Hyundai Santa Cruz Research

The Car Connection Hyundai Santa Cruz Overview

The Hyundai Santa Cruz combines the open bed of a pickup truck with the roominess of a crossover and the maneuverability of a hatchback. The off-road adventure vehicle makes for an easy urban getaway vehicle. 

The Santa Cruz rivals the mid-size Honda Ridgeline, yet the Subaru Outback might get jealous of this modern take on the Subaru Baja from the early aughts.

MORE: Read our 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz preview

The Santa Cruz shares a platform and unibody design with the Hyundai Tucson compact crossover SUV. It wears a few similar design cues, such as a stepped grille with integrated daytime running lights that expand like wings to the corners of the face. The headlights sit below, and a skid plate lurks beneath the cladding that wraps around the wheels to the rear tailgate and open bed.

A lockable tonneau cover and hidden floor box with a drain plug help the Santa Cruz overcome the shortcomings of its bed, which at 4.3 feet is nearly a foot shorter than the competition. The Santa Cruz is made more for getting out of the city and to the trailhead than conquering what lies beyond. 

Shoppers choose between a 190-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 with an 8-speed automatic and front-wheel drive or an upgraded 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 and, with available all-wheel drive, it tows up to 5,000 pounds. 

A locking center differential sends half the torque to the rear axle, and a ground clearance of 8.6 inches promises at least moderate off-road capability. The compact dimensions and relatively low overall height, as well as a Sport mode, could make the Santa Cruz more fun on the road than off it. 

Standard features include an 8.0-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and driver-assist features such as automatic emergency braking and active lane control. A slew of advanced safety features such as blind-spot cameras and tech upgrades are available, such as a 10.3-inch touchscreen and 10.0-inch digital instrument cluster. Connected car tech includes a 3-year Blue Link subscription that lets users remote start and condition the car, as well as lock and unlock doors and track its whereabouts if stolen or if you’ve confused it for that Baja in the beach parking lot. 

Every Santa Cruz comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty with three years/36,000 miles of complimentary oil changes and tire rotations.

Built in Montgomery, Alabama, the Hyundai Santa Cruz goes on sale in summer of 2021. 

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