In some ways, the all-new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is exactly what you’d expect.
It’s a thoroughly up-to-date Hyundai technology and styling package that turns the concept from the 2015 Detroit auto show into a 2022 production vehicle. In other ways, the Santa Cruz is, well, all new.
Hyundai calls the vehicle neither truck nor SUV, but an entirely new category: the “segment-shattering” sport adventure vehicle.
There has been unmistakable interest in a sporty truck since the concept’s debut, and Hyundai will finally start selling the Santa Cruz this summer, with early reservations opening in late April.
Most people will simply think of the Santa Cruz as a sporty truck, sort of an updated Subaru Baja, with four doors and an open bed with hidden, underneath storage and an optional, lockable tonneau cover.
The truck’s profile is far less angular than the average pickup, with sleek, leaning A-pillars and C-pillars that slope to meet the short bed. The 18-in. wheels or the available 20-in. alloy wheels are framed by what Hyundai calls “armor-like wheel arches.”
The Santa Cruz is not a huge vehicle, and Hyundai designed it with urban driving in mind. The 118.3-in. (3,005-mm) wheelbase offers a curb-to-curb turning radius of just 20 ft. (6.1 m). Put it all together, and you have a vehicle that is the singular creation of Hyundai’s American design studio, which proudly embossed “Designed In California” into the taillights.
Whether or not you agree with the “segment-shattering” messaging, the Santa Cruz easily will find a home in Hyundai’s current lineup. The grille design is shared with the new Tucson, and the daytime running lights are hidden inside the “parametric jewel design.”
The Santa Cruz’s safety package – to include forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keeping assist and driver attention warning all as standard – also has available options such as blindspot collision-avoidance assist, blindspot view monitor, safe exit assist, highway drive assist and rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist.
The interior is strongly reminiscent of the new Tucson, with a similar driver information screen and central infotainment touchscreen. An 8-in. (20-cm) center screen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard, an a 10.25-in. (26-cm) screen also is available.
A Bose premium audio system will be offered, and Android phone users can use Hyundai’s digital key technology to access their Santa Cruz. Other convenience features include storage under the rear seats and corner steps built into the rear bumper for easier bed access.
There will be two powertrain options, both based on the automaker’s 2.5L direct-injected 4-cyl. The standard, naturally aspirated engine will produce over 190 hp and 180 lb.-ft. (244 Nm) of torque and will use an 8-speed hydraulic automatic transmission.
The more powerful turbocharged 2.5L will produce over 275 hp and 310 lb.-ft. (420 Nm) of torque and will use an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. All output values are company estimates, and no fuel economy numbers are yet available.
The Santa Cruz will be able to tow up to 5,000 lbs. (2,268 kg) with the turbo and 3,500 lbs. (1,588 kg) with the standard powerplant. All-wheel drive is available with either engine.
The Santa Cruz will use a platform that’s modified from the one used on the ’22 Tucson, with slightly increased width. While the new Tucson offers both hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrain options, no electrified option will be available with the Santa Cruz, at least for now.
This despite the Santa Cruz’s target market of outdoor-minded urbanites associated with being eco-conscious.
The Santa Cruz (pictured below) will be built starting in June at Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, AL, while the automaker builds its electrified vehicles in Korea.