Anthony’s Analytics: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited AWD

Anthony’s Analytics: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited AWD

by  Anthony Fongaro - 11/21/2021

Who here remembers when we had small pickups? I’m talking about trucks like the last-generation Ford Ranger. Something that is perfect for the city due to its small size and pickup bed. When I mean small, I mean smaller than the current generation Ford Ranger. Think the truck equivalent of a Volkswagen Golf. There aren’t a lot of these trucks in the United States. In fact, there are only two pickups sold that are in the teeny-tiny class. Interestingly, Hyundai is one of the few automakers that have a small pickup. 

Hold on! Hyundai doesn’t make a pickup; it makes a “sports adventure vehicle”. Hyundai’s Santa Cruz is their first vehicle with a truck-like bed. If you only look at the Santa Cruz head-on, it looks just like a Tucson. When you do a walk-around of the Santa Cruz, you can see that Hyundai really didn’t want to produce a traditional pickup. I do admire Hyundai doing something this bold, but none of us are exactly surprised. Hyundai has teased the Santa Cruz for years and now it has to hold up.

Anthony’s Analytics: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited AWD

Pickups are usually very boxy, but the Santa Cruz isn’t a pickup, so it isn’t. Instead, there are curves and design elements that closely resemble the Tucson SUV. At the front, the Santa Cruz looks almost the same as the Tucson with the cool lights integrated into the grill. The side profile has a nice crease in the bodywork from the front doors to the rear of the SAV, but Hyundai did make a mistake. The rear windows are too small and there’s a gap between the glass and the rear. I’m not a fan of that, but I am a fan of the Sage Green paint and 20-inch wheels. You won’t forget it’s a Santa Cruz because it’s stamped loud and proud on the tailgate. 

Remember when I said the exterior of the Santa Cruz looks like a Tucson in the previous paragraph? The interior looks like a mixture of the Tucson and Elantra. Thankfully, that means that the design is straightforward and not difficult to use. This top-of-the-line Santa Cruz has a lot of features, starting with the digital dials which show a video feed in one of the dials when you flip on your turn indicator. Steering wheel controls are your basic media and adaptive cruise control buttons. Hyundai’s infotainment systems are easy to use since they are touchscreen and include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. They also decided to have haptic-feedback buttons under the infotainment system on piano black which smudged a lot.

This Limited Santa Cruz also has both heated and cooled seats, along with a heated steering wheel. The buttons are next to the driver so you have to look at which button you’re pressing. This isn’t a very large vehicle, and the backseat of the Santa Cruz is tiny. The seats are good but nothing to write home about. What is something to write home about is the small truck bed. In total, the truck bed is 52.1-inches long, or 4.5-feet long. That’s not big, but you could fit a bike in the back? 

Anthony’s Analytics: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited AWD

It may not have the biggest bed (it might be the smallest), but the Santa Cruz Limited does has Hyundai’s 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four. That means it produces 281-horsepower and 311 lb-ft. Combined with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic and all-wheel-drive, the Santa Cruz goes from 0-60 MPH in 6 seconds. If you’ve driven a Tucson, this feels almost exactly the same. The engine makes plenty of power and you won’t be asking for more. In fact, you’ll forget that you’re in a vehicle similar to what others call a “pickup”. The Santa Cruz is very comfortable and feels more planted than a lot of trucks a class size higher. There are also a few driving modes in the Santa Cruz which includes Smart, Auto, Sport, and Snow. Beyond that, there are other modes for various terrain and towing. I did get around 22 MPG which seems low, but it was about 30 degrees here so I’ll take that.

So, what do you get with this top-of-the-line Santa Cruz Limited? First, a bill for $41,500. That includes the upgraded turbo-charged engine, 20-inch wheels, all of Hyundai’s safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. Other features in the Limited are that with leather seats that are heated and cooled, heated steering wheel, sunroof, and 10.25-inch digital dials and infotainment system. All of this adds up to quite a lot of technology and features but it comes at a steep price. While I like the Limited, I would step-down to the SEL Premium for about $4,000 less. This is such a small thing that having surround-view cameras seems like a waste.

There is a lot of character in the Hyundai Santa Cruz. It feels like a crossover with a truck bed, though it is more complicated than that. The Santa Cruz reminds me of how Honda created the Ridgeline. The Santa Cruz can probably do a good amount of what most other trucks can do while maintaining being good-to-drive in any situation. I’m still not sure what I would fill the Santa Cruz’s truck bed with? If you know the answer, maybe you should take a look at the Hyundai Santa Cruz? It’s an interesting truck not-truck sports adventure vehicle. 

The numbers


2.5-liter turbocharged inline-four

Power: 281-horsepower

Torque: 311 lb-ft

0-60 MPH

6.0 seconds

This little not truck has some punch.

Fuel Economy

22 MPG

Low, but I did have all the heating elements on.


8-speed dual-clutch automatic

As always, a good and quick transmission.



Small SAV, large price! 



It’s good to have to reel in some of the power.

Verdict as a Number


A fun little not-truck, but a little expensive.