Thursday, March 3, 2022



The 2022 Hyundai Santa Fe is the South Korean automaker’s first venture in the pickup segment, though with its sleeker styling and compact box it likely is going to appeal to a different audience from the traditional truck shopper. Hyundai does’t even call it a truck, preferring to label it a “Sports Activity Vehicle.” 

It’s not meant for more rugged off-road excursions or heavy duty hauling, and towing capacity may not be up to handling mega-yachts, but it is capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds (5,000 with all-wheel drive) with trailer brakes or 1,650 without the added brakes. 

You’re not likely to find a Santa Cruz at a construction site, but the longer it is on the market, the more it likely will be showing up Home Depot and Lowes lots.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz comes in four trim levels with the base SE and SEL coming with a 191-horsepower 2.5-liter 4 cylinder engine. The upgraded SEL Premium and Limited trims get a turbocharged version of that 2.5L 4-banger that ups horsepower to a robust 281 hp while delivering 311 pound-feet of torque. Torque in the 2.5L is 181 lb.-ft. 

The 2.5L is mated to a standard 8-speed automatic transmission and the 2.5T is paired with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic. The Limited also comes with standard steering wheel-mounted shifters for manual gear selection.

All-wheel drive is standard on SEL Premium and Limited models and optional on SE and SEL, which have standard front-wheel drive. Fuel economy ratings are good for a compact truck with the 2.5L engine’s numbers at 21 miles-per-gallon city, 26 highway, and 23 combined with FWD and 21/27/23 with AWD.

The 2.5 turbo is only slightly thirstier at 19/27/22.

The Santa Cruz Limited, which this review is based on, comes with a long list of standard features that pretty much include anything your heart desires. They range routine items offered on all trims like LED taillights, automatic headlights, a roof-mounted rear cargo box light, privacy glass, a lockable under bed storage compartment, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, HD radio, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth communications, and keyless entry with push-button start to systems specific to the Limited. The latter include a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation and traffic flow, dual automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, surround-view and blind view monitor, highway driving assist, and Smart (adaptable) Cruiss Control with Stop-and-Go.

You also get leather-trimmed seats with the Limited in place of the stain-and-odor resistant cloth seats in the other trims.

All trims also get a five-passenger crew cab.

The surround view camera is a great aid in parking, and there is a warning “ding” to let you know when the vehicle stopped ahead of you at an intersection is pulling away.

Of course, the Limited gets a heavier price tag than the SE, SEL, and SEL Premium. With the $1,185 destination and delivery included, MSRP for the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited is $40,905. My test model came to $41,100 with $195 added on for carpeted floor mats.

FWD SE and SEL models start in the mid-$20,000 range and the SEL Premium is in the mid-$30,000 range.

What I liked about the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited:
The cabin is roomy and nicely appointed. The Limited has lots of standard features, and the infotainment functions are user-friendly. The ride is comfortable. The tonneau bed cover is easily opened. The turbo version is pricey but worth it for for the performance it delivers over the naturally aspirated 2.5L 4-banger. 

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited: I would like a knob to adjust radio volume and change radio stations. Back-seat legroom is on the tight side.

Would I buy the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited? Yes. Its sleeker profile and handling makes it seem more like an SUV both in looks and performance than a traditional pickup. Built on Hyundai’s compact SUV Tucson platform, it’s a very nimble performer. If the plus-$40,000 price tag (including destination and delivery) for the Limited puts you off, the SEL Premium trim offers a nice alternative with many of the same standard features as the Limited. It gives you a $4,040 break on starting MSRP, but you don’t get Smart Cruise Control.

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