2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz redefines compact pickup segment
Hyundai finally makes its way into the pickup segment with the new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz. Instead of taking the big, brawny major players of the segment head-on, the Santa Cruz plays it safe by jumping into a compact category that has almost no players to lock horns with.
Hyundai prefers calling the Santa Cruz a Sport Adventure Vehicle. But unlike most pickups out there, the Santa Cruz adopts a monocoque construction instead of a ladder-frame chassis. With this road-focused body, the Santa Cruz should be more comfort-oriented than the major players like the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara or the Toyota Tacoma, all of which are considerably larger and play in a different segment. The only vehicle that can be compared to the Santa Cruz is the Honda Ridgeline available in the United States but even that is bigger. The only competition Santa Cruz should face is from the upcoming Ford Maverick, another compact pickup truck.
If Hyundai chooses to not call Santa Cruz a pickup truck, they have done some work to make it not look like one. The front end is similar to the new Tucson with the large dark chrome grill and the LED lights integrated into it. There are sharp creases all around the body and they extend onto the pickup’s business end, integrating the bed neatly with the body. The rear is also well designed with tail lamps extending onto the tailgate. The sleek design is unknown to the pickup segment, usually home to butch machinery, but the Santa Cruz brings fresh air to the segment.
The cargo bed of the Santa Cruz is not that large, compared to its larger rivals. But, it still gets some clever tricks up its sleeve to make the most out of it. There is another storage space under the bed, complete with a drain plug. An optional retracting tonneau cover sits on top and it can hold up to 100 kg. There is a power port and several points to tie down your cargo. There are steps carved into the rear bumper.
Comfort is one of the priorities of the Hyundai Santa Cruz hence the interior is well-appointed, like most Hyundais. It comes with a modern dashboard design, a sunroof and optional ventilated/heated leather seats. There is an eight-inch infotainment screen as standard but a 10-inch display is present in the options list. The infotainment system brings in wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Wireless charging and more. There is also a “Lock” button near the gear lever which must hint at some electronic trickery based on the ESP as it gets an AWD system that cannot support traditional differential locks.
The safety suite of the Hyundai Santa Cruz is also extensive. It gets Driver Attention Warning, Forward Collision Assistance with pedestrian and cyclist detection and lane-keeping assist as standard. Throw in a bit more money, a blind-spot camera, rear-cross traffic collision avoidance, surround-view monitor, adaptive cruise control and a safe exit assist system will all be poured into the package.
Under the rather edgy hood, the Hyundai Santa Cruz offers two engine choices. As standard, it gets a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine that furnishes 190 hp and 244 Nm of torque. This comes hooked up to an eight-speed automatic with either front or all-wheel-drive.
There is an optional engine too, a 2.5-litre turbocharged unit, churning out more than 275 hp and 420 Nm. This potent mill comes married to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters, doing justice to its Sport Adventure Vehicle tag. All-wheel-drive is standard on this model.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz enters a segment that is currently non-existent maybe everywhere except in South America. It does not try to be an outright pickup truck. It is basically a daily-use crossover with a pickup bed. It remains to be seen if this North American offering makes it to the UAE and GCC.