UPDATE 11/10/21: This overview has been up to date with check outcomes for a 2.5T mannequin.

Breaking into the profitable truck market is not for the faint of coronary heart. Subaru’s Baja lasted 4 quick years, Honda needed to butch up the appears of its Ridgeline to safe a seat on the desk, and even Toyota’s T100 stumbled till it turned the V-8-powered Tundra. And who can neglect the Ford Explorer Sport Trac? It will appear that to reach this phase, your truck had higher look and carry out like, properly, a truck.

In what could also be an try and handle expectations, Hyundai is not utilizing the “t” phrase to explain its new entry, as a substitute referring to it as a “Sport Journey Car.” Hyundai even goes as far as to say the Santa Cruz wasn’t designed as a mid-size truck competitor, however one have a look at the bundle and it is exhausting to categorise it as the rest.

Andi HedrickAutomotive and Driver

Drive it and you are not so fast to make use of the “t” phrase. The Santa Cruz rides on an prolonged model of the Tucson crossover’s platform, with struts up entrance and a multilink suspension with self-leveling dampers out again. Its 118.3-inch wheelbase (practically 10 inches longer than the Tucson) contributes to a relaxed and composed journey, with not one of the rear-end skittishness generally current in a full-size pickup with an empty mattress. Maneuverability round city is carlike. At 195.7 inches lengthy and 75.0 inches vast, the Santa Cruz simply slots into parking spots. Pushed with haste alongside two-lane again roads, the Santa Cruz is agile, remaining comparatively flat by way of the corners.

The highest-range Restricted instance we examined had loads of punch to associate with its strikes. Borrowed from the bigger Santa Fe, its turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four kicks out a significant 281 horsepower. An eight-speed dual-clutch computerized channels the torque to all 4 wheels. Off the road, this powertrain will wait a beat earlier than its turbo begins charging, but it surely shortly builds a head of steam, delivering a stout 311 pound-feet of torque from 1700 to 4000 rpm. The run to 60 mph takes a decent 6.0 seconds flat, and the quarter-mile passes in 14.5 seconds at 98 mph. Aided by a light-for-a-truck 4132-pound curb weight, that is sufficient thrust to outaccelerate all of the gamers in our most up-to-date comparability check of mid-size pickups, all of which weighed in extra of 4500 kilos. Likewise, our instance’s 0.82 g of skidpad grip and 171-foot cease from 70 mph additionally would’ve been adequate for prime honors in that analysis.

Lesser Santa Cruz fashions ditch the turbo and the dual-clutch for a 191-hp 2.5-liter and a standard eight-speed computerized. The bottom 2.5-liter musters simply 181 pound-feet of torque and is one thing we would skip. We have not examined that model but, however in an all-wheel-drive Tucson, the nonturbo 2.5-liter ends in a sluggish 8.8-second time to 60 mph. Entrance-wheel drive is customary right here, with all-wheel drive a $1500 choice. There is no hybrid variant, however for the reason that Tucson options each hybrid and plug-in variations, we predict the intently associated Santa Cruz will comply with swimsuit sooner or later. When it comes to gas economic system, the usual 2.5-liter 4 holds a slight benefit: an EPA mixed estimate of 23 mpg versus the turbo mannequin’s 22, though our check automobile did common 30 mpg on our 75-mph freeway check, bettering its freeway estimate by 3 mpg.

Regardless of its Tucson underpinnings, the Santa Cruz is able to trucklike actions. Turbo all-wheel-drive fashions are rated to tow 5000 kilos, and even the bottom front-drive setup can tow 3500 kilos. Trailer sway management, a perform of the stability-control system, helps mitigate untoward trailer motions and comes customary on all fashions. Off-road excursions are additionally potential, as 8.6 inches of floor clearance is sufficient to get you into the tough stuff. An honest 23.2-degree departure angle will make sure you’ll get out of most reasonably troublesome conditions with out leaving the rear bumper on the path. The journey itself won’t be completely clean, as we discovered that the stickiness of the Santa Cruz’s floor-mounted throttle pedal could make it troublesome to keep up a clean crawling pace.

Andi HedrickAutomotive and Driver

Duality of objective however, the true make-or-break characteristic right here lies out again. The place most truck beds are a clean canvas, that is extra of an artist’s toolkit. Because the Santa Cruz is designed solely for the North American market, the event staff labored to bake within the type of usability and flexibility that might enchantment to the outdoor-adventure set entrepreneurs love to focus on. Key to this mission is a dent-resistant molded composite mattress (versus stamped metal), which allowed the staff to make the most of each sq. inch of the area—whether or not it is in, below, or atop the mattress.

Full of cubbies and hidden compartments, the Santa Cruz’s plastic mattress is extra intricate than a puzzle field. Simply as within the Honda Ridgeline, there is a lockable underfloor cupboard space situated shut sufficient to the tailgate that it is easy to retrieve gadgets with out straining your self. Drain plugs make it an ideal place to maintain drinks on ice. Extra storage might be discovered on the edges of the mattress behind the wheel wells, together with an AC energy outlet with sufficient present to run a small fridge. There are tie-downs all through, in addition to an adjustable cleat system. The area above the wheel wells is vast sufficient to accommodate four-foot-wide sheets of plywood.

Andi HedrickAutomotive and Driver

Hyundai additionally went bonkers on the equipment. No matter merchandise your pastime requires, the Santa Cruz can possible safe, retailer, and transport it. With the tailgate down, it might probably accommodate a few grime bikes or kayaks. A manufacturing unit tonneau cowl retracts to the entrance of the mattress and is so much simpler to make use of than the folding jobs seen on some pickups. Precut tabs on the highest of the mattress rails might be punched out so as to add a cover system. And when was the final time you noticed a truck with roof-mounted crossbars?

Climb in and you may uncover a refined inside largely shared with the Tucson. A fairly hushed 67 decibels of noise creep into the cabin at 70 mph, with full-throttle pulls registering solely 72 decibels on our sound meter. The instrument panel and infotainment display are neatly tucked into the sprint, relatively than being mounted on prime. The result’s a clear, low-profile dashtop, which permits for wonderful ahead visibility. The Santa Cruz accommodates tall passengers in each rows, with loads of headroom and first rate legroom within the rear. Like many pickups with small sliding rear home windows, objects that cross by way of are restricted to issues the dimensions of soccer balls and six-packs.

Andi HedrickAutomotive and Driver

The middle stack options all of Hyundai’s newest tech. Most fashions characteristic an 8.0-inch touchscreen, with wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto customary. Unique to the Restricted trim is a ten.3-inch display with navigation. As with the Tucson, the system with the bigger display cannot do wi-fi telephone mirroring; you may should plug in your telephone prefer it’s 2018. Most controls surrounding the system are of the capacitive-touch selection; they appear modern however appeal to their justifiable share of fingerprints and are not as user-friendly because the bodily buttons present in different Hyundai fashions. In what’s a primary for the model, a tiny little Santa Cruz emblem adorns the controls for air recirculation and hill-descent management. The Santa Cruz’s inside and exterior is peppered with different Easter eggs.

Regardless of what Hyundai claims, these little illustrations certainly resemble the form of a truck as a result of the Santa Cruz’s silhouette says truck. However the exterior lacks the upright and squared-off look that characterizes conventional pickups. The styling is a muscular and bulked-up tackle Hyundai’s newest design language, and the massive, daring grille filled with brightwork is good-looking. However the Santa Cruz appears like a crossover-turned-pickup. It makes no try to cover its roots.

Andi HedrickAutomotive and Driver

Arguing how truckish it’s or is not is perhaps enjoyable for web arguments (Please remark beneath—Ed.), however the greatest impediment for the Santa Cruz may very well be its value. Base SE variations start at $25,215 and embrace a great quantity of normal gear, however choosing the turbo requires a further $10K. Prime-spec Restricted fashions start at a steep $40,945. This pricing turns into a problem when you think about a world the place the equally sized Ford Maverick exists. A Maverick begins at only a hair over $20,000 and options a normal hybrid powertrain that is good for a 37-mpg mixed EPA fuel-economy score; extra highly effective turbocharged variations prime out at a still-frugal 26 mpg mixed. The Maverick additionally options extra typical truck styling, which could make it extra engaging to extra typical truck consumers. However Hyundai is taking one other tack—it stays to be seen if its gamble will repay. So maybe the query turns into: Would you like a truck, or would you like a Santa Cruz?

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