Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is parked on a mountain.

Is the Hyundai Santa Cruz Your Next Truck?

For about seven years now, Hyundai has been teasing us with the idea of a pickup. Now, after much waiting, it’s about to become a reality. Recently, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz was officially revealed, and it’s set to go into production this year. If all goes well, it should become available before the end of the year. But is it destined to be your next pickup? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for and if it checks all of your boxes.

The Santa Cruz is a compact pickup with a crossover design, so if you’re looking for a conventional truck, then this really isn’t it. That being said, it has seating for up to five people in the standard crew cab, plus a rear bed that gives you a lot of space for loading up with everything you need. There are two engines available, including an impressive turbocharged option, with an available 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that promises to be a lot of fun to drive. If you’re looking for a sporty and adventurous compact truck that’s going to have some very impressive technology and safety features, then this looks to be a great choice.

Engines and Performance

Full disclosure, there are still plenty of details and specifics that Hyundai hasn’t released yet for the upcoming Santa Cruz, so I’m not going to be able to give you every last bit of information that I’d like. This is Hyundai’s first truck for the American market, so it’s a pretty big deal for them, and they’re clearly trying to do its release properly. While I don’t have every spec yet, there’s lots that I do know, and that’s what we’re going to get into.

For starters, there are two engines available for the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, and they are both good options. Which one is best really depends on the kind of performance you’re looking for. The standard engine is a 2.5L 4-cylinder that will offer up a solid amount of horsepower and torque, and it will come paired with a standard 8-speed automatic transmission. However, if you want more power, then there will be a turbocharged version of this engine available, with greater horsepower and torque. The turbo will also come paired with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic for faster and even more responsive shifting.

Front-wheel drive is standard with either engine, regardless of trim, but you can get Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system as an option for either one. So no matter which trim or engine you prefer, you’ll be able to get AWD if you want it, which is fantastic. Combined with its smaller size, the AWD is going to make this a terrific option if you’re looking for a truck to load up and take camping or for weekend getaways.

A green 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is shown from the side overlooking a mountain.

Towing and Payload Capacities

Speaking of loading up the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, we don’t have every last detail of how much weight it will be able to handle, but some specifics have been offered. For example, the starting trim with the standard engine will have a maximum towing capacity of up to 3,500 lbs. While payload will likely vary between trims and engines, the truck will top out at a more than respectable 1,748 pounds.

If you choose one of the higher SEL Premium or Limited trims, then you’ll get the more powerful turbocharged engine. This engine gives the Santa Cruz a towing capacity of up to 5,000 lbs when properly equipped. This isn’t equal to the highest towing capacities of even a midsize truck, but it’s quite respectable for a compact pickup and will certainly be sufficient for a lot of potential owners.

Interior Passenger and Cargo Space

Unlike some other truck models out there, you can’t get the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz with a small or regular cab size; it’s only available as a crew cab with four doors. That means it will be easy for all of your passengers to get into and out of this truck, making it a great choice for families that love to go camping or take road trips. Although we don’t have the exact interior dimensions just yet, Hyundai has said it’s a five-passenger vehicle, so you’ll be able to get your friends or family in there, but maybe don’t put the tallest folks in the back.

The rear bed measures just over four feet in length, so while this might not be ideal for loading up with bulky construction supplies, it’s a great option for camping, tailgating, and much more. Hyundai has clearly designed this bed for functionality, with a remote-activated tailgate and a lockable storage area under the bed for extra cargo. One of my favorite features is the factory-integrated, retractable, locking tonneau cover that lets you utilize the bed and secure your belongings inside it as needed.

Technology Features

While I don’t know for sure which features are going to be standard and which will be assigned only to certain trims, what I’ve seen from Hyundai in terms of interior technology is very impressive. For starters, you’ll have wireless connectivity for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus available wireless charging, so you won’t need a lot of cables to enjoy your media and your phone. An available Bose 8-speaker premium audio system with a subwoofer will really fill the cab with incredible sound perfect for any drive.

It looks like an 8-inch infotainment display will be standard, but there will be an available 10.25-inch infotainment screen with navigation. Best of all, you’ll be able to get a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, something that you won’t find in many other trucks on the road. Hyundai’s connectivity and app functionality will also allow you to start the Santa Cruz, lock and unlock the doors, and access other systems through an app on your phone.

A green 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is shown driving on a dirt road.

Safety Features

Hyundai is well known for making some of the safest vehicles on the road, and the 2022 Santa Cruz looks to be no exception. The Hyundai SmartSense package includes forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection standard, while smart cruise control with Stop & Go and a blind-spot collision-avoidance assist system are available. Rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist is standard on most models, while lane following assist and lane keeping assist are standard on all Santa Cruz trims.

A highway driving assist system, which will automatically help keep you centered in your lane, and a blind spot view monitor are both standard on the Limited trim. Meanwhile, driver attention warning that watches for impaired driving and a rear occupant alert that reminds you to check the backseat after you park are standard on all models. Overall, the Santa Cruz has great safety features that are sure to be welcomed by a lot of drivers.

What Don’t We Know?

As you can see, there’s a lot that Hyundai has revealed about their new truck, but we don’t know everything. For example, Hyundai estimates that the Santa Cruz will be available this summer, but there’s no hard date, and the chip shortage could potentially impact its release. Perhaps more importantly, there are no MSRPs currently available for any trim of the Santa Cruz. While some sites have made educated guesses at what the truck will cost, there’s no official word in that regard. As long as it comes in at a fair price, however, this is going to be a great choice for anyone looking for a compact truck with a taste for adventure.