2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz fills the gap between pickup trucks and cars

Sometimes you want a pickup truck but need an SUV yet don't have room for both. The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz aims to bridge the gap between wants and needs. 

Hyundai debuted the much-anticipated production version of its "sport adventure vehicle" on Thursday, more than six years removed from when the concept wowed the crowd at the Detroit auto show in 2015. 

The low-slung four-door pickup based on the 2022 Hyundai Tucson crossover SUV fills the vacuum created when the Subaru Baja left the market in 2006. The unibody utility vehicle with a small bed is more than a foot shorter in length than the Honda Ridgeline, and a few inches shorter in height. At 195.7 inches, it's a few inches longer than the Subaru Outback and its wheelbase stretches 10 inches longer than the Tucson. 

It shares the face of the redesigned Tucson, too, with a grille stepped like a climbing wall that conceals daytime running lights that boomerang out to the corners. The headlights sit low above a heavily clad front bumper and front skid plate. The profile features round wheel arches and 18-inch wheels or available 20-inch wheels in a star pattern, and the tasteful cladding runs down the rockers to the rear where the Santa Cruz really makes its mark. 

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

The rear bumper features corner steps like the Chevy Colorado, and the name stamped in bold on the base of the tailgate evokes toy Tonka trucks of yore. The taillights bulge in hatchet shapes around the corners and flipping the gate down reveals a bed that is not a box. The upper half is shorter than the lower half, measuring 48.4 inches up top and 52.1 inches at the bottom. That's at least a half foot shorter than other mid-size pickup trucks. A lockable tonneau cover and an underfloor storage bin with a drain plug make up for the bed's shortcomings, and a 110-volt outlet gives accessories a charge. The bed can carry up to 660 pounds, but with passengers and gear the payload reaches 1,700 pounds. 

Clever storage spaces occupy the inside as well, with a 60/40-split rear seat that can be flipped up to access a seat-length storage well. An 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto fills out base models, but an available frameless 10.3-inch touchscreen can be had on higher trims. Production versions will have a sliding rear window. Hyundai will disclose specific features, trims, and interior dimensions closer to the summer on-sale date. 

The Santa Cruz cribs as much from the Tucson as it does from Hyundai's N series of performance vehicles. The standard engine is a 2.5-liter inline-4 that makes 190 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. It uses an 8-speed automatic with front-wheel drive, same as in the 2022 Tucson. The base Santa Cruz can tow 3,500 pounds. 

The uprated engine is a 2.5-liter turbo-4 making an estimated 275 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. It pairs to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic used in Hyundai’s performance N variants but with different tuning. With available all-wheel drive, it can tow 5,000 pounds. 

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

The HTrac all-wheel-drive system comes with a center locking differential that splits the torque between the front and rear axles. If the driver doesn’t press the locker for low speed off-roading, the system automatically adjusts torque between the axles based on conditions and driver inputs. Drivers can choose from Sport, Normal, and Smart drive modes, and Sport sends up to 50% of the torque to the rear wheels. When cruising, however, most of the torque goes to the front wheels for efficiency.

Fuel economy numbers haven't been released, but the Santa Cruz should be able to escape urban environs for the trailheads with a degree of efficiency and fun. Its short overhangs should help when the pavement ends and the overlanding begins. It has a Subaru-like 8.6 inches of ground clearance, a breakover angle of 18.6 degrees and approach and departure angles of 17.5 and 23.2 degrees, respectively.

Standard on every Santa Cruz is automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and active lane control. Options such as blind-spot monitors, blind-spot cameras, and surround-view cameras will help get your bearings on the trail or when slipping into that parallel parking spot. 

Another grounding force for the Santa Cruz is Hyundai's exceptional warranty, including a 5-year/60,000-mile limited warranty, a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, and 3 years/36,000 miles of complimentary oil changes and tire rotations. 

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz goes on sale this summer, with reservations opening up in late April. 

Comments are closed.