's the turbocharged cyberpunk party monster of the unibody pickup market..."

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