2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited AWD Review | WUWM 89.7 FM


Few ideas are totally new to the automotive world, but they often seem new, or simply, the time is right.

Take Hyundai’s shiny new Santa Cruz, a crossover crossover, a blend of crossover comfort and convenience and the utility of a pickup. The mesh of the two most popular modes of transportation today seems as smart as Reese’s chocolate and peanut butter mix.

At media events, Hyundai has gone out of its way to emphasize that the Santa Cruz is not a pickup, but a sports adventure vehicle. An after-sales service not an SUV. Still, you can be sure most people will see a compact and stylish pickup here.

This isn’t the first time this combo has been tried, nor that a fun naming scheme has appeared. Do you remember Subaru’s BRAT? Probably not. It was a nice pickup that Subaru called a Bi-drive recreational all-terrain transporter. It looks like something an astronaut could circle the moon with. It lasted from 1978 to 1994 and then (sort of) returned from 2003 to 2006 as the Baja, a crossover SUV and pickup with a decidedly sleek exterior. Around the same time, Ford was selling the Explorer Sport Trac. All equipped with all-wheel drive.

All of this is a long way to say that the Hyundai Santa Cruz will be a huge hit. It’s the right mix at the right time.

Hyundai based the Santa Cruz on its handsome Tucson crossover, a big compact with unitary body construction, so it behaves like a car, not a truck. The designers worked hard to keep the interior roomy like a Tucson, then turned the rear of a closed hatch into a wonderful, multi-functional compact platform. Santa Cruz is a pleasure to drive, navigate and watch.

The lines look modern and decidedly un-obsessed with He-Man, like all those trucker vans. It is first a family transporter, then a macho transporter of dirt and shrubs, and virtually no thumbs up on the macho scale. Santa Cruz looks young, fun, and manageable.

Still, the Santa Cruz scores points on power, handling, and handling with all-wheel drive also available if you plan on towing your boat or motorhome off the beaten track. Hyundai designers seem to have thought of everything.

Santa Cruz offers two engine choices: a 190-horsepower 2.5-liter I4 at a great entry-level front-wheel drive price of $ 23,990. Meanwhile, the top-of-the-line Limited AWD model tested adds a turbo to this engine to turn an impressive 281 horsepower with 311 torque. It’s available in the Premium and Limited SEL, both with standard and listing AWD. in the range of nearly $ 40,000.

My Limited was a subtle sage green (greyish green that costs $ 400 more) that quickly hit highway speeds and its 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission shifted smoothly. All-wheel drive gave it good wet traction, well tested on roads covered with wet leaves in late fall. Engine noise was minimal and the after-sales service (OK, I said it) felt rugged on the highway with little wind disturbance or noise.

However, it’s the ride and handling that easily communicates that Santa Cruz is NOT a pickup. The Hyundai has a moderately long wheelbase at 118.3 inches and a smooth ride to confirm it. Bumps and rough pavement are minor occurrences, not tailbone stings or skull rattling. If you like rock’n’roll, buy a truck.

The handling is light and easy. Turn into a tight curve and there is just a touch of body tilt, but no tail movement as most trucks have higher speeds. The all-wheel drive calm and the weight seems well distributed here, no heaviness in the nose. A similar-sized Nissan Frontier driven the following week, for example, looked much more like a truck with significant feedback and steering effort.

And listen, I didn’t even need a step to get up to Santa Cruz. In fact, comfort is as important as utility here, reflected in an elegant, but useful, not fancy interior style.

The seats are in perforated black leather, the instrument panel is black with a glossy black trim line wrapping the doors through the instrument panel and framed by satin chrome accents. There are more satin-finished trims on the wheel hub and seatbacks under the headrests, and additional trim in gloss black above the door armrests and above the sunroof and controls. lighting. Spicy!

Hyundai’s touchscreen is 10.25 inches wide and easy to use. There are also large, simple climate controls, along with a Diffuse button to distribute hot air all around.

The driver benefits from an electric seat while the passenger seat is manually adjusted. Both are well formed for comfortable hip and lower back support. Rear seaters also have good head and leg room, and the seat backs are sculpted to provide more knee room in the second row. There is also storage space under the rear seats.

The front seats are heated and cooled in the Limited, which also boasts a heated steering wheel. All of these controls are on the front of the center armrest / storage box, so easy to locate and use. Perfect!

Under the center console is a wireless phone charger, a USB socket and a 12 volt outlet. Other buttons on the console are for hill descent to control off-road speed, a 4WD lock button and camera button to allow full 360 view at all times.

There’s also a top-of-the-line Bose audio and navigation system in the Limited, as well as a sunroof.

Everything surprisingly fancy and family-friendly, but what sells me in Santa Cruz, for the utilitarian family side of my pea-brain, is the creativity and utility of the pickup bed.


First, I’m short, and Hyundai cleverly designed steps in the corners of the rear bumpers and in the middle of the bed under the tailgate, making it easier to get into the bed.

Second, the lockable tailgate is an easy-to-lower model that doesn’t slam your leg if you unlock it while standing right behind the truck. Ford’s new Maverick compact pickup still has the old folding tailgate.

Third, there is a sturdy retractable tonneau cover with a strap attached underneath so that you can release it and throw the cargo in the back, then pull the strap to close it. Hyundai says the barrel will take a lot of weight as well, hinting that even I could stand on it without causing damage.

Need more?

Fourth, there is storage space hidden under the composite truck bed. Unlock it and hide your valuables, or fill it with ice and you have a cooler for the Packers or Brewer tailgating. (Yes, there is also a plug to drain the water.)

Fifth, inside a small removable side panel is a 115-volt inverter so you can plug in a TV or electrical equipment if needed.

One more thing – Hyundai designed the truck wheel arch covers to support the plywood, so you can make shelves at the back of the bed to carry extra items, or, well, plywood. Clever!

Santa Cruz will haul 1,568 pounds of stuff in bed and tow up to 5,000 pounds of trailers, boats and snowmobiles. Like a truck!

Then there’s the usual safety gear, including driver attention and forward collision warning, lane keep assist and automatic emergency braking. To get a blind spot warning, rear cross traffic warning and assistance, and a safe exit warning, you need to upgrade to higher trim levels. Limited understands it all.

Gas mileage is decent, certainly better than most pickup trucks. I got 24.8 mpg in about 60% of highway driving with up to four people comfortably on board. The EPA rates Santa Cruz at 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway for the AWD model. In fairness, the new Maverick has better ratings and a hybrid system that can reach 42 mpg. It is suspected that a Santa Cruz hybrid will arrive soon.

Thank Hyundai for maintaining its exceptional 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty and now adding a free 3-year, 36-month maintenance plan that will include all of your tire rotations, oil changes and liquid fillings.

Prices are also attractive across the range, starting at $ 25,175 with delivery for the front-wheel drive SE model with its non-turbo engine. There’s also a $ 31,645 SEL Activity FWD model that includes more gear. Adding all-wheel drive to either costs $ 1,500.

The SEL Premium model is the first with the turbo engine and AWD standard and costs $ 36,865 including delivery. The tested Santa Cruz Limited starts at $ 40,905 with delivery, and with its special color and carpeted floor mats, it ends at $ 41,500.

If you think it’s a lot, you haven’t priced a loaded pickup or crossover lately.

Some would say Santa Cruz is a market leader, but it’s a one, maybe two market right now. Honda’s Ridgeline, another civilized pickup, is bigger, and Ford’s Maverick (which just made its debut) is aimed directly at pickup buyers with a more macho look, but a price tag. competitive.

Santa Cruz is for families who love the outdoors and urban cowboys who don’t own a cowboy hat.


Preview: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited AWD

Shots: Stylish crossover / pickup inside and out, good power, great ride and handling, plus AWD. Full security system, large touchscreen, heated / cooled seats, heated steering wheel, wireless charger, sunroof. Useful bed with 2 tier storage, hidden compartment / cooler, power outlet, composite bed, easy retract tonneau cover. Solid construction and warranty / maintenance plan.

Lack : Nothing

Made in: Montgomery, Ala.

Motor: 2.5 liter turbo I4, 281 hp

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with Shiftronic

Weight: 4,164 pounds

Wheelbase: 118.3 inch

Length: 195.7 inch

Payload: 1,568 lbs.

Tow: 5,000 pounds.

MPG: 19/27

Base price: $ 40,905 (delivery included)

Invoice: $ 39,329

Main options: Sage gray paint, $ 400

Carpeted floor mats, $ 195

Test vehicle: $ 41,500

Sources: Hyundai, Kelly Blue Book

Editor’s Note: Mark Savage’s automotive column Savage On Wheels takes a look at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what is good, what isn’t and how the vehicle fits in the market.


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