2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Release Date: Summer 2021
Estimated Price: $35,000-$45,000 (estimated)
  • A new pickup referred to by Hyundai as an "SAV"
  • Compact size; it's 10-15 inches shorter than most midsize rivals
  • Two available four-cylinder engines, one naturally aspirated and the other turbocharged
  • Introduces the first Santa Cruz generation for 2022
Other years
Hyundai Santa Cruz for Sale
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Review
Hyundai Gives Us Our First Look at Its New Pickup
What is the Santa Cruz?

Well, it's an all-new pickup, Hyundai's first. But there's a lot more going on than just that. This is a compact truck that utilizes unibody construction rather than the traditional body-on-frame pickup underpinnings. What does that mean? Well, underneath, it shares a basic platform with the redesigned 2022 Hyundai Tucson compact crossover SUV. This car-like construction should result in a more comfortable ride than body-on-frame construction would, but it also results in lower overall capabilities when it comes to off-roading, towing and hauling.

Hyundai, for its part, is calling the Santa Cruz a "sport adventure vehicle," or SAV, and establishing an entirely new class of vehicle. But when I see a bed I can't help but call something a truck. However, the Santa Cruz is smaller than the midsize pickup trucks currently on sale, so it may very well have the potential to dominate an entirely new market.

What's under the Santa Cruz's hood?

At launch, the Santa Cruz will be available with one of two available engines. The first is a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 190 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. It's paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The second engine is a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder that puts out 275 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, paired to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Both engines will be available with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, but whichever one you choose, we feel like the power ratings are pretty competitive for a small or midsize truck.

The dual-clutch automatic transmission is unusual in a pickup truck — this style of transmission is often used in sports cars, especially when the automaker is looking to have quick, responsive shifts. Hyundai has used a similar eight-speed dual-clutch automatic in recent models such as the Veloster and Sonata N Line with positive results. So, we're hopeful that this somewhat unusual transmission will lead to sporty driving characteristics in the Santa Cruz, especially with the high-horsepower engine.

How's the Santa Cruz's interior?

While I wouldn't exactly call the Santa Cruz a luxury pickup truck, its cabin is a really nice place to be. The optional 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen and the matching 10.25-inch driver display screen are both high-resolution and easy to read. The layout of the interior is intuitive, with high-quality materials and lots of soft touchpoints for your elbows and knees to rest on. The seats are relatively comfortable and supportive from a static position, but we'll have to drive the Santa Cruz to get a real sense of comfort levels.

More noticeable right away are the curiously unintuitive center stack buttons. These shortcut buttons for the 10.25-inch screen as well as for the climate controls aren't well distinguished from one another. They all seem like one large touchscreen button, but with no clear delineation between them. There's also no physical feedback from the buttons when you press them, so it's hard to know if you've pressed them at all. Base trim levels will get a smaller 8-inch screen with more traditional physical buttons, which we may end up preferring.

The front seats are relatively comfortable, but the rear seats are a bit less spacious and a bit less forgiving. Legroom is definitely limited, but that's expected when you consider the Santa Cruz's compact size. Adults who check in under 5-foot-10 should fit just fine, but if your legs are particularly long, you'll be cramped in the back seat. Thankfully, headroom is abundant and getting in or out of the cabin is easy, but the rear seats are relatively stiff, with a very upright position and no option to recline the seats. What's more, there's no fold-down center console for passengers to lean on, and the cupholders are pushed into the outward position, in the doors. There is, however, a flip-up seat bottom with a bit of useful storage underneath for items like the spare-tire kit and maybe a few pairs of shoes.

How's the Santa Cruz's towing and hauling?

It's somewhat unfair to pit the Santa Cruz up against the Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and Ford Ranger since they're all significantly larger than the Hyundai. The Santa Cruz is in relatively new territory, so while its numbers may not seem large, we'll have to wait for a few truly compact competitors to arrive on the scene before we judge it objectively.

That said, max towing is between 3,500 and 5,000 pounds, which is respectable for a compact SUV, and it should be enough for small two-wheel trailers. Unfortunately, you can't get a trailer brake controller with the Santa Cruz (a feature that allows you to adjust the trailer's brakes from the cabin), so anything larger will take some aftermarket modification. Bed capacity is a bit low by most standards — only 660 pounds — but it should be enough for most small items. The Santa Cruz's overall dimensions limit the size of the bed too. It's only 48 inches long, whereas most midsize crew-cab pickups have beds that are about 12 inches longer.

Thankfully, there are a few extra cargo enhancements. First, there's a locking and drainable trunk in the bed. It's relatively shallow, but it's tall enough for some ice and a deluge of 12-ounce aluminum cans. Or, if you're not tailgating, you can store your wet or muddy gear from your latest adventure and easily rinse things out when you're finished. Then there's the height-adjustable tailgate. Simply move the two cables that hold the tailgate in place to a higher position on the bedside. At that point, you've got a tailgate that's held up a few inches higher, matching the wheelwells inside the bed, so you can haul longer items.

A standard composite bed cover, a rear bumper with several built-in steps, and a number of in-bed cargo tie-down locations should make the Santa Cruz very competitive when it comes to utilitarian needs. Other items such as a roll-up tonneau cover, a roof basket and a 115-volt in-bed power outlet will also be offered.

Consumer reviews

There are no consumer reviews for the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz video

[MUSIC PLAYING] TRAVIS LANGNESS: This is the all new, never been seen before, completely brand new, 100% new Hyundai Santa Cruz. It's a 2022 model, and with it, Hyundai says they're breaking the mold. They're not even calling it what we think it is. Is this a truck? It's not a truck. It's a sport adventure vehicle. Got it. It's a SAV. But this kind of looks like a truck to us. I have a lot of questions. I want to know what's under the hood. I want to know how much it's going to cost. I want to know can it go off road. But before we answer those questions, let's take a look and see exactly what it's got to offer nose to tail. Be sure to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel. And if you've got a favorite truck car combo, put it in the comments below. And for a cash offer on your car today, go to edmunds.com/sellmycar. Before we get to the utility stuff, let's talk about the looks on this truck because I think it looks great. It's not the boxy brutish truck you're used to, or SAV, as they're calling it. The front end is really sleek. It hearkens back to the concept that they released a few years ago. And sure it's missing the bright green tow hooks and there's no skid plates up front, but I love the way that these lights are integrated into the grill. There's this dark chrome look going on. And it all moves back. It sweeps really well. There's a lot of strong character lines, these big creases in the hood, and this is a vehicle you'll definitely see coming on the road. It's not shy about what it is. This looks sleek, modern, and aggressive, even if it isn't what we're used to from a pickup truck. [MAGICAL SOUND] Do you hear that? It's the sound of adventure calling. Let's check out the back. And we're going to take a look at the bed. But before we do that, I want to talk about this truck's size. This is considerably smaller than a Honda Ridgeline, a Toyota Tacoma, a Nissan Frontier. It's almost a foot shorter than most of those. And while it's a little bit wider than the Hyundai Tucson that it's based on by about 40 millimeters, it is a considerably compact-er, more compact, pickup than what we have now on the market. But what it might be a better competitor to is the upcoming Ford Maverick. Now we don't know a lot about the Ford Maverick. We've seen some spy shots of it here and there, but really this is one of the only compact pickups or utes or SAVs on the road. So what does it have to offer? This is the party piece. The bed is what every truck relies on and this one can do this. Remote tailgate. So let's talk about the capabilities, what this Santa Cruz can do. For starters, it's got this tonneau cover, which is going to be an option for it, that can hold 220 pounds of weight. So if you filled up the bed and you want to strap more stuff down to the top, or if you just want somewhere to sit, this is a good place to do it. Now it rolls back. That's pretty cool. Loud, but cool. And you've got this strap if you need to pull it forward, as well as a number of bed tie downs and, believe it or not, the bed-- I don't know if it'll open-- oh there it is-- has a trunk. Now this may look familiar to people who have seen our Ridgeline video. The Honda Ridgeline has one of these too. This is a little bit smaller. It's not as deep. But this one also has a drain so you could fill it up with ice and various beverages at your local tailgate party. Or if you go out for a day at the beach, you're surfing, you've got a wet wetsuit, you can throw it back here, muddy gear, whatever it is, this is a great place that you can throw stuff and then drain it later. Aside from that, there is also this area here, which pops open to reveal a plug. So you can plug stuff in the bed. 115 volt outlet. Then there's a whole sliding rail system good for tying things down. And an extra cool bit is that this tailgate adjusts height. So-- and I've only done this once so bear with me here. Maybe I can do it this way. This is a knee tailgate Carlos. I don't need my finger. Hey, look what I did. Now why would you want a tailgate up like this? Well it matches this shelf inside the bed so that you can have a piece of plywood that's not hanging completely off. This is only a 4 foot bed, which is pretty small. And it gets a little bit crowded up near the cab. So if you want something long, lumber, big long surfboard hanging out of the back, this is going to give you an extra shelf to lay it on. Now we haven't confirmed yet exactly what the weight capacity of this is. [MUSIC PLAYING] But the bed's weight capacity is 660 pounds. That's enough for plenty of camping totes, a couple of surfboards, and even your biggest cooler weighed down with food for the weekend. So let's wrap up back here by closing the bed and take a look at-- look at that-- lights on the tailgate. And Carlos, it's pretty light. I could do one finger I think. There's also some cool bedside steps, so you want to load some gear, you can. And come take a closer look down here. Easter eggs. I love a good Easter egg moment. Let's go find some more. There's one right here, there's one right here, and there's one right here. Now let's talk about power. Look, I'm in slow motion. From launch, Hyundai is going to have two engines available. The first is a naturally aspirated 2.5 liter, four cylinder engine. Puts out 190 horsepower and 180 pound feet of torque. And the optional engine is a 2.5 liter, four cylinder as well. But it's turbocharged to 275 horsepower. Considerably more. And it'll be paired with an eight speed, dual clutch transmission, a DCT which, to my mind, is a little bit weird. When I think DCT, I normally think sports cars, or at least something sporty with an AMG badge on it. Now I'm going to hold out all of my judgments obviously until I get behind the wheel, but it's definitely the one that I'm eager to test out. There's also going to be front and all-wheel drive available. And when it comes to towing, you can tow anywhere between 3,500 and 5,000 pounds max. Now there is an option to tow 5,000 pounds max if you have the right equipment on the truck, but there isn't a trailer brake controller available. So honestly, if you're starting to tow a trailer that really gets that big, you're probably going to want to get something larger than this anyways. So maybe the lack of a trailer brake controller isn't too bad, but you just can't get one. You're going to have to find one on the aftermarket. [MUSIC PLAYING] So here we are, the inside of the Santa Cruz. And from first glance, this is a really nice place to be. Hyundai has been stepping up their game when it comes to luxury interior appointments, and this, while it looks a little bit minimalist, also looks really fancy. I mean this is a great 10.25 inch center touchscreen. You got another 10.25 screen here instead of gauges. It's just a screen. The standard screen's 8 inch, but this one, the larger screen, comes with wireless car play, wireless Android auto. One thing, while this looks really nice, there's this row of buttons here, the climate control system and the audio system is all controlled through this kind of flat sheet of buttons. These aren't haptic feedback, but they're not really buttons either. It's all just one flat screen. I'm not sure how that's going to work in practice, but I like the way it looks, except for piano black. You also get stuff like a wireless charging pad. There's two USB ports up front, two in the back. Then you get stuff like heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, and there is a button here that says lock, which I can only assume is for locking the front and rear wheels together. There's not a traditional locker like you would find in something with four wheel drive. This has all-wheel drive, but that simulates it. There's also hill descent control and an auto hold button for if you're stopped in traffic or with a hill ahead of you. Then there's the safety features. There is a lot of stuff that comes standard on the Santa Cruz, but there are a lot of great options as well. So we're talking about features like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and then also just other great stuff like a drowsiness mode that will let you know that you're getting kind of tired on the road. There's also a mode that will warn you if you're going to open your door and there's someone coming like in traffic or a bicycle. So there are a lot of features that make this feel like a premium offering. Either way, this interior feels really nice, and there's plenty of room up here. I'm 5' 8", 5' 9" on a good day. I've got plenty of headroom here. Sunroof obviously. I could stick my head out of that if I wanted to. And now, let's move to the back seat and see what it's like when I'm sitting behind the seat set up for me. So before I get in, let's take a look at the under seat storage options. You've got your tire change kit back here. And then if you open up this side, there's just a big storage area down here for you to put your muddy shoes or whatever. Seat folds down, and then we can climb in. And there's plenty of space. Now the seat is a little bit upright. Doesn't recline obviously. Your right against the bed wall here. But sitting behind the seat position for myself, again 5' 8", 5' 9", I've got an inch or so of knee room here. And these seats have good concave backs so you're not banging up against the back there. There isn't however a center armrest here, so there's nothing for me to lean on. You do get the nice armrest over here. But again, piano black which we on the Edmunds YouTube channel have been harping against for quite some time now. It's going to get real greasy and ugly with those fast food fingers. SPEAKER 2: About piano black, you said greasy, didn't you? TRAVIS LANGNESS: Yeah. SPEAKER 2: What did you have for breakfast today? TRAVIS LANGNESS: I had a pizza for breakfast today and I don't appreciate you judging me for it. But there's not a lot more going on back here. A couple of vents, a couple of USB ports. It's a pretty nice rear seat for a truck that is almost a foot shorter than most mid-sizes, and plenty of headroom, easy to get in and out, and your kids will enjoy things back here, or even your adult friends. So it's got a somewhat spacious interior, lots of cool tech stuff, a big screen, good standard and optional safety features, and a pretty cool bed setup. Now sure, it doesn't have class-leading numbers, but is there even a class for this vehicle yet? Well I'm not quite sure about that yet. I think we're going to have to drive it really to find out, but I am really anxious to get behind the wheel. I want to know what this feels like on the road, and I want to see if it lives up to all the promises that Hyundai is making. For more information on the Santa Cruz and all of its upcoming competitors, click the link in the comments below, and let us know if you've got a favorite ute, favorite ute story, if you want me to stop saying ute, and go to edmunds.com/sellmycar to get a cash offer on your car, truck, or SUV today so you can get into something new.

Hyundai Santa Cruz First Look | Hyundai's First Pickup Truck Revealed | Price, Release Date & More

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz First Impressions

What is the Santa Cruz?

Pickup truck buyers are fiercely loyal. Just ask Honda, Nissan and Toyota, who have been trying to take a bite out of the domestics in the midsize and full-size markets for years with varying degrees of success. Hyundai thinks it has cracked the code with the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz — the automaker's first pickup for the U.S. market.

Details are scarce at the moment, but we believe the Santa Cruz will share a basic platform with the Santa Fe crossover. That means a unibody construction similar to that of the Honda Ridgeline, which offers a more comfortable ride and roomier interior than its midsize rivals.

We don't know which powertrains Hyundai will offer, but a look at the Santa Fe's lineup offers some clues. That SUV's upgraded turbocharged four-cylinder is a given, but another four-cylinder might also be in the mix. The Santa Fe's naturally aspirated motor would lower the price and compete against budget offerings from the GMC Canyon, Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma. Hyundai could also bring over the Santa Fe's hybrid powertrain, which would make the Santa Cruz unique in its class.

EdmundsEdmunds says

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is an intriguing new truck that will offer the ride comfort of an SUV with the utility of a pickup. It might appeal to you if you don't have high towing and hauling needs but still want something that's more utility-oriented than a regular SUV. Sure, Hyundai is calling it an SAV instead of a truck, and that's cool, but we're gonna call a spade a spade. The new Santa Cruz comes out this summer and should start around $35,000. Check back in the coming months for additional information, driving impressions and our eventual full Edmunds Expert Rating evaluation.