There has been lots of discussion about a Hyundai pickup truck over the years. But the South Korean automaker recently debuted its all-new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz compact truck into a market that seemingly can’t get enough pickups. And although Hyundai calls the Santa Cruz a "Sport Adventure Vehicle", we think it's more accurate to call it a compact 4-door SUV with a small pickup bed.
Says Hyundai’s U.S. boss Jose Munoz: “Santa Cruz, with its bold styling, breaks open an all-new segment territory, both for Hyundai and the industry as a whole. Open-bed flexibility coupled with closed-cabin security meets the ever-changing everyday needs of its adventure-oriented buyers, while powerful and efficient engines and superb maneuverability ensure it is a pleasure to drive in urban or off-road environments.”
The North American market hasn’t had a small 4-door SUV-like pickup since the Ford Explorer SUV-based 2001 to 2010 Sport Trac or the Subaru Outback-based 2003 to 2006 Baja.
We see the new 2022 Santa Cruz as Hyundai’s version of the mid-size Honda Pilot SUV-based Ridgeline pickup truck. Heavily based on the all-new 2022 Hyundai Tucson compact SUV, the 2022 Santa Cruz is a more compact vehicle than the Ridgeline that’s easier around town and almost certainly more fuel-efficient. The Santa Cruz blends the 4-door cabin of the Tucson with the utility of a short but handy truck bed. As a uni-body design, the new Santa Cruz has no visible seam between its cab and bed, making it look as if it's one solid piece of metal.
The Santa Cruz’s smaller packaging could serve the needs of someone who wants a truck that’s less expensive than a mid-size pickup and easier to park in a garage. As such, the Santa Cruz is in a class of one. Or at least until the Ford Escape/Bronco Sport SUV-based Maverick compact pickup truck arrives sometime in the near future.
In front, the Santa Cruz’s bold grille uses hidden lighting, similar to that of the Sonata and new Tucson. There are daytime running lights and a skid-plate feature at the bottom of the front fascia. Eighteen- and 20-inch wheels will be available.
The Hyundai pickup’s bed is 48 inches (1,219 millimetres) long, with an adjustable tailgate that allows you to carry longer items securely. Like the Ridgeline, taking advantage of its uni-body construction, the Hyundai truck’s bed has underfloor storage with a drain plug, so you can use it as a cooler when at a BBQ or camping. There are tie-down points and cleats, and a lockable retractable tonneau cover is available. There are also spots moulded into the bedsides that let you create a 2-tier storage shelf. And access is easy, thanks to three integrated bumper steps.
While the 2022 Hyundai Tucson compact SUV will be offered with a choice of three engines (187-horsepower 2.5-litre 4-cylinder; 227-horsepower 1.6-litre gas-electric hybrid; and 261-horsepower plug-in electric version of the 1.6 unit), the Santa Cruz gets a 2.5-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 281 horsepower attached to an 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is standard, as is a 5,000-pound (2,268-kilogram) towing capacity.
We think the new Santa Cruz is sized just right—large enough to have a comfortable 5-seat compact-SUV cabin plus a handy (but small) bed. Popular mid-size pickups like the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon, and Ford Ranger have grown so large that we think the time is ripe for a new vehicle to slot in below these proven players.
What’s the same?
As mentioned, the new Santa Cruz is based on a longer and wider version of the new Tucson platform. From what we’ve seen so far, the new Santa Cruz interior has the same refinement and modern style as other contemporary Hyundais, like the Elantra, Sonata, Santa Fe, and Palisade. The main center stack houses a 10.25-inch infotainment screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity come standard.
We anticipate front-seat space will be similar to that of a compact SUV, but the rear seats look slightly smaller. Legroom there should be closer to that of a subcompact SUV. The rear seats recline. They also fold up, making room for more oversized cargo and revealing clever under-seat storage.
When will it go on sale?
Hyundai Canada says the new 2022 Santa Cruz will arrive at dealerships sometime this summer.
How much will it cost?
Official pricing for the new Hyundai compact pickup has not been released yet.