Fun To Drive 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz

authorBy Avinaba

2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz


MSRP range: $25,450 - $40,320

The Santa Cruz combines the practicality of a compact truck with the quirky styling and fun-to-drive attitude of a coupe. It costs a little more than its major competition, the Ford Maverick, and the style might not be to everyone's taste, but the numerous features and upscale interior make up for the higher price.

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz has contributed to the revival of the compact pickup, a species that nearly went extinct after the 1980s mini-truckin' boom flamed out, with its survivors relegated to service with landscapers and pool cleaners. This is additional evidence that automotive trends are cyclical. But the Santa Cruz transports us to a time when stubby short-bed pickups with tiny, fuel-efficient engines ruled the highways and could nevertheless lift hefty objects.

But the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz changes the rules. The Santa Cruz is a four-door crew cab with a short 4-foot bed that is constructed on a car-like chassis comparable to the Hyundai Tucson SUV, in contrast to older compact trucks that featured two doors, bench seats, and a longer bed on top of a small boxed truck frame. As a result, it handles better and is more comfortable to drive than a conventional small truck. Although the Santa Cruz's base engine isn't all that exciting, a powerful turbocharged engine is an option and increases the truck's maximum towing capacity to 5,000 pounds. A cargo bed storage well and a sliding bed top are useful tools for concealing objects or transporting extra supplies.

What’s New?
  • Option for a strong turbocharged engine.
  • Limited rear legroom and flat seats.
  • SEL Premium offers extra features such as an expanded touchscreen and adaptive cruise.
  • Impressive range of technological attributes.
  • Reduced backward visibility.
  • Exterior blackout treatment is included in the new Night edition package.
  • There are thoughtful features built into the cargo bed.
  • The expensive upper trimmings.
  • A member of the 2022 debut of the first Santa Cruz generation.


The Santa Cruz is far more enjoyable to drive than many rivals because it has a stiffer, more car-like body rather than a standard pickup truck's body-on-frame. Impressive steering and handling are present. When the route becomes winding, you may enjoy yourself since the optional turbocharged engine produces tremendous power.

When equipped with a turbo engine, the Santa Cruz can reach 60 mph from a complete stop in under 6.5 seconds, outpacing even the quickest midsize trucks and matching the Maverick, Ford's newest small truck. The dual-clutch automatic transmission's quick and precise shifts add to the enjoyment aspect of the Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz can tackle the majority of graded dirt roads and slick conditions because of its 8.6 inches of ground clearance and all-wheel drive. Just don't anticipate it being an avid off-roader.

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The Ford Maverick, which is the 2023 Santa Cruz’s primary competition, charges a lesser entrance fee. However, Santa Cruz provides a ton of equipment and one of the finest industry warranties for the money. For a little truck, our test Santa Cruz Limited cost over $40,000, which is a lot, but it was also fully loaded. It is well worth the cost.

The powertrain warranty from Hyundai is ten years and 100,000 miles long, while the basic warranty is five years and 60,000 miles long. The same goes for the seven years/unlimited miles of rust coverage, the five years/unlimited miles of roadside support, and the three years/36,000 miles of free maintenance.


Almost any surface is smooth for the Santa Cruz to ride. Long highway drives are made easier by the front seats' excellent shock absorption of road irregularities. A unique feature among tiny and midsize vehicles, the front seats are also heated and ventilated on premium models.

The rear seats, which are upright and not nearly as comfy, are a drawback. When moving quickly, road noise from underneath the body and wind noise over the side view mirrors can both be heard.

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Front passengers of the Santa Cruz have ample head and legroom, and the driver's seat is extremely adjustable. Adults may find the back seat to be a little uncomfortable.

Thanks to the optional large center touchscreen and fully digital instrument panel in front of the driver, the interior has a somewhat futuristic feel. However, the shortcut buttons that are located below the touch screen are too adorable to be useful. Instead of being conventional buttons, they are touch-sensitive pads, making them difficult to find and operate while driving. Other than that, everything is clearly labeled and arranged in logical locations, and the steering wheel also has a lot of redundant controls.

The high-resolution screen and optional 360-degree parking camera are fantastic upgrades, despite the restricted visibility out the back window.

Towing and Storage

The bed in Santa Cruz is relatively small, although its dimensions are nearly comparable to those in the Maverick. Four-by-eight-foot sheets of plywood may be transported in the truck thanks to the tailgate's ability to be raised to match the height of the wheel wells. Gear that is muddy or damp can be stored in the in-bed trunk with a drain, as well as ice for tailgating.

The cup holders and storage in the center console are comparable to those in a small SUV. Large kid seats will be difficult to fit in the back seat, however, anchors for attaching them are conveniently placed.

The Santa Cruz boasts an excellent maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, both in terms of payload and towing. However, be aware that a trailer brake controller—which Santa Cruz lacks—is required to haul that much weight. If you intend to haul a hefty trailer, you'll need to add one from the aftermarket.

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The top Limited trim offers both Hyundai's optional 10.25-inch center touchscreen and optional 10.25-inch digital driver's display. They have clear, high-definition images that are simple to read and don't fade in bright light. With excellent sound quality throughout the majority of the volume range, the optional Bose sound system is also excellent. On base models, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connect wirelessly, but a USB connection is needed for the larger screen. Fortunately, it establishes connections with cellphones extremely rapidly, and during our test, there were no connection dropouts.

The Santa Cruz comes with a number of driver assistance features as standard equipment, such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, and frontal collision warning. The lane keeping and adaptive cruise control systems perform admirably, but we eventually found the alerts for other systems to be overly sensitive and grating.

Expert Advice

Driving the Santa Cruz is enjoyable in ways you wouldn't anticipate from a pickup truck. It has outstanding steering and handling, is maneuverable in small spaces, and really scoots along when you tell it to. Whether or not you like the quirky appearance depends on your personal preference, but Santa Cruz sticks out in a crowd. This is a distinctive car that has caught our eye. Add to that the fact that it has a stylish in-bed trunk and a plush interior.

Along with the powerful turbocharged engine, the SEL Premium level is filled with appealing features including a bigger touchscreen, navigation, and traffic-adaptive cruise control. If you have the money, you should purchase it. If not, a value choice should be sufficient with the SEL. There are four trim levels for the Hyundai Santa Cruz, a compact crew-cab pickup: SE, SEL, SEL Premium, and Limited.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How much is the new Hyundai Santa Cruz going to cost?

Ans: With a starting MSRP of $23,990, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is among the least expensive new trucks available on the American market. The cost increases to $27,190 for the middle SEL model. The SEL Premium and Limited variants with turbochargers cost more at retail—$35,680 and $39,720, respectively.

Q. Is the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz available now?

Ans: In late 2021 or early 2022, Hyundai Santa Cruz dealership availability is anticipated.

Q. Is Hyundai Santa Cruz reliable?

Ans: Consumer Reports had to utilize the reliability rating of the Hyundai brand as a whole because the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a brand-new vehicle with no track record. The Santa Cruz has a low overall rating of just 59 out of 100 since its comparatively low score has a significant impact on the rating.

Q. What is the top-of-the-line Santa Cruz?

Ans: The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz offers four trim levels - SE, SEL, SEL Premium, and Limited - and has a starting MSRP of $23,990. See below for specific trim level features and prices.

Q. What is the difference between the premium and limited Santa Cruz?

Ans: Along with the more potent turbo engine, all-wheel drive, and all the other niceties found in the SEL Premium, the Santa Cruz Limited forays into the world of luxury with extras like leather seats, premium audio, and smart cruise control.