2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T AWD – Bottom Line Review

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: Confluence of urban active lifestyle and light work with debut of compact sport activity pickup truck, starting at $25k, as tested in 2.5T Limited AWD trim at $41k.

SURFING SAFARI: About 75 miles south of San Francisco, California, a series of rocky bottoms along the Pacific Ocean coastline is one of the planet’s best place to Curl all Ten Toes. On the way to catching waves, automaker Hyundai expects that more dudes and dudettes are hauling their waxed O’Neill funboards from Steamer Lane to Pleasure Point in the Korean brand’s first sport activity pickup truck, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz.

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WHAT: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD. The Korean brand puts forth its first ever compact pickup truck effort on a unibody architecture shared with the 4th generation Tuscon crossover utility vehicle.

Standard Power: 2497 cc, DI, dual VVT-i DOHC 16V I-4 cylinder gasoline engine = 191 hp/ 181 lb-ft + 8-speed automatic torque converter planetary transaxle;

Optional Drivetrain: PTU to viscous multi-clutch differential all-wheel drive.

Optional Power: intercooled twin-scroll turbocharged 2497 cc, DI, dual VVT-i DOHC 16V I-4 gas engine = 281 hp/ 311 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm + 8-speed manumatic automated wet dual clutch helical transaxle, with steering wheel shift paddles + PTU to viscous multi-clutch differential all-wheel drive

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: potent turbo gas I-4 with 311 lb-ft twist mates to 8-speed twin clutch automated gearbox + PTU all-wheel drive = 22 mpg

 Idle Stop and Go – both powertrains

    • = +35 hp, +41 lb-ft vs. Ford Maverick

WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: When Santa Cruz debuted at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show it was served up in a surfing beach diorama rather than an imitation construction site. The front two-thirds might be a Hyundai Tuscon stunt man. However, Santa Cruz out stretches the related crossover ute by more than a foot and out-wheelbases it by almost 10 inches.

Parametric Too: That wide then narrowing cascading dark chain link grille with Parametric Hidden LED daytime running lights are Tuscon donations . However all Santa Cruz’ own are: a brawnier mid and lower fascia, consisting of more pronounced and pervasive dark cladding, an emphatic inward arrow housed corner headlamp array, and stacked “T” lower air intake dam.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: Parametric Hidden LEDs form dual boomerang DRL array in grille

Apart from Tuscon: A more conventional smooth concave mid 2nd Row door to quarter panel transition; Linear rather than kinked lower body crease and cladding; Hemi-circular rather than polygonal wheel arches; Hofmeister kink resides at the “C” pillar owing to lack of “D” pilar;  No simulated skid plate, either front or rear; Boomerang “C” pillar with dark lateral band at top; Center High Mount Brake Lamp is aft cab roof mounted; A unified four foot bed with rolling tonneau cover culminates in a tail with lateral stingray taillights and “SANTA CRUZ” tailgate embossing; The lower steel bumper is contrast dark clad with corner and middle step grips.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: rear tailgate sports lateral stingray LED array while rear bumper is dressed rugged with integrated steps.

WHY: Hyundai Hangs Ten with its first compact sport activity pickup truck.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Autumn 2020

WHERE: Hyundai new vehicle dealerships

WHERE MADE: Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.A.

WHERE TO: 4 Drive Modes: Eco, Smart, Sport, Snow; All-weather drive + locking viscous clutch center differential + F:R active torque split from 100:00 to 50:50; Downhill brake control; 8.6″ ground clearance.

HOW STRONG:   Either as detuned Genesis GV80 2.5T or uptuned Hyundai Santa Fe Calligraphy powerplant the Soundsteam gas inline-4 impresses with a turbocharged power band which is plenty healthy and linear. The automated dual clutch transmission, behaves mostly like a conventional planetary automatic gearbox, with the advantages of snappier handoffs and less hunting. +1 Assuring aural engine note.

HOW LIMBERThat new Hyundai Santa Cruz drives more like a car and less like truck is no surprise since construction is unibody instead of boxed frame. Still it remains astonishing how generous wheel travel, with upgraded bump stops over the Hyundai Tucson, damps so well, absent jitter or jounce. Lateral movements are sufficiently buttoned down for getting around town. As in the donor CUV, steering winds smoothly if not with magnitudes of feel. Four wheel disc brakes enhance pedal feel, yet could stand more immediate friction.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: 20″ alloys + “Take that Jeep” wheel arch Easter eggs.

HOW FAR: 22 mpg combined fuel economy; 390 miles highway range

  • observed combined fuel economy = +35 hp, +41 lb-ft vs. Ford Maverick

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: Will fit inside a 20 foot garage, just barely; Compact car row 2 passenger legroom; 4×8′ drywall or plywood fits above wheelhouses and hangs over bed with liftgate lowered by about 1 foot.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: Row 2 seating for 3, down some legroom to donor Tucson
  • Wheelbase (SuperCrew, 5′ Box): 126.8″ inches = -1.5″ vs. Ford Maverick
  • Row 2 legroom: 34.5″ inches = -1.3″ vs. Ford Maverick


Outside: Composite lined 4.0′ foot cargo box; Corner & center bumper steps; Sliding J cleats x 2, fixed T cleats x 2, lower hook anchors x 4; Dual cargo box side storage bins, R side w/ 115 V AC power outlet; Power release, easy action tailgate hinges; Integrated rolling box tonneau cover; Cargo box sub-bed storage bin w/ hinged cover and drains; White LED overhead box lighting; Sliding rear cab center backlight.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: tailgater’s sub cargo bed tub

Inside: 60:40 split 2nd Row fold-up bench cushions; 2nd Row sub-bench storage bins; Cup holders x 4, door bottle holders x 4.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: 60:40% fold up rear bench cushions w/ sub-cushion storage bins

-1 No running boards; Sparse door pocket space

Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: 

    • cargo box length: 48″ inches = -6.0″ vs. Ford Maverick
    • towing: 5000 lbs. = + 1000 lbs. vs. Ford Maverick Ecoboost
    • payload: 1609 lbs. = + 109 lbs. vs. Ford Maverick

HOW SAFE: Related Hyundai Tuscon = IIHS 2022 Top Pick Plus status: 6 airbags, Rear camera w/ fixed gridlines

Driver assist technology (STANDARD): Blind Spot Warning (available); Forward collision, pedestrian avoidance braking; Adaptive cruise control (SEL & up); Lane departure warning, keep assist, trace; Rear Cross Traffic Alert, collision avoidance; Automatic high beam headlamps; 2nd Row occupant alert; +1 Safe exit street side warning & Row 2 lock-in

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: blind spot warning, rear seat minder, w/ available traffic lockout & surround camera, F+R sonar park warning

AVAILABLE SAFETY: (included on 2.5T Limited test vehicle): Navigation based adaptive cruise + curve control w/ highway assist; Blind View Monitor gauge cluster adjacent lane view; Ultrasonic rear occupant app alert; Park distance warning, front & rear; Park collision avoidance braking, rear; Surround view cameras; Rain sensing wipers.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: Blind Spot View in the TFT gauge cluster dials.

HOW FRIENDLY2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, in top Limited trim, unveils occupant space which handily rivals entry luxury cars in execution. Operations are anchored by two monolithic tablet style displays, much as is found in current PEVs, and a nearly flat surfaced center console featuring a three push-button transmission selector. The result is dramatically de-cluttering and seamless surface continuity. An elegant tandem lateral metallic banding spans the upper dash cowl, including vent-work then extending into door panels, where the upper layer is filled with orange accented ballistic fabric.

Check it out Elon: bridged steering wheel lower horizontal spokes render the optical illusion of an aircraft cockpit yoke.

Contrast stitched, perforated, leather seating, front heated & cooled; Driver’s 10-way power, front passenger 4-way manual;  4 power windows = front x full express; Heated tilt & telescoping, cross-stitched leather wrapped steering wheel; Dual analog dial gauges; Fore center console twin dial and button 2-zone automatic climate switchgear; Power moonroof

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: driver entry

+1 Lower left lower dashboard dimmer & driver assist controls; +1 Wind & road noise isolation. +1 2nd Row door mounted seat heating switches.

+1 Cool Gizmo(s): ♦ 10.25″ landscape tablet TFT virtual gauge cluster w/ adjacent lane view; ♦ “Sounds of Nature” ambient audio effects; ♦ Push button center console transmission selector; ♦ Retracting center console cupholder brackets; 2-speed power liftgate; 2nd Row occupancy / parcel reminder & motion sensing remote app notification; Side Exit approaching vehicular and bicycle traffic 2nd Row lock-in.

Details Done Right: ♦ Fully padded and contrast stitched dashboard; ♦ Matte metallic and wood dashboard and door accents; ♦ Middle dashboard pebble graining; ♦ Metallic vent bezels; +1 Grooved metallic toggle integrated steering wheel spoke controls; +1 Metallic mid-dashboard media switch buttons.

Nearly Non Descript: -1 Thinner cargo bay carpets; -1 3rd Row and aft dark, hard grained plastic wall & pillars; -1 Climate control display reflective glare.

HOW CONNECTED:  Upper center dash embedded 10.25″-inch capacitive touch LCD landscape oriented, split pane infotainment screen; +1 Large touch display icons; Voice learning hands-free communications; Native GPS HD voice command, guidance navigation + real time HD traffic + Doppler weather + fuel prices; BlueLink Apps.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: available 10.25″ TFT gauge cluster & embedded 70:30% split screen GPS cloud navigation.
  • Helpful vehicle setting menu function pictograms
  • Spatial filling 8 speaker, 8 channel Bose Centerpoint DSP HD radio, streaming audio upgrade
  • +1 cool tube audio pictogram for radio modes
  • -1 Acclimating to lack of physical audio and climate buttons, knobs

♦ Helpful vehicle setting menu function pictograms


Android Auto / Apple Car Play smart phone projection;

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD: standard Android Auto + Apple CarPlay phone projection, Radio tube display
    • +1 Voice commands for climate, audio, SMS and navigation inputs

By Subscription: Sirius XM & Sirius XM TravelLink (90 days included trial); BlueLink telematics (5 years included)

HOW MUCH: $41,100 for a 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Limited AWD

WHAT’S MISSING: Work glove friendlier command center, heated front seats

ANY COMPETITION: Ford Maverick: +1 half foot longer cargo box; available gas-electric hybrid at launch

FINAL SAY-SO: Surf’s up in an urban active lifestyle compact pickup truck.

(Contributing Editor: S. Frissell)

An automotive enthusiast since an orange toy VW Beetle ended up in his playpen and following him everywhere, George Straton has been chief editor at ChicagoNow.com/Drive-He-Said automotive lifestyle blog since 2010. In 2017 George established Roadblazing.com, dedicated to accurate automotive reviews, news and road trip stories. George is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and the Phoenix Automotive Press Association. George also happens to be an attorney and Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers fan. Present ride: 2022 Mazda 3 Turbo AWD Hatchback.

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