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.