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2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz: A New Ute

Fans of funky automotive mashups will love the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz with its car-meets-pickup-truck adventure focused mission statement and bold design.

What’s New for the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is an all-new vehicle, and market segment, for the Korean automaker. A unibody SUV platform with a 4 foot long, pickup bed hanging off the back, the new Santa Cruz enters an uncrowded niche populated by the Honda Ridgeline and incoming Ford Maverick. Targeted at owners looking to get off the beaten path on the weekend, the Santa Cruz combines the comfort of their well-regarded crossovers with the utility of a pickup truck bed. Hyundai calls it a “Sport Adventure Vehicle” and with available all-wheel drive, it should deliver on that description. At the moment, the Santa Cruz is currently in reservation mode, with dealer delivery expected this summer.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundainews.com

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz – hyundainews.com |  Shop 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz on Carsforsale.com

Body Style

Starting Price

MSRP $23,990

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

FWD or AWD

Drivetrain

Fuel Economy

21 City / 27 Hwy (MPG)

Number of Seats

Seating

Seats 5

The Breakdown

Truck utility with the drivability of a car

Features like climate-controlled seating offered

Optional turbocharged motor adds sportiness

Nearly a dozen driver-assistance systems

This vehicle type desirability remains to be seen

Offers utility and unique looks

2022 Santa Cruz Specs

Trims & Pricing

SE - $23,990
SEL - $27,190
SEL Premium - $35,680
Limited - $39,720

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Powertrain

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5L I4 Turbo - hyundainews.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5L I4 Turbo - hyundainews.com

The base 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz powertrain consists of a 191 hp, naturally aspirated inline-4 mated to a conventional 8-speed automatic. Its 181 lb-ft of torque is run to the front wheels which sit on 18” rubber. Higher end models will offer a direct injected, turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder motor making 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. The transmission for this engine also has eight gears, but uses a dual-clutch setup.

Steering-wheel mounted shifter paddles add an element of sportiness to the bigger power plant and the HTRAC AWD system, with its torque-vectoring ability, should serve to limit the inevitable torque steer of such a punchy motor. When conditions necessitate, the driver can electronically lock the center differential for added traction. Four-corner independent suspension ensure carlike handling regardless of powertrain configuration.

Towing & Payload

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

Every 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz features a tow hitch, pre-wired for a trailer and heavy-duty transmission oil cooler. 3,500 pounds is the towing max for the base motor, while an AWD model with the turbocharged engine can tug up to 5,000 pounds. Bed payload max ranges from 1,500 to 1,750 pounds depending on vehicle configuration.

That 4-foot-long bed is composite molded and features C-channel utility tracks with adjustable tie-down cleats and heavy-duty D-rings for plenty of cargo adjustability. Upper-level models have LED bed area lighting, a 115-volt outlet, and integrated cover that can be locked. All models have the ability to remotely open the tailgate and side steps built into the rear bumper.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Fuel Economy & MPG

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz will weigh in between 3,740 and 4,123 pounds depending on configuration which certainly impacts EPA fuel-economy estimates. Interestingly, when equipped with the turbocharged motor and AWD, the new Santa Cruz hits 27 mpg on the highway, which is the same figure quoted for the smaller engine with AWD. However, that naturally aspirated model bests the turbo around town with 21 mpg vs 19. In FWD guise, the standard engine is expected to achieve 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Estimates for the turbocharged mill paired with front-wheel drive have not yet been released.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

Owners of 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited models will find leather surfaces, heat on the steering wheel, and climate-controlled seats with 8-way power adjustability. All models have a removable storage bin under the back seats, which can flip up in a 60/40 split. Additional cargo can be managed with the lockable compartment beneath the rear bed or in side compartments.

A pleasant interior atmosphere is ensured with acoustic front glass and the available ambient lighting. Opening the sunroof and sliding rear glass should offer plenty of fresh air flow while features like an auto-dim rearview mirror, heated side mirrors, and automatic climate control make life easy on the driver.

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Entertainment & Technology

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

Every 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has an 8” infotainment interface with a larger 10.25” version available. In either case, a haptic-touch enabled console sits beneath that display to handle HVAC and other vehicle functions. The lack of redundant physical buttons and knobs are potential areas of user frustration.

Smartphone mirroring tech with wireless hookup is standard across the board as are dual front USB ports. You’ll need to move up the trim ladder for wireless charging and the 10” digital gauge display however. Hyundai’s Blue Link services and digital key tech bring a variety of smartphone-operated, remote control of door locks, climate settings, and vehicle start.

Safety Features

Along with front, front-side, and full-length curtain airbags, the new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has 11 different active safety systems in use. Five of them are standard and include a driver attention monitor, rear occupant alert, and forward collision avoidance.

Further aids require a package or trims above the base SE model. A highlight is the highway driving assistance which will adjust vehicle speed based on GPS and highway data, when smart cruise control is engaged, along with lane centering and keeping assist. The Santa Cruz can step in to avoid rear, cross-traffic collisions and offers cameras mounted on the exterior mirrors to provide a live stream of blind spot areas when the turn signals are in use.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Trims & Pricing

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

SE – $23,990

Like every new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, entry-level SE models feature an 8” centrally-located touchscreen for infotainment duties. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on hand with wireless integration. A naturally aspirated, 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive are standard, though all-wheel drive is a $1500 option. There are no packages currently offered with the SE, but high levels of included features like LED tail lamps and daytime running lights, an acoustic laminated windshield, and automatic high beams are nice at the sub-$25K price point.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundaiusa.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundaiusa.com

SEL – $27,190

Blind spot collision avoidance tech is added to the safety systems on SEL trim that will step in with steering corrections if needed. The driver’s seat and side mirrors pick up heating elements and a proximity key plus push button start is added to the convenience list. Blue Link Connected Car Service is also featured here with 3 years of complimentary service. For $3270, the Activity Package includes an integrated tonneau cover for the bed, sunroof, Qi wireless charging, and more.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundaiusa.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundaiusa.com

SEL Premium – $35,680

Hyundai’s Digital Key technology comes with SEL Premium trim as does a 10” digital instrument panel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Launching with AWD, front-wheel drive will be offered in the future. Other niceties on this model are a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, LED headlights, and sliding rear glass with defrosting capability. In the bed, a 115V power inverter is included as are LED lights and a lockable cover.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundaiusa.com
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundaiusa.com

Limited – $39,720

The top-spec Santa Cruz Limited comes with the larger 10” infotainment display and blind spot monitor that shows a live feed via side mirror cameras. Size 20” wheels fill out the fender wells and leather upholstery swaddles occupants. Front seats receive cooling and heating capability while a Bose audio system upgrades the tunes with eight speakers and a subwoofer. Additional features include dual USB ports for rear passengers, rain sensing windshield wipers, and ambient interior lighting.

Warranties

Hyundai’s highly regarded warranty for the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz includes 10 years or 100,000 miles of powertrain coverage as well as a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty on the overall vehicle. Rust perforations are covered for 7 years and complimentary maintenance is good for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles of ownership.

What we think

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - hyundainews.com

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz – hyundainews.com |  Shop 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz on Carsforsale.com

Hyundai is entering lightly chartered territory with the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, but appears to have done all their homework. Assuming there is a market for this type of vehicle, the Santa Cruz should do well given its unique looks, true utility, and litany of available features. Maybe America is finally ready for this.

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Niel Stender

Niel Stender grew up doing replacement work on his 1990 Cherokee and 1989 Starion, so it’s not surprising that he would put his mechanical engineering degree from the University of New Hampshire to use in the car world as a vehicle dynamics engineer. Now engineering sentence structures, his writing infuses his auto experience with his time in marketing and his sales experience. Writing about cars for close to a decade now, he focuses on some of the more technical mechanical systems that are found under the hood and throughout a vehicle.

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