Six years ago Hyundai created all kinds of buzz by debuting the Santa Cruz Concept. The concept kicked off years of speculation surrounding Hyundai’s possible entry into the pickup truck segment. Well, the tease is finally ending with the debut of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz. It has a pickup bed, but that’s nearly where the analogs end with existing pickups.
One does not have to look at the press release to determine this is based on the new Hyundai Tucson. The oversized grille with integrated lamps are a dead-giveaway of its Tucson roots, as is the overall body shaping. Hyundai designers have given the Santa Cruz additional edge with a more macho lower fascia and thicker cladding around the perimeter of the body. Meanwhile, the truck bed slops toward the back; a nod to the original concept.
Suffice to say the Tucson bones mean this truck is on the small side. In fact, it comes in 10-plus inches shorter than just about every other midsize pickup, such as the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma. It’s also several inches lower than most of the traditional midsizers, meaning this little truck is in a league of its own. Hyundai’s marketing team is calling it a Sport Adventure Vehicle, so there’s that.
The fact the Santa Cruz doesn’t blend in with other midsize trucks isn’t a bad thing. It is still a very compelling little vehicle and will likely fill a white space in the market with useful features. For example, the bed floor contains a trunk space, similar to the Honda Ridgeline. Santa Cruz also comes with a built-in roll-top tonneau cover that can cover and lock the cargo area. In total, Hyundai says it offers a payload capacity of up to 1,300 pounds.
Speaking of capability, Hyundai is offering two engine options in the Santa Cruz. The base engine will be a 2.5-liter inline-four with 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. If that isn’t enough, buyers can opt for a turbocharged version with 275 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are bolted to eight-speed automatics, but the turbo gains a dual-clutch layout. Front wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional.
Hyundai says the base engine can tow up to 3,500 pounds, while the beefier engine can tug 5,000 pounds.
Much like the exterior, the interior is shared with the Tucson. This means there’s an attractive dual-cowl design, centered with an optional 10-inch touchscreen (eight-inch standard). Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as are many active safety features. Hyundai is offering it usual list of features as optional, including adaptive cruise control.
Hyundai will begin production of the 2022 Santa Cruz this summer in Montgomery, Alabama. Pricing is expected to be announced closer to launch.