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Car review: Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited

To put the Hyundai Santa Cruz in perspective, think of this compact pickup, which was new for 2022, as a version of the automaker’s likable Tucson crossover (with which it shares a platform) with a big, open-air cargo hold.

Power for the Santa Cruz comes from either a naturally aspirated or turbocharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, depending on the trim level. The turbocharged version in our top-of-the-line Limited trim test vehicle provided surprisingly zippy performance.

Add a well-tuned suspension, which delivers remarkably good handling and a decent ride quality, and you have the rare pickup that’s actually fun to drive. The Santa Cruz’s 8.6-inch ground clearance enables some mild off-pavement exploring.

Inside, there’s good room up front along with a host of desirable features, ranging from heated front seats to an available 10.25-inch infotainment display. The rear seats are another story, with their distinct lack of legroom and backs that are too upright for comfort.

The 4.3-foot bed may be small, but clever features like a lockable retractable bed cover and an underfloor storage bin with a drain plug (think built-in ice chest) help make the most of the space available. Factor in a 5,000-pound maximum tow rating and you’ve got a small pickup that can do big things.

Vehicle Layout: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder (281 hp), 8-speed automatic, AWD

MSRP, Base Model/As Tested: $25,700/$41,500

MPG, City/Highway/Combined: 19/27/22 (AWD)

Safety Ratings: NHTSA, IIHS: not yet rated

Basic Warranty: 5 years/60,000 miles

Spare Tire: Compact temporary

Final Assembly: Montgomery, Alabama

Takeaway: Perfect when a pickup is too much and a crossover too little

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