Hyundai Santa Cruz and Team Brute Squad Commit to 2023 Off-Road Rebelle Rally

“We are excited to be sponsoring Team Brute Squad in the Rebelle Rally for the second year in a row.”

For the second year in a row, automotive writers Jill Ciminillo and Kristin Shaw will drive a 2022 Santa Cruz Limited in the eighth annual Rebelle Rally, an all-women, off-road navigational challenge. Beginning Oct. 12, Ciminillo and Shaw will return as Team Brute Squad to compete in the Tough X-CROSS™ Class and travel over 1,500 miles across the deserts of California and Nevada.

“We are excited to be sponsoring Team Brute Squad in the Rebelle Rally for the second year in a row,” said Randy Parker, CEO, Hyundai Motor America. “This event is a unique way to showcase the power and versatility of our one-of-a-kind sport adventure vehicle, the Santa Cruz. And we’re proud to partner with Jill and Kristin again this year as they take their performance to the next level.”

About The Rally
Rebelle Rally blends the love of off-road driving with the ultimate challenge of precise navigation skills. It is not a race for speed, but a unique and demanding event based on the elements of headings, hidden checkpoints and time. Distances and directions are calculated using maps and a compass. No cellphones or GPS navigations systems are permitted. In fact, cellphones are collected at the start of the event to ensure no cheating.

“The Rebelle Rally is one of those life-changing events that teaches you a lot about who you are as a person and what you can accomplish as a part of team,” said Jill Ciminillo. “The rough terrain and primitive environment pushed Kristin and I to our physical and mental limits last year, and the Hyundai Santa Cruz proved to be a capable third teammate protecting us from the elements with its heated-and-cooled seats while helping us tackle a route that often did not include roads. We can’t wait to get behind the wheel again and take everything we learned from last year’s race and apply it to the 2023 competition.”

About the Drivers
Jill Ciminillo is a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality, podcast host, and the managing editor of Pickup Truck+SUV Talk. Find her on InstagramTikTokTwitter and YouTube at @jillciminillo.

Kristin Shaw has had a fascination with cars since her parents started taking her to classic car shows when she was a kid. Now she is a freelance journalist covering automotive and aviation for outlets like Popular Science, Edmunds, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, A Girls Guide to Cars, GearJunkie, Airport Improvement magazine, and more. She is the immediate past president of the Texas Auto Writers Association and a current member of the TAWA board. Find her on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @DriveModeShow and Twitter  or Instagram @KristinVShaw.

You can follow the Brute Squad at and

“As rookies in 2022, Jill and I learned how to navigate with paper topographical maps, brushed up on using a compass, and forged a strong partnership between the two of us and our Santa Cruz,” said Kristin Shaw. “We also explored the edges of what the Santa Cruz is capable of, and we’re looking forward to pushing it even further in 2023. Driving and riding in this unique vehicle was even better than we expected, and we already knew that Hyundai is delivering great cars to the market. We can’t wait to test out the new enhancements that Hyundai has made to our vehicle for 2023.”

About the Santa Cruz
Last year, Ciminillo and Shaw worked closely with Hyundai engineer Eric Buxton to fit the Santa Cruz with gear directly from Hyundai and aftermarket companies like Rally Innovations, Truxxx, Gear Off Road, and Falken Tires. The custom rack on the bed of the Santa Cruz was designed to hold four MaxTrax traction boards, a matching full-size spare tire and wheel, and two shovels for digging out of deep sand. Genuine Hyundai accessories and aftermarket components were selected so customers can customize their own Santa Cruz. The updates include:

  • A Rally Innovations front recovery mount with Baja Designs lighting and a light bar on the roof attached to genuine accessory cross rails
  • Rally Innovations front bumper lower protection attached to a genuine accessory skid plate
  • Rear spare tire mount with MaxTrax and shovel mounts
  • Gear Off Road 17-inch wheels and Falken Wildpeak AT tires that match the overall size of the original 20-inch tires, but allow for low pressure use in the sand dunes
  • A Truxxx 1.5-inch lift kit (1.5-inch front, 1-inch rear)
  • A Terratrip rally computer
  • A fun exciting wrap showcasing the design elements embodied in a Santa Cruz, ready for work, home, surf and mountain sports
  • The OEM antenna was disconnected to eliminate GPS information in the vehicle
  • Bose supplied music on a USB memory stick for use while cellphones were not allowed

The Santa Cruz also has:

  • Multi-utility, secure open bed that provides diverse gear-carrying flexibility
  • Powerful and efficient 2.5L turbo powertrain with HTRAC® AWD capability
  • Compact footprint provides superior maneuverability in an open-bed configuration
  • 8.6 inches of ground clearance stock
  • And is proudly built at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) in Montgomery

You can follow the Brute Squad’s Journey in October on Instagram @TeamBruteSquad and on Hyundai Motor America social media channels.

Off-road driving can be dangerous, and Hyundai Motor America encourages drivers to consult their owner’s manual and take appropriate safety precautions before using their appropriately equipped vehicles in off road conditions.

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