The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Definitely Isn’t a Ford F-150 Alternative

by Gabrielle DeSantis

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is on its way, and it’s not your average compact pickup truck. It’s not a truck for serious hauling and towing. It’s certainly not a match for the likes of the Ford F-Series but it’s not trying to be. The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is the perfect truck for a specific type of driver. Who will this compact truck work for and what does it feature? We’ve got all the details.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a compact truck

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is basically the new Tucson SUV with a truck bed grafted onto it. The bed is only four feet long with the tailgate closed, so there’s not a lot of space. In the plus column, according to MotorTrend, it’s 14 inches shorter in overall length than the Honda Ridgeline making it easier to park.

Since the bed is four feet wide, you can still load a good number of things into it. The tailgate also helps, easily adjustable and removable without tools. The Santa Cruz has a maximum payload capacity of more than 1,700 pounds with around 600 pounds in the bed.

While it can’t tow trailers or haul large loads, it still has many useful features like a standard LED lighting setup that shines into the trunk when you open it. It has a lockable trunk in the bed beneath the load floor like the Ridgeline. It also has a drain plug for easy cleaning or use as a very large cooler which could be great at a tailgate party. It has cubbies at the sides of the bed, bumper corner steps, and a 115-volt power outlet.

What is this truck technically?

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On the inside, the Hyundai Santa Cruz is virtually identical to the redesigned 2022 Hyundai Tucson in the front. It offers an 8-inch standard screen for navigating the infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration. There’s a 10.25-inch screen available.

While you get analog dials standard, you do get an assortment of USB ports and a wireless phone charger. Upper trims give you more features like a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, heated and cooled seats, and a Bose audio system.

In the back, Santa Cruz is very different from Tucson. To make room for the bed, the back is smaller with less legroom. 

It offers a host of standard safety features like forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, lane centering functionality, and lane-keeping assist. Other features are available like a 360-degree camera set up, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot collision avoidance, blind-spot cameras, and more.

The tow rating ranges from 3,500 to 5,000 pounds. You can’t tow much, but it’s enough for a small camper or a utility trailer. It’s not the Ford F-Series so you don’t get integrated brake controllers and other towing-assist features.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

The base model of the new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has a front-wheel-drive configuration. It’s the only one now that Ridgeline dropped the option. If you move up to the HTRAC all-wheel-drive system, and it’s available across the lineup. As much as 50 percent of the power can be sent to the rear wheels through a lockable clutched center differential.

The truck has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine under its hood that gets 191 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. A turbocharged version of the engine is also available that gets up to 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. You get an eight-speed automatic transmission with the base engine and an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters with the turbo.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz has a strut suspension according to MotorTrend with a multilink design at the rear that gives the truck a completely independent suspension like the Honda Ridgeline’s. To keep the truck level, even when you’re hauling or towing, the rear suspension has standard self-leveling shock absorbers.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz can’t hang with the Ford F-150. But it can be the ideal truck for city dwellers who drive an hour out of town for biking, hiking, kayaking, and more on the weekends. They’ll like the fact that it’s easy to park in the city too.

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