A big part of why people buy pickup trucks is because then they can haul things around in that big empty box at the rear. Often heavy things. That’s why the payload capacity of a pickup truck is a big deal—buyers want a sense of how much heavy stuff they can actually haul around. People who are interested in Hyundai’s exciting new small pickup truck, the Santa Cruz, are no different, and will use that payload number to help them decide if they want this new truck. That’s why it’s a big deal that the payload numbers being given for the Santa Cruz don’t seem to match reality.
The most commonly cited number for the payload capacity of the Santa Cruz is 1,748 pounds. That’s a pretty decent number, and it’s the one we referenced in our first drive of the Santa Cruz, and it’s what’s on Hyundai’s website, and referenced in a number of articles on other sites, including ones that compare it favorably against its most direct upcoming competition, Ford’s Maverick pickup, which Ford says has a 1,500 payload.
Really, though, Santa Cruz payload capacity numbers seem to be all over the place. Some say it has at least a 1,600 pound rating, this one gives both 1,748 and 1,785 pounds, we’ve got 1,853 here—this is pretty clearly not a definitive number, whatever it is.
Just googling it gives an especially unhelpful range:
And, other Hyundai sources provide more detail for each spec of the truck, ranging from 1,521 to 1,753:
So, what’s the reality here? A reader named Michael who actually went to look at one helpfully sent us a picture of the Santa Cruz’ doorjamb sticker that lists the official weights and capacities:
As you can see there (I’ve highlighted it for you in blue) the sticker just gives a total payload capacity of 1,411 pounds, over 300 pounds less than the most commonly cited payload number for the Santa Cruz. That’s a pretty big difference, and, significantly, is less than what Ford is claiming for the Maverick.
Just so you know I’m not taking Ford’s word just on faith, I reached out to Ford and had them send me the doorjamb sticker for the Maverick, in Lariat Hybrid spec:
So, 1,519 pounds! That’s more than the 1,500 claimed, so all good there.
The doorjamb stickers don’t lie; but, just to be safe, I looked at the owner’s manuals for the Santa Cruz, selecting all of the different trim options, and they all gave the same number:
So, 1,411 pounds, like the doorjamb sticker says. This number is also one I have not seen at all in any promotional website or media about the Santa Cruz. It’s also worth noting that the manual warns not to exceed 661 pounds in the bed itself—at least that’s what I think they mean by specifying “cargo.”
Now, I do realize that payload capacity can be a tricky thing. Different trims of vehicles can have wildly variable payload capacities, since the capacity factors in the entire weight of everything on the car. If you have an upgraded infotainment system that weighs two pounds more than the base-level one, the capacity drops by two pounds. If there’s a bedliner in there that weighs 25 pounds, subtract that. Every extra feature built into the car has to have its weight subtracted from the total payload capacity, which is why higher-spec vehicles tend to have lower payloads.
That’s why I downloaded the owner’s manuals for every configuration on Hyundai’s site—for what it’s worth, they all seem to be the same manual, and only note the 2WD and 4WD versions, both of which are 1,411 pounds.
And, when calculating payload of what’s in the car, remember, it all counts. Is there a 16 ounce drink in the cupholder? How much do you weigh? Are you wearing a heavy hat? Everything adds up.
The problem here is that the only really “official” seeming numbers that I could find—the door jamb and owner’s manual numbers—are significantly lower than the various payload numbers for the Santa Cruz that are being referenced online, by both Hyundai and independent media.
I reached out to Hyundai to see if I could get some sort of official confirmation on the payload capacity of the Santa Cruz, which I wouldn’t have thought would be too big a deal, but it’s taken two days, and as of press time I was only told that they are “seeking the final detail confirmation.”
I’ll update the story as soon as I get Hyundai’s official numbers, which I’m now very curious to hear. I mean, how hard is it to look up this number?
This is a big deal because the payload capacity has been referenced a lot as a differentiator between the Santa Cruz and the Maverick, and, let’s be honest, how much weight a truck can carry is important.
Potential buyers may have very specific requirements, and buying a truck and then learning that it’s 300 pounds shy of what you need to carry is no fun for anyone.
Hyundai needs to be up front with the actual payload capacity of the Santa Cruz. If you’re considering buying one, I’d think the smart thing to do would be to go by the doorjamb sticker and owner’s manual, and use the 1,411 pound number for your comparisons.
It’s still a very appealing truck, even at a capacity of 1,411 pounds. Hopefully Hyundai can explain why this payload capacity number has been reported as being so much higher than it actually seems to be.