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Hyundai Introduces the Santa Cruz SAV

Jesse McGraw

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is not quite a truck, but can’t be classified as a ute. It’s a whole new body style in between – a Sport Adventure Vehicle.

Hyundai is Entering the Truck Market – Well Kinda

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundainews.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundainews.com

Hyundai unveiled its latest model addition to their lineup and it has a tailgate attached to a truck bed, but it’s not being called a truck. So, utes like the El Camino and Baja are making a comeback then? Still, sadly, no. Instead, Hyundai gave us the highly stylized and all-new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, which they categorize as a Sports Adventure Vehicle. That body style naming seems fitting for the compact truck-like design, because that short bed isn’t made for hauling work equipment or moving a couch.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundainews.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundainews.com

The Santa Cruz is better suited for those with hobbies like scuba diving, rock climbing, or just going hiking. Just enough room for a cooler and some hobby gear in the bed portion, while the cab carries enough seating for you and your buddies. I personally am putting this one up on my potential next vehicle list, because this setup looks great for when I head out to the paintball fields and the “Parametric Dynamic” exterior design is pretty nice looking in my opinion. There’s a lot more than just its interesting design though, so let’s dive in on what the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has to offer.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Specs

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundainews.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundainews.com

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz will be riding on the same unibody platform and sharing a lot of the same mechanical components as the 2022 Hyundai Tucson crossover, since that’s basically what it is. The Santa Cruz is essentially a Tucson that had a truck bed swapped in for the rear cargo area. It looks like Hyundai basically took a page from Ford’s book with all the rumors surrounding the development of the Maverick, but beat them to the punch for release.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.4L turbocharged I4 engine - hyundainews.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.4L turbocharged I4 engine - hyundainews.com

Under the hood, you have the standard option of a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine that should make 190 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, or a 2.5-liter turbocharged I4 engine that looks to make somewhere around 275 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Both of these engines will be paired to a smooth 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system is standard.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundainews.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundainews.com

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz may be a Sport Adventure Vehicle, but it’ll still be expected to tow some weekend warrior toys like a truck would. The standard 2.5-liter engine will provide a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs and the 2.5-liter turbocharged engine will provide a towing capacity of 5,000 lbs. Not quite enough towing power for a full-sized camper trailer, but just enough for pulling around a UTV, jet skis, or a fishing boat.

A Similar Interior and Some Nifty Storage

The interior of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz takes a lot of the 2022 Tucson’s design elements and features. Similar seat setup, similar door panels, and the same modern dashboard setup from the Tucson as well. The main noticeable difference in the interior is that those rear seats lost a bit of legroom to get some extra inches out of the rear bed. However, lifting those rear seats reveals some added storage underneath them fit for tools, sunglasses, shoes, or whatever you want to keep there.

Speaking of that compact bed, it measures out to be about 4 ½ feet long by 4 feet wide. That’ll be the smallest bed available on the market. The only vehicle in “recent years” to have a smaller bed was the Subaru Baja (may it rest in peace). Under that small bed is a handy underfloor storage compartment to keep certain things hidden or separate some unpleasant smelling gear after a day of play.

Technology Features We Can Expect

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz infotainment - hyundainews.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz infotainment - hyundainews.com

Being Hyundai, we’re going to get a lot of great entertainment and safety tech options right out of the gate. The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz will offer a large 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a completely digital gauge cluster. There will also a be a Bose audio system around the vehicle providing a great sound.

On the safety side of things, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz will come with lane-keeping assist, forward collision-avoidance, blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, and even a surround view monitor. However, that’s just a sampling of what to expect from Hyundai who have been known to provide buyers with almost every safety feature they can at any trim level.

Are You Ready for Sport Adventure Vehicles?

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundainews.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundainews.com

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a unique vehicle offering that hits a niche of youthful adventure seekers and weekend warriors who don’t need the full capabilities of a truck, but still like the utility of a truck bed. The exterior design is cool looking, it’s built with all the interior and performance innovations from the Tucson, it’s full of all that Hyundai tech right out of the gate, and its size makes it great for city use while still having the capability to venture into the wilderness. Hyundai seems like it’s doing everything right so far to get this new idea off the ground, but only time will tell if it can find its audience.

These Sport Adventure Vehicles could be an emerging automotive trend we see for the next couple of years with the Santa Cruz and rumored Maverick coming out. So, are you ready to get your hands on a SAV? Or is this just another short-lived, gimmicky automotive segment?

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Jesse McGraw
Jesse McGraw

Jesse's life-long car obsession began when he started collecting Hot Wheels as a child. He’s constantly keeping up with the latest car news and diving deep into automotive history. His automotive journey began with a rusty ‘99 Dodge Dakota held together by zip ties, only recently replaced by an impeccable 2014 Kia Soul. You can find him modifying and racing cars in video games when he’s not playing paintball or writing about cars.

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