2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Preview

Jack R. Nerad | Apr 15, 2021
  • Segment-buster that combines compact SUV attributes with an open cargo bed
  • Significant amount of secure, lockable storage in bed
  • 190-horsepower 4-cylinder or 275-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder
  • Front-wheel or all-wheel-drive
  • Standard wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto
  • Expect 2022 Santa Cruz prices to finalize from the mid-$20,000 range to around $40,000. 
  • Deliveries should begin in late summer of 2021

Hyundai has officially unveiled the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz compact pickup, the first truly small pickup truck available to Americans in years. 

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Front Quarter View

Based on the same platform as the redesigned Hyundai Tucson compact crossover SUV, the new 2022 Santa Cruz comes with four doors, 5-passenger capacity, and seating accommodations similar to those in the Tucson. But instead of a covered cargo area, the Santa Cruz has a 4-foot cargo bed with an under-bed trunk and a secure, locking tonneau cover. 

The new Santa Cruz will offer a choice between two 4-cylinder powertrains and front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The standard 4-cylinder will team with an 8-speed automatic transmission, while the available turbocharged engine pairs with an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). 

Exterior Features - Find the best Hyundai deals!

Hyundai calls the 2022 Santa Cruz a "Sport Adventure Vehicle" designed for young urbanites with an active lifestyle. Wearing a mash-up of crossover SUV, pickup truck, and sports car design elements, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is attractive and expressive, and features daytime running lights that give the vehicle a unique light signature. 

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Rear Quarter

The rear end has a light signature of its own with horizontal T-shaped lights that accentuate the tall tailgate. The taillights are emblazoned with a "Designed in California" legend that depicts the fact the Santa Cruz was conceived of and designed by Hyundai's California design studio. The standard 20-inch alloy wheels reflect the SoCal styling influence.

The Santa Cruz's roofline has a swoopy lilt and works well with its exaggerated, muscular fenders. Significantly shorter in overall length than the typical midsize pickup truck, the Santa Cruz should prove easy to maneuver with a tight turning circle. 

Interior Features - Find the best Hyundai deals!

Clean and attractively designed, the Santa Cruz’s interior looks as nice as what you’d find in many luxury sedans. The dashboard is mounted low and designed to emphasize width, giving a feeling of openness to the cockpit. The vents extend across the dashboard in a seamless, unobtrusive fashion. Hyundai promises the airflow from the vents will be gentler and less troublesome than from traditional vents.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Interior Dashboard

Most trim levels include twin 10-inch displays: one for instrumentation and one for infotainment. The brightness and clarity of the configurable instrumentation screen means Hyundai could forego the traditional glare-reducing hood over the panel.

Seating for five is more than ample. The individual seats are supportive and well-appointed, while the rear seat is sufficient for three adults. An open area under the rear seats provides additional in-cabin storage.

Under the Hood - Find the best Hyundai deals!

The Hyundai Santa Cruz will offer two powertrain options. Interestingly, they differ from the 2022 Hyundai Tucson on which the Santa Cruz is based, drawing from the Sonata sedan’s engine lineup instead. 

The standard engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder delivering an estimated 190 horsepower and 180 lb.-ft. of torque. It uses a conventional 8-speed automatic transmission to power the front or all four wheels.

The optional engine is a turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, supplying an estimated 275 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. It uses an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT) with paddle shifters, which provide manual control over gear changes. Whether equipped with front-wheel or all-wheel drive, the turbocharged Santa Cruz should supply vibrant performance.

Hyundai's multi-mode HTRAC AWD system includes electronic active torque control to both the front and rear axles. A Sport setting sends a high proportion of torque to the rear wheels for a more dynamic driving experience. The AWD system is also a boon for those who tow, offering 3,500 pounds of trailering capacity with the normally aspirated engine and 5,000 lbs. with the turbo.

Safety Systems - Find the best Hyundai deals!

Thanks to its standard Hyundai SmartSense collection of standard advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), every Santa Cruz includes forward-collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, a junction-turning assistance feature, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, and a driver monitoring system. 

An even longer list of safety technologies is available, such as blind-spot warning with collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic warning, a surround-view camera, and Safe Exit Assist. Optional adaptive cruise control helps the driver maintain a safe distance between the Santa Cruz and traffic ahead, while Highway Driving Assist pairs adapive cruise control with lane-centering for more relaxed highway driving.

Infotainment and Technology - Find the best Hyundai deals!

To court sophisticated urbanites, the Santa Cruz provides plenty of technology. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard with the base model's 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and wireless smartphone charging is an option. A 10-inch infotainment system is standard for most Santa Cruz trim levels, with a Bose premium audio system and navigation available as upgrades.

Blue Link connected services are complimentary for three years, and include remote engine starting, remote door lock access, and automatic collision notification, among other functions. Owners can even control some Blue Link features via Android Wear and Apple Watch apps.

The Santa Cruz also offers technology outside the car. Hyundai's Digital Key turns an Android smartphone into a the truck’s key. Owners can unlock, start, and drive the truck using nothing but their phone. Users can also lend "virtual keys" to others with the Digital Key app.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Competitors - Find the best Hyundai deals!

Hyundai says the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has no direct competitors, and it is hard to argue that point. The only other small truck on the horizon is the new 2022 Ford Maverick. Otherwise, Santa Cruz alternatives include larger midsize pickups, and among them the Honda Ridgeline is the closest in terms of philosophy and execution. 

It appears that Hyundai has found some "white space," a void in the American automotive market currently untapped by competitive products. What remains to be seen is if the American public will respond to this attractively styled, fully featured small truck based on a compact SUV.

Hyundai Motor America is the source of information in this article. It was accurate as of April 15, 2021 but it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker's website or your local dealership.

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