Auto review By Veeno Dewan
Hyundai first showed a Santa Cruz concept pickup vehicle back in 2015, and I remember seeing pictures of it and thinking “Wow that’s cool!” And now here it is in the flesh. The 2022 Santa Cruz is a funky looking four- door short bed pickup based on the -new Hyundai Tucson SUV. It certainly looks distinct and better looking than its competitors–with its handsome front fascia and honed profile.
Interior wise, its the first truck in its class to offer a fully digital gauge cluster to go along with the upmarket cabin. The Santa Cruz is only available as a four-door crew cab, and passenger space in the front and the back is competitive with similarly sized trucks.
The rear cargo bed is made of a composite material, so no need for a bedliner. The bed is one of the shortest in the segment at about four feet long, but it’s very versatile, with a built-in lockable tonneau cover and a useful in-bed hidden trunk that’s like what the Honda Ridgeline has.
In Canada, the Santa Cruz arrives for now with the 2.5L four-cylinder engine making 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, mated to an automatic eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and with all-wheel-drive. Fuel economy wise, it’s officially rated at 12.1 L/100 km in the city; 8.6 highway; and 10.6 combined. The Santa Cruz comes in three trim levels: Preferred at $38,499; Preferred Trend at $41,399; and top-line Ultimate, at $44,799.
The base trim includes heated seats and steering wheel, 8-inch infotainment screen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, blind-spot monitoring, and emergency front braking. The Preferred Trend adds such luxuries as leather covered seats, power driver’s seat, adaptive cruise control, power sunroof, and dual-zone automatic climate
The Ultimate trim level adds a 10.25-inch touchscreen, navigation, surround-view camera, 20-inch wheels, ventilated seats, rain-sensing wipers, and LED headlights, along with Blind View Monitor, and a turn signal activated video feed display in the instrument cluster to show what’s alongside.
The infotainment system comprises a standard 8.0-inch or an available 10.3-inch touchscreen. The cabin matches the Tucson’s exterior, uncluttered, simple, and well thought- out. There is a plethora of touch screens for almost all controls and few physical hard buttons that may annoy some buyers. For example, there’s no volume dial for the stereo, and you must tap the screen up or down. the Santa Cruz offers wireless pairing for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Inside, the Santa Cruz has one of the better cabins among mid-size pickups. The seats are comfortable and there is decent enough room in all directions. On road visibility is good and driver ergonomics are well designed.
Out back the small rear bed has a hidden trunk under the bed floor, with a drain plug for washing out or using as a cooler. A roll-up hard tonneau cover is standard equipment. The tailgate itself is well damped. Obviously with only a four- foot bed, the Santa Cruz won’t pass the old sheet of plywood test, but it’s convenient and well -sized for active sports fans.
On the road, the 2.5L engine offers good acceleration and cruising speed.
The torque comes on strong in the fully useable mid range. Meanwhile, the manoeuvrable size, and impressive turning circle make it easy to drive.
The steering is light and responsive. The Santa Cruz accelerates smoothly, and it’s got plenty of steam to pass at highway speeds. Overall, it’s a very nice vehicle to drive. The ride is smooth and comfortable, with road bumps soaked up before they get to the quiet cabin. The steering is responsive and it’s confident and feels stable on sharp curves. Key safety features include: Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking, Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist and available blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert. Downsides are few, the upper- level trims are pricey, and the fully digital cockpit dash could use physical buttons or dials for the more commonly used functions such as volume control.
With its defined role as a light duty active play/work lifestyle truck the Santa Cruz has a huge range of accessories available , including bike and kayak carriers, and an in-bed tent. the Santa Cruz can tow up to 5,000 lbs. That’s as much as the Honda Ridgeline. To sum up, Hyundai once again shows how its done, offering a very attractive vehicle that breaks the mold when it comes to value for money, innovative design, and more features at an attractive price. Very highly recommended.
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz: Priced from $38,499 – $44,799. More info at www.hyundai.ca.