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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The Santa Fe Hybrid offers plenty to like.

Hyundai

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid is all-new for 2021, and features an impressive list of standard features, great safety scores, and family-friendly space. If you're looking for a new SUV, it's hard to imagine a better fit for an urban family, or any other family, for that matter. Beyond a few small complaints, the Santa Fe Hybrid offers plenty to like.

Here are three things to like about the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid The Santa Fe Hybrid brings great passenger space and an upscale interior.Hyundai

It offers plenty of passenger and cargo space

The Santa Fe offers roomy seating for up to five adults with more than reasonable head and legroom in both rows. Second-row passengers have room to move, and don't end up jockeying for position with taller front-seat passengers. When the SUV is packed with people and needs to haul gear, it's more than capable of doing that, too, as it offers 36.4 cubic feet of space behind the second row and up to 72.1 cubic feet with the second-row seats folded down. Making the space more accessible, power-folding second-row seats and a hands-free power liftgate are standard.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid All trims come decked out with safety equipment.Hyundai

It delivers excellent fuel economy

The Santa Fe Hybrid returns impressive fuel economy numbers, especially in town, making it an excellent urban family runabout. The EPA estimates that the SUV can deliver 33 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 32 mpg combined. The Santa Fe Hybrid Blue returns 36 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 34 mpg combined. That's several miles per gallon better than the standard Santa Fe and better than some sedans.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid Fuel economy is better than many smaller cars.Hyundai

It earned great safety scores

The 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe earned a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). That score is due in part to the Santa Fe's Good marks in crash tests, but the SUV's long list of standard safety kit helps, too. All models come with forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian, cyclist, and junction turning detection, lane keeping assist, driver attention warnings, lane following assist, and a rear occupant alert system. Optional features include blind spot collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, a parking distance warning system, and a highway driving assist system.

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Frightening security

Boston Dynamics' robot to patrol Kia factory

The robot is being tested as a security patrol unit.

Hyundai

Breaking into an auto manufacturing facility was already a very bad idea, but new security tech being tested by Hyundai Motor Group makes it downright terrifying as well. In addition to cameras, sensors, and armed security guards, would-be burglars at a Kia plant in South Korea now have to face off with a semi-autonomous robot dog.

The Boston Dynamics quadruped robot, named Spot, is being tested as a safer and more effective way of providing security patrols to the plant. The dog is one of several robots designed and tested by the firm, which has long terrified the internet with its physically capable electronic beings.

Boston Dynamics Spot Robot The robot uses various sensors to detect danger and intruders.Hyundai

If you haven't seen it, the Boston Dynamics robot dog is frightening enough on its own, so it's an excellent choice to provide factory security. The robot uses an integrated thermal camera and 3D LiDAR to detect people around it, and can monitor high-temperature situations and fire hazards. It can be controlled remotely through a secure webpage, which allows personnel to see what's going on in the factory without putting themselves in danger.

The robot is capable of navigating tight spaces and can identify issues not visible to the human eye. It's also able to semi-autonomously navigate its environment, and has been developed with task management and deep learning-based vision technology. Boston Dynamics says that its tech can be expanded to other types of robot platforms.



The robot dog is currently in the pilot stage at Kia's plant in South Korea. It will be used to support late-night security patrols and increase safety for workers. Hyundai Motor Group will assess the robot's effectiveness and suitability for the job before expanding its use in other industrial sites.

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