The Hyundai Santa Cruz Is The Ideal Adventure Truck for City Driving

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
Photo: Hyundai

A perfect truck for city driving that also duals as your weekend getaway vehicle? The Hyundai Santa Cruz is ready for it all.

Sounds impossible, but it’s true! Hyundai’s newest model, the Santa Cruz, is designed with your do-it-all lifestyle in mind. Looking for a smaller, maneuverable truck for city living that includes built-in safety features to keep the belongings in your truck bed safe? Check. Still not keen on sacrificing your weekend trips on the trail? No worries. Can’t decide between a truck and an SUV? You don’t have to. It’s all here.

Related: The 2021 Hyundai Palisade Is the Ultimate People Mover

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Photo: Scotty Reiss

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Photo: Scotty Reiss

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Photo: Scotty Reiss

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Plenty of space for the rugged things you need… Photo: Hyundai

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

…With plenty of secure storage for your valuables. Photo: Hyundai

Five-Star Feature: The Retractable Truck Bed Cover

Think about the traditional truck bed. It’s either exposed, or it features a cover that’s generally made of a softer material—which isn’t ideal when you’re driving and parking in populated areas. No one wants to worry about someone nabbing their toolbox, luggage or Yeti cooler while they’re parked in the city. Luckily, with the Hyundai Santa Cruz’s retractable truck bed cover, you won’t have to. Not only does that bed cover lock tight, but there are also hidden storage spaces in the truck bed that can add another layer of protection to your valuables.

Hyundai’s product planners told us that, when Hyundai surveyed consumers about what they wanted in a small pickup truck, this retractable bed cover was the most popular feature. And Hyundai has delivered in spades.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Photo: Scotty Reiss

Seriously. Hyundai has put in a ton of thought when it comes to truck bed versatility, so don’t be put off that the bed looks a little smaller than your standard truck bed at first glance. The company is trying to preserve the spacious cabin area of an SUV while still providing an open-air storage space in the back of the truck. To do so, they’ve included:

  • Bed extension
  • Retractable and lockable tonneau cover
  • Extra storage underneath the bed floor that can also be locked up
  • Tons of in-cabin storage
  • Integrated corner bumper steps
  • 48.4 inches of upper bed space, 52.1 inches of lower bed space

It truly is the best of both worlds.

Related: The 2020 Hyundai Sonata: K-Beauty Comes to Life In This Elegantly Redesigned Sedan

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Who’s ready for a little weekend fun? Photo: Hyundai

Interior Comfort, Exterior Capability

As we mentioned above, the Santa Cruz blends a spacious SUV-like cabin with an open truck-style bed to create what Hyundai is calling a “sport adventure vehicle,” which looks reminiscent of what Australians call a “ute,” or utility coupe.

The Santa Cruz is fairly small for a pickup truck, since it’s built on the Hyundai Tuscon base. Its length of 195.7 inches and width of 75.0″ makes it smaller than the Toyota Tacoma, which is great for city driving. It’s super maneuverable and makes parking and narrow side streets a breeze. That small size comes in handy while you’re off-roading because it gives you the ability to sneak through more complex obstacles.

There’s still tons of comfortable interior space with a gorgeous center stack that makes navigating the controls and infotainment system a breeze. The Santa Cruz is designed with long or bumpy drives in mind, so the seats are like leather-wrapped hugs. And yes, there’s extra storage under the rear seats.

Plus, it just looks damn good. There’s hidden lighting in the grille that provides gorgeous illumination to the otherwise rugged-looking machine. The wheel arches are beefy, and the side panels are built with strong lines to lend to the off-road looks. It has an impressive look that belies its smaller size.

Related: The Perfect Bubble Car? A Hybrid: How I ‘Bubbled’ for a Week in the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Photo: Scotty Reiss

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

The gorgeous leather seating is understated but perfect for a machine that does double-duty. Photo: Hyundai

Specs to Know

If the Hyundai Santa Cruz has tickled your fancy, you can rest easy knowing that the specs are just as impressive as it looks:

  • 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine as standard, which produces 190+ horsepower and 180+ lb-ft of torque. Paired to eight-speed hydraulic transmission
  • Optional 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with 275+ horsepower and 310+ lb-ft of torque. Paired to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters
  • All-wheel drive
  • 3,500 or 5,000 lbs towing capacity, depending on the engine
  • Wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay
  • Eight-speaker Bose sound system
  • Eight-inch touchscreen
  • Split-screen infotainment system to allow for multi-tasking
  • Wireless smartphone charging
  • Digital key

Pricing has not yet been released, but we’ll make sure to keep you updated as that information becomes available.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Need more space? The backseat storage has you covered. Photo: Hyundai

And Yes, Safety Galore

As you can imagine, the Hyundai Santa Cruz is well-equipped with the advanced safety technologies we’ve all grown to love and expect in a new car. We’re talking:

  • Forward collision avoidance
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Driver attention warnings
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • 360-degree camera
  • Rear cross-traffic assist
  • Safe exit assist
  • Smart cruise control

The first four options are standard, with the others coming as options on different trim levels.

The Santa Cruz also comes with something Hyundai calls its Blue Link connected technology, which is essentially an advanced suite of car controls that include things like:

  • Remote start with climate control
  • Remote door lock/unlock
  • Stolen vehicle recovery
  • Destination search
  • Remote profile management to save your drive settings
  • Vehicle status notifications to let you know if the doors are left unlocked
  • Enhanced maintenance alerts, so you know exactly what work your car needs

All of that adds up to make for an exceptionally exciting vehicle, one that you can feel safe in no matter where you are, whether that’s off-road or in the city.

I'm Elizabeth Blackstock, managing editor of AGGTC, blogger, journalist, novelist, editor, MA/MFA graduate student, wife, motorsport fanatic, and bearer... More about Elizabeth Blackstock