Car Review: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a new breed of smaller trucks hitting the market

Ford is not the only game in town for small pickup trucks with the addition of an interesting new offering from Hyundai.

The new Santa Cruz is a modern, stylish take on a small truck with a new front end that will have you wondering where the headlights are. The usual, large headlight clusters are gone thanks to LED lighting. They now blend into the larger front grill that dominates the look. You will also notice that there is no separate bed like in most trucks, so the curves and sleek lines continue down the entire body of the Santa Cruz. While the look is cool, the cargo bed is not as large as the other small trucks. Still, I appreciate the easy-to-use, lockable, sliding cargo cover.

Slide behind the wheel of the Santa Cruz and it gives you SUV vibes in look and layout. The Limited trim level I drove came packed with creature comforts like heated and ventilated, leather trimmed seats and a heated steering wheel. Like others today, Hyundai has replaced the normal gauges with a 10.25-inch, digital instrument cluster. The central screen is a large, 10.25-inch touchscreen with quick response and improved graphics compared to the Hyundai system from just a year or so ago.

Driving the Santa Cruz is much more similar to an SUV or crossover and less truck like. The size of the Hyundai makes it very easy to maneuver in tight spaces or drive on narrower city streets without worry. Plenty of power from the four-cylinder turbo engine helps you keep up with traffic. I filled the seats and the cargo bed and the Santa Cruz had plenty of power to spare. The ride is also very forgiving for a truck.

Cost: $39,720; as tested $41,500

MPG: 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway; I managed 23.1 mpg in 396 miles of mixed driving.

Safety: Forward collision-avoidance assist; safe exit assist; blind-spot collision avoidance assist; lane keeping assist; high beam assist; blind view monitor; smart cruise control with stop & go; surround view monitor; driver attention warning; ultrasonic rear occupant alert; parking distance warning reverse; remote smart park assist

Options: $195 Carpeted floor; $400 Sage Gray paint; $1,185 inland freight & handling

Things to know: The new Santa Cruz is for buyers looking for a truck but without the large size or expense of larger truck.


  • New smaller truck that combines the comfort of crossover with the added utility of a cargo bed
  • Comes packed with safety equipment and technology
  • 5L turbo engine adds a lot of power


  • Not a very large rear cargo bed when compared to other small trucks
  • Would not want to venture off-road with this small truck
  • Fuel economy suffers with powerful turbo engine
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