Steven Perez

by Steven Perez

posted on October 29, 2021

The car that’s also a truck

It’s a tough ask for a carmaker to try to break into the truck market. Detroit’s Big Three and Toyota have just about every square inch covered, and truck buyers are remarkably brand-loyal. So instead of going in head-first, Hyundai has produced something rather unconventional which can’t rightly be called a truck.

Or maybe it can — the new 2022 Santa Cruz looks like the Hyundai Tucson on which it’s based from the front, but from any other angle it’s essentially a compact dual-cab pickup truck, and looks like nothing else on the road. Marissa’s 2022 Santa Cruz is one of the first listed on Turo, so we’ve named it our car of the month for this October.

Marissa’s 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz (Lakewood, CO)
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
2.5L 4192 hp7.5 sec120 mph23 mpg$101
2.5L 4-cyl192 hp7.5 sec120 mph23 mpg$101

Hyundai revealed the Santa Cruz concept at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, but car/truck crossovers aren’t a new idea — we had the Chevy El Camino, a couple other experimental models, then the short-lived Subaru Baja in the mid-2000s (though the Ute platform is still soldiering on in Australia). The Santa Cruz is based on a compact SUV, but Hyundai is calling this a “Sport Adventure Vehicle,” a nod to its unibody construction, rather than body-on-frame like “real” trucks.

This Santa Cruz is powered by a 2.5L four-cylinder engine that puts out a modest 192 horsepower, so it’s not winning any tractor pull competitions. This is a city-friendly vehicle that’s about the same size as Hyundai’s midsize Sonata, so it’s for folks who want a truck, but not a truck.

As modern trucks keep getting bigger and bigger, there certainly might be a place for the Santa Cruz among other smaller trucks like the unibody Honda Ridgeline and the new Ford Maverick compact truck. The Santa Cruz’s truck bed is 48 inches long, which is much smaller than any other truck today, but with proper tie-downs, it’ll accommodate your skis, golf clubs, mountain bikes, gardening supplies, or whatever. There’s a built-in lockable bed cover and an extra cargo area under the bed’s floor, which is drainable for handy use as a cooler while tailgating or camping.

The interior of this Santa Cruz SEL isn’t nearly as curious as the outside. In fact it’s rather standard for a modern crossover-like vehicle at its price point (starts at $25,000), which means it’s got everything a new car should have these days. To be fair, the cabin is a more attractive place to sit than many pickups out there, and the fully digital gauge cluster has a few tricks and makes the Santa Cruz feel fresh and up-to-date.

Marissa’s Santa Cruz has the optional all-wheel drive equipped, and she’ll have snow tires on the car from now until the spring to take on the Colorado winter with ease. She also notes she can provide a ski rack upon request, making this an excellent choice for a snowy Rocky Mountain adventure.

So it’ll carry you plus four more, and all of your stuff in the back. It’s certainly unorthodox, but if you have some need for a truck’s utility in a smaller, more manageable package, the Santa Cruz just might be for you.

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Steven Perez

Steven Perez

Steven is an avid car guy and content maker at Turo. Between Golden State Warriors games he can be found getting lost somewhere in California.

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