Opinion

Let me explain: Here’s what the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is not

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is new to the company's lineup.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has arrived. Half a decade after the Santa Cruz concept was the belle of the ball at the North American International Auto Show, the production version of the truck has shown its face.

It's important that one thing is crystal clear. The 2022 Santa Cruz isn't designed to compete with the Ford F-150. It also isn't a Ford Ranger rival. Ford sees it as competition for its forthcoming Maverick pickup and it's not wrong. But, the Santa Cruz is also expected to compete more against the unexpected.

It's a model that likely appeals to Subaru Crosstrek and Outback owners in the same way that the Subaru Baja did back in the day. It's also one that owners of another Ford, the Bronco Sport, may have their eye on. It's adventure-ready thanks to its all-wheel drive technology and equipment, but not as off-road-ready as a Wrangler.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek The Subaru Crosstrek grew more powerful for the 2021 model year with a fresh engine option. Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

Then there's the inevitable comparisons to the Honda Ridgeline. The two have a lot in common, but they're not necessarily for the same crowd though they both have untraditional looks, a trunk in the bed, and SUV-like interiors. That's not a bad thing. SUVs are notoriously more comfortable and tech-forward than trucks, but there's a lot of utility there as well. The Ridgeline is bigger than the Santa Cruz.

Sure, it's easy to look at the Santa Cruz and immediately think that it's just a Tucson wearing a truck suit. You'd be wrong, to an extent. The only shared components between the Tucson and the Santa Cruz are in the cabin. The platform and body of the Santa Cruz has been stretch sideways and lengthened beyond the dimensions of the SUV, and its wheelbase is longer. The grille and shoulders are designed to be more aggressive.

That length is a sweet spot in the automotive market as trucks grow in size. Have you seen a GMC Sierra HD lately? Massive presence! The Santa Cruz has dimensions more like a midsize SUV meaning that it is easy to parallel park and fits into a parking garage with aplomb, which is especially important for urban dwellers and those along the California coast.

202 The GM trucks - GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Silverado - have grown substantially in the last few years, with their heavy-duty versions becoming even larger. Photo courtesy of GMC

The face of the Santa Cruz is the face of the new Tucson. That was the plan all along. The truck was never designed to be bigger or have a grille that is like the Palisade's. That plays into the whole thesis behind the truck's existence to begin with.

It's not meant for the job site, unless your job happens to be as an REI adventure guide. It's not meant to tow your 4x4s around the country, but it can take your surfboard and mountain bike on board. A tent and some luggage? Done. Easily handled.

The biggest thing that the Hyundai Santa Cruz isn't is a sacrifice. It checks many boxes, is obviously the product of a lot of customer research, and is likely to deliver a lot of bang for the buck (pricing isn't available yet).

Instead of trying to define the Santa Cruz, maybe it's time to start taking a look at redefining what it means to be a truck. The GMC Hummer EV would like a word.

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New compact pickup truck

Hyundai announces pricing for Santa Cruz pickup

It's small, but the Santa Cruz can do plenty of truck stuff like the big guys.

Hyundai

Looking at American trucks over the years, it's hard to ignore their growing size and price, but 2021 might just be the year that bucks that trend. Earlier in the year, Ford announced the compact Maverick pickup truck, and after months of rumors, Hyundai did the same. The Santa Cruz will be a small unibody pickup designed in California and built in Alabama. Today, the automaker announced pricing for the upcoming vehicle.

Pricing for the Santa Cruz starts at $23,990, which after the $1,185 destination charge comes to $25,175. That reasonable sum buys the base SE trim, which comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. Hyundai estimates that the base engine produces 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, while the available turbocharged 2.5-liter engine makes 275 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.

Other standard features include:


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz The Santa Cruz rides on a unibody frame, which gives it a better ride than most trucks.Hyundai


  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • LED taillights
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Rear occupant alerts
  • Driver attention warnings
  • Lane keeping assist
  • Speed limit warnings
  • Leading vehicle departure alerts

Despite its size and unibody construction, the Santa Cruz does offer traditional truck capabilities. With the base engine on board, the vehicle is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds, and with the turbocharged engine that number increases to 5,000 pounds. The unibody setup also gives the Santa Cruz a more car-like ride and handling, which improves comfort. It's a configuration that is also used by the Honda Ridgeline and the upcoming Ford Maverick pickups.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz The Santa Cruz has a useful bed that can be configured a few ways.Hyundai


Hyundai started building the Santa Cruz at its Montgomery, Alabama factory in June. The automaker says that its production will eventually add 1,200 jobs to the facility, and notes that the vehicle will go on sale sometime later this summer. We're heading out to drive the new Santa Cruz in early August, so stay tuned for a first-drive review in a few weeks.

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Tesla claims that its Cybertruck will go into production this year.

Photo courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

In a presentation to investors this morning, Ford Motor Company revealed that it has received 70,000 reservations for its just-debuted F-150 Lightning electric truck. Its on-paper chief rival, the Tesla Cybertruck, has over one million according to data acquired by Finbold. Rivian, who is nearly ready to start production of its R1T all-electric truck, has over 30,000 reservations, according to reporting by InsideEVs.

Reservations are not orders or sales though they do serve as an indicator of the buying public's enthusiasm for a new model. More and more automakers are switching to online reservations to gauge buyer interest, determine proper product mix, and stay in touch with clients on a more personal level. Hyundai did this with the 2022 Tucson and Ford has successfully used it to launch the Mustang Mach-E.


2022 Ford F-150 Lightning The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has an all-electric powertrain in its familiar body. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Tesla opened reservations for the Cybertruck immediately following its debut around the same time as the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show where the Mustang Mach-E also debuted. Last July, Finbold revealed that their data showed that there were around 650,000 reservations. In 2018 and 2019 Tesla produced 612,120 vehicles.

Finbold's fresh research indicates that as of May 25, 2021, estimated Cybertruck reservations had reached 1.08 million. That number is more than the 866,750 total vehicles delivered by Tesla in two years between 2019 and 2020.

Though construction at the future home of the Cybertruck, Tesla's Austin, Texas plant, is ongoing, Tesla no longer features the Cybertruck alongside its existing models. The truck's homepage is currently housed in a "see more" style hamburger menu as a singular link alongside the Roadster and Semi. The Cybertruck was originally slated to begin production later this year.

The F-150 Lightning is expected to reach consumers ahead of the Tesla Cybertruck despite the fact that the Cybertruck was unveiled years ahead of the F-Series model. Both have fully electric powertrains. Ford will also offer the electric truck in a fleet version.

Ford has given more specifics about the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning than Tesla has about the Cybertruck. It will look much like a traditional F-150 but have an electric powertrain that gives it a maximum of 563 horsepower and 773 pound-feet of torque. The truck is being built to be capable of towing though doing so will likely decrease the truck's 300-mile maximum range considerably.

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