Finally, after years of teasing, Hyundai has debuted its new 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup truck, and it’s unlike anything else on the market. Here’s a look at this small, all-wheel drive, 275+ horsepower pickup truck from Hyundai.
What we know so far: The standard 2.5-liter inline-four engine makes over 190 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, is hooked to an eight-speed automatic, and can tow 3,500 pounds. The optional engine, a 275+ horsepower, 310+ lb-ft turbocharged 2.5-liter four cylinder, gets bolted to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic (with paddle shifters!), and can tow 5,000 pounds.
There’s optional all-wheel drive, though I’m assuming the standard configuration sends power to the front wheels given that the engines are transverse mounted, and that the vehicle likely shares a number of architectural bits with front-wheel drive-based Hyundai SUVs.
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Hyundai wants you to exactly how small this truck is (it has a four-foot bed!) and has included this table in its press release to drive the point home:
When else have you seen an automaker include a picture that says “Our bed can’t even fit a standard mountain bike”? Hyundai clearly sees the Santa Cruz’s diminutive size as a positive:
Hyundai is keen to point out that, though the bed is small, there is under-bed storage, like what’s found on the Honda Ridgeline, the only other unibody pickup truck on the U.S. market:
One of the most prominent styling elements on the truck is its sail pillars between the bedsides and the back of the cab. These, as you may have read in my explainer “Mid-Size Trucks Don’t Need Frames,” which is about how unibody pickup trucks totally make sense (especially for manufacturers who aren’t tooled for body-on-frame architectures), are there to add torsional rigidity and bending strength. Normally, a ladder frame would take care of these tasks, or on a unibody vehicle, there would be a D-Pillar and roof, but without those, the sail-pillar has to take up the loads. I thin it looks great.
I also dig the stamped rear tailgate. All trucks should have stamped tailgates.
The interior looks decent. There’s a big, chunky gear lever like truck-owners seem to like (though I’m not anticipating this Hyundai getting many conquest buyers from Chevy or Ram), there’s a squared-off gauge cluster display in front of the steering wheel, and the dash has some nice wrap-around vents at the top:
A powerful, small, all-wheel drive, dual-clutch pickup truck with sharp, good looks? Add good fuel economy on top (we don’t have any figures yet), and this could be a very compelling machine, especially for outdoorspeople.