The Hyundai Santa Cruz is a car-based pickup (“cruck”) built on the company’s crossover-SUV platform which also underpins the Santa Fe and others. This is a good mix of utility. Debuting in 2022, the 2024 model year sees a little content shuffling.
What makes the 2024 Santa Cruz a solid option is its capability. It has a good-sized cargo bed for most weekender uses, can tow about 5,000 pounds, and it rides and feels like a crossover-SUV instead of a truck. Those are all good things that many looking to avoid the body-on-frame pickup truck designs are looking for. The Santa Cruz is smoother, more comfortable, and gets better fuel economy. All upsides.
Of course, what makes body-on-frame-style trucks like the Toyota Tacoma and the Ford F-150 popular is off-road readiness and huge towing and hauling capabilities. Things the Santa Cruz isn’t going to be good at. But most people don’t need those things. They just need to hit up the hardware store a few times a year and may help their friends move or tow a boat.
There are two powertrain options for the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz. The engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. On the lower-trim models (SE, SEL), it produces 191 horsepower to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is optional. On upper trim level options (Night, XRT, Limited), the 2.5L gets turbocharged to 281 horsepower and AWD becomes standard.
Either of these are a good fit for the Santa Cruz. The turbo adds a lot more umph and appeal, of course, but the standard engine is more than capable as well.
There are a few downsides to the Santa Cruz’s design, though. The seats are a little flat and uncomfortable and the rear seating is cramped due to the truck’s small footprint. Rear visibility through the mirrors and over the shoulder isn’t good either.
Other than those issues, though, the Santa Cruz is a great vehicle to drive. It’s nimble, comfortable on the road, and capable of covering most people’s regular truck needs.
The only comparable on the market is the Ford Maverick. The Maverick is cheaper, but also cheaper-feeling by comparison. It has less capability in most of its packages as well, so cross-comparing is difficult. Price comparisons are muddied by that variance, so comparing base models doesn’t work. The choice will come down as much to style as it will anything else.
Overall, we really like the 2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz. It’s a good truck with more going for it than a first glance might suggest.