2022 Ford Maverick vs 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz: Compare Trucks

October 5, 2021

The 2022 Ford Maverick and 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz resurrect a small truck segment that had been dormant for more than a decade. Both of these crossover-based vehicles give shoppers an open bed and a more adventurous edge than compact crossover SUVs that fill roads like construction zones in summertime. 

Despite their similarities—seating for five, compact crossover platforms, available all-wheel drive, turbo-4 engine options, towing capacity of at least 4,000 lb—the Santa Cruz and Maverick appeal as urban getaway vehicles in completely different ways. As the maker of the bestselling F-150, Ford knows what truck shoppers want. Hyundai positions the Santa Cruz as more of a sport utility vehicle with a bed. Those positions check out, as we’ve found after our initial back to back drives with both.

Both are exceedingly clever tricks to get drivers out of mammoth trucks and into fuel-saving trucklets—it’s like putting the dog’s medication in a chunk of cheese. Everybody wins. But which one wins here? It’s close, but not that close. And in a first for truck compares, it comes down to fuel economy.

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

The Maverick comes standard with a hybrid powertrain but only with front-wheel drive. The 2.5-liter inline-4 hybrid makes 191 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque and has a towing capacity of 2,000 lb. It doesn’t strain to pull a trailer with a riding lawn mower, but a full load of mulch and a driver tax its moderate acceleration—and no doubt its estimated 40 mpg city and 37 mpg combined gas mileage.

For more power and available all-wheel drive, Ford offers a 250-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 on the Maverick. It can tow up to 4,000 lb, but its 8-speed automatic doesn’t shift as smoothly as we’d like. The Maverick’s smart suspension tuning and hefty steering are carlike both in feel and in technical description, since most of its running gear’s on loan from the Bronco Sport and Escape.

Hyundai equips the Santa Cruz with more potent but less efficient powertrain choices. The standard 2.5-liter inline-4 makes 190 hp and 180 lb-ft, and with an 8-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, it can tow up to 3,500 lb. With available all-wheel drive, it gets an EPA-rated 21 mpg city, 27 highway, 23 combined, which is more efficient on the highway than with front-wheel drive.

An available 2.5-liter turbo-4 puts out 275 hp and 310 lb-ft, and with available all-wheel drive, it can tow 5,000 lb. More tow-ready, the Santa Cruz carries a ride and handling edge over the Maverick, too. Both are magnitudes better than live-axle trucks, but the Santa Cruz turbo surges effortlessly through traffic and tackles corners flat, with none of the juddery shifts of Ford’s 8-speed automatic.

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz evokes the Subaru Baja from 15 years ago in that it lacks any pickup truck pretensions except for the small bed and standard 18-inch wheels. Sharing a platform with the redesigned 2022 Hyundai Tucson compact crossover, it could be mistaken for the Tucson at the front. Black cladding runs down the body to the rear, where hatchet-shaped taillights frame a pronounced tailgate that sits over integrated bumper steps, like those in a Chevy Colorado. 

Specs favor the Santa Cruz for some truck duty, but the 2022 Ford Maverick nails the look, even though it shares a platform with the Ford Escape and Ford Bronco Sport. A bar across the grille of the vertical front end distinguishes the Maverick, but the round wheel arches housing 17-inch steel wheels, the square ends, and the flat sides follow the lineage of Ford’s truck design through the Ranger to the F-150. Though smaller than a Ford Explorer Sport Trac, it looks like a successor to that SUV. 

While both small trucks are over a foot shorter in length than mid-size trucks such as the Colorado or Honda Ridgeline, the Santa Cruz is even smaller than the Maverick. At 195.7 inches long, it’s 4.0 inches shorter, rides 2.0 inches lower, and is nearly 3.0 inches narrower than the Maverick. It’s still friendly to four adults, but its front seats can pinch large drivers across the seat bottom; back-seat drivers won’t have any trouble finding comfort. Much the same holds true for the Maverick, but its base seats are softer and more forgiving, and its taller doors make it easier to clamber in and belt up. 

The Maverick's cab is larger than either of Ford's compact crossovers, and the 36.9 inches of rear leg room on the turbo-4 model is 2.4 inches more than the Ford Ranger with a crew cab. Rear leg room in the Santa Cruz measures up at 36.5 inches, and it has one cubic foot more of passenger volume. We stacked two 6-foot-4 passengers front to back in the Maverick, but the rear passenger's knees were splayed out. Neither of these vehicles will fit five adults in comfort.

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

2022 Ford Maverick

The Maverick's 4.5-foot-long pickup bed is larger and more versatile (it’s as long as the Rivian R1T bed, in fact). With dual covered bins and up to 10 tie-downs, as well as available bed lighting and aluminum rails, the Maverick mimics the beds of its bigger cousins. An adjustable tailgate capable of holding up to 400 lb can be rigged to tote 4x8 sheets of plywood without a bed extender, Ford says, and two mountain bikes can slot into the bed with their front wheels angled. Inside, flip-up rear seats conceal even more storage areas.

The Santa Cruz also embraces underseat storage, but the bed is more limited than the Maverick’s. It’s longer at the bottom than the top, which measures out to 48.4 inches. A built-in tonneau cover and hidden bed storage with a drain plug offer a different level of security. Hyundai promises a sliding rear window from the cab to the bed. 

Both trucks come with a 110-volt AC outlet in the bed, and 8.6 inches of ground clearance in all-wheel-drive versions. The short overhangs lead to good approach and departure angles for both, but the shorter bed makes for a better departure angle on the Santa Cruz at 23.2 degrees. With either truck, short bed walls make for easy access to content inside the bed when standing outside of the truck, and about 30 inches of lift-in height makes it possible for dogs of various sizes and ages to happily jump in without assistance. Only Ford offers an off-road-specific package of tires and underbody protection, with specific drive modes for Sand and Mud/Ruts.

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

Hyundai equips the Santa Cruz with more standard features and a starting price of $25,175, including destination. The Limited tops the lineup at $40,905. The base Maverick XL costs $21,490, including the $1,495 destination charge, and tops out at $34,170 in Lariat trim with the uprated engine. That’s a steal, especially in the base model. Both vehicles come with standard automatic emergency braking and an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the Santa Cruz doesn’t require a wire. 

On paper, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz doesn’t measure up to the size or efficiency of the 2022 Ford Maverick, but it offers more capability and an expected degree of sportiness. Both small trucks are a welcome antidote to anodyne crossovers everywhere—but here, the Maverick’s TCC Rating of 7.0 handily outpoints that of the Santa Cruz at 6.4 out of 10. It’s all due to the Maverick’s standard hybrid drivetrain, one of dozens of clever tricks it pulls out of its utility belt. The Maverick’s a winner on a few fronts, with gas mileage and value at the very front of the pack.


Summary

6.7
Expert Rating
Putting the fun in functional, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz combines the utility of a truck with the ride quality of a crossover.
7.0
Expert Rating
The 2022 Ford Maverick recasts the pickup as a small, high-efficiency Swiss Army knife.

Styling

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2022 Santa Cruz is a cure for the common crossover.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The Maverick stands out in a class that’s all too similar.
Read More

Performance

6.0
Expert Rating
The 2022 Santa Cruz rides like a crossover but handles with more sport.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The Maverick—no surprise here—has uncommonly car-like performance.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

7.0
Expert Rating
The 2022 Santa Cruz has the versatility of a pickup with the comfort of a crossover.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The Maverick maxes out with utility.
Read More

Safety

8.0
Expert Rating
The Santa Cruz awaits official crash-test ratings.
Read More
The data’s not in yet for the new Maverick.
Read More

Features

8.0
Expert Rating
Good base features and a better warranty acquit the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The Maverick’s bed offers a world of possibility, all for a price.
Read More

Fuel Economy

4.0
Expert Rating
The lack of a hybrid option limits efficiency in the Santa Cruz.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
The Maverick hits a base-model fuel-economy home run.
Read More

MSRP

from $23,990
from $19,995

Invoice

from $23,405
from $19,595

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

23
25

Engine

Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
All Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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