One of the most anticipated new vehicle reveals of the year, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz compact crossover pickup has been fully unveiled this last week. I say anticipated because ever since the Santa Cruz concept vehicle was shown at the Detroit Auto Show over six years ago, people have been talking about it, begging for it make production.
Sticking closely to the formula of the concept vehicle, the production Santa Cruz is daring and bold in its design, showing athletic and futuristic form that cannot be called bland or ordinary. One of a number of new crossover pickups coming in the next year including the more conservatively styled Ford Maverick, this one already shows signs of being a breakout player in the marketplace
Based on the also all-new 2022 Hyundai Tuscon, the new Santa Cruz will be smaller than the current crop of mid-size pickup trucks by significant margin. It’s 10-inches shorter than a Honda Ridgeline and up to 17-inches shorter than a Toyota Tacoma and those in its class. It’s also smaller in height than everything by about 4-inches.
While sharing is bones with the new Hyundai Tucson, the exterior sheet metal is unique in its lines and sculpting. The grille and lighting are even more artistic and aggressive with jeweled LED daytime running lamps which appear hidden grille elements when turned off.
Muscular fenders hood and raked A and C pillars that fly back into its rear bed line add to the adventuresome silhouette. Unlike the Honda Ridgeline and coming Ford Maverick, Hyundai chose an integral bed shell structure bolstered by its flying C-pillars. Wheels will range from 18 to 20-inches, giving it a solid well balanced stance.
It comes with only with a four-door cab and 4-foot bed that features standard a lockable tonneau cover. Inside the bed are a number of hidden storage compartments and amenities to help make the Santa Cruz appeal to its largely urban customers who are looking for something more like an SUV than a truck, but with an open bed capability.
While traditional body-on-frame truck buyers might scoff at its unibody construction and smallish cargo box, I think Hyundai is well dead nuts on their calculation that there are more than enough buyers who’s needs and wants will be more than met with the new crossover pickup with its smaller size and better manageability in an urban environment than larger trucks.
The interior is virtually identical to the 2022 Hyundai Tucson featuring a dual cowl design and available dual screen digital cockpit that we’ve come to love in other Hyundai models. Seating, trim, and and infotainment options will be virtually identical to that of the Tucson across the board which means a lot of stuff. Differences are found under the folding rear seat however, with some additional storage bins and cubbies expected in the cab of today’s trucks.
Powertrain options include a standard 190-plus horsepower 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission and an optional 2.5-liter turbocharged four with over 275 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The latter will come with Hyundai’s new heavy duty 8-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters.
The Santa Cruz will be available in both FWD or AWD and can tow up to 3,500 lbs with the base engine and with the turbo up to 5,000 lbs. These two powertrains appear to best the small 1.5 three-cylinder and 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines Ford is reported to be offering in their upcoming Maverick.
Chassis design we’re told has been dialed in for both refined on-road performance and off-road dynamic abilities. Compared to its peers, it features a shorter wheelbase and shorter overhangs that should promise better maneuverability. Whether an off-road focused suspension, tire and wheel package or trim grade will be available is not yet said.
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz goes into production at the brand’s Alabama plant this June and goes on sale this summer. Pricing and final specifications will be announced later this spring. If I had to guess, pricing will likely start around $25,000 to just under $30,000.