The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Is Perfect for Small Tailgate Parties

by Gabrielle DeSantis

For those of us with pickup trucks, football season means tailgating season. That’s why Hyundai is hoping its new pickup truck/crossover Santa Cruz — stocked with plenty of party-centric features — will be the perfect tailgating companion. 

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz at a glance

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai Motor America

The Santa Cruz, a brand-new model debuting this year, has the luxury of learning from decades of pickup trucks before it. That means Hyundai has packed it with all the features you’ve come to love from competitors like the Honda Ridgeline and Chevy Avalanche.

Under the hood of the Santa Cruz sits a 2.5-liter inline-four making 191 hp and 181 lb-ft torque. Or you can upgrade to a 2.5-liter turbo-four harnessing 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. Both come with automatic transmissions, though the latter is a dual-clutch with paddle shifters. And both offer optional all-wheel drive, MotorTrend reports.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is also loaded with advanced safety features and driver assists. Expect driver-attention warnings, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automated braking, lane-departure warnings, lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and a rear-view camera.

The unique truck bed is perfect for tailgating

The 2022 Santa Cruz’s bed might seem small, but it’s loaded with unique features. They include easy-access steps, plywood storage ledges, a secured under-bed compartment, numerous storage compartments throughout the vehicle, a rollover cover, GoPro mounts, a 115-Volt charger, and more — according to MotorTrend.

According to Car and Driver, the 2022 Santa Cruz’s bed is on the shorter side — measuring 48.4 to 52.1 inches. That’s about a foot shorter than the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and Honda Ridgeline beds.

However, the Santa Cruz’s shorter bed makes for a great tailgate partner thanks to its easy-access nature. Plus, all of those handy compartments can help you store food, drinks, chairs, tables, tents, and everything else you might need to throw the perfect tailgate party from the back of this unique vehicle.

But there’s more. The Santa Cruz’s biggest tailgating feature lies hidden below the truck bed in the lockable, sealed-off compartment. This special spot comes with its own drain, too, which makes for a perfect ice chest to store your favorite snacks and beverages. 

The Hyundai Santa Cruz also offers an ‘SUV-like’ cabin

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is considered a compact truck because its bed is just a little smaller than the one found in a typical pickup truck. But what it lacks in bed space, it more than makes up for in its top-of-the-line cabin.

Nearly identical to the 2022 Hyundai Tucson’s interior, the Santa Cruz’s cabin and cockpit offer many of the features you’ve come to expect in an SUV. They include a Bose stereo, Apple CarPlay, an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, a wireless phone charger, and plenty of USB ports. Higher-end models get a 10-inch touchscreen, optional heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, and more.

The main difference between the Tucson and Santa Cruz is the back seat. To make room for the truck bed, Hyundai made the Santa Cruz’s back seat slightly smaller.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a unique take on the compact pickup truck. Combining features from SUVs, larger pickups, and its direct rivals, this vehicle is packed with features that make it one of the most interesting automotive debuts of the past decade and something truck lovers should keep on their radar.

RELATED: The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Is 1 of the Most Fuel-Efficient Pickups to Buy

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