The Hyundai Santa Cruz represents a new, interesting direction for the once little Korean manufacturer. Meek and unassuming at the start, Hyundai has, in recent years, turned the automotive market on its head, with strong offerings from its main line vehicles. But especially its luxury branch, Genesis. Always high on value, with warranty packages that give peace of mind like no other out there. Now, with the brand new Santa Cruz, Hyundai dips its toe in the pickup truck market. Sort of.
The Santa Cruz uses a unit-body constructions, similar to the Honda Ridgeline. First impressions may confuse and confound. It doesn’t exactly look like a traditional pickup truck. Not even of the smaller variety like the Toyota Tacoma or Chevy Colorado. For starters, the bed is extremely short, almost so short as to render it not very usable in most pickup truck scenarios. It also follows a very different design direction than the tough and typical pickup truck. More modern and quasi crossover looking.
Perspective emerges when one understands the intention behind the Santa Cruz. Hyundai has pitched it as a “Sport Adventure Vehicle.” Not so much a big, brawny work-horse, and more the perfect companion for a good camping trip, or backpacking adventure. A kind of crossover SUV with good ground clearance and a small truck bed. When viewed through this lense, the Santa Cruz makes much more sense. Easy around town, with four doors, and a comfortable SUV-like cabin with some small-truck utility. Full-time AWD as an option, and the ability to tow 5,000 pounds if the need arises. Everything combined with a modern look and feel.
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz will no doubt be met with mixed emotions. When trying to fit this odd-shaped peg into a pickup truck sized hole, it simply wont work. But when viewed in the way Hyundai has intended, as a small truck hybrid adventure vehicle, the Santa Crux is satisfying a niche in the market many didn’t even realize was there. Within this very tight niche, it actually makes a lot of sense and is quite good.
Price as tested: $41,140.00