2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz AWD Review and Off-Road Test
If youve looked at trucks lately, you probably noticed that theyve not only become bigger and more complex, they also can be tremendously expensive, but not everybody needs the ability to tow a house or climb a mountain. Some folks just want to move boxes to storage or toss kayaks in the back without compromising economy or drivability. A one size fits all option that gives the benefits of a crossover and the utility of a truck. In the 1970s, my dad had a red datsun pickup. The engine made less than 100 horsepower and it couldnt tow pretty much anything, but it was good at carrying kids bikes, wet dogs firewood or whatever else our young family needed to move around. It was small, but immensely useful, though, were not allowed to carry kids in the back of a truck anymore. So many other aspects of an active lifestyle could benefit from the utility of a small truck its time in a way to turn back the clock. Ford being a leader in trucks, saw this coming. You can find our review of the maverick pickup later this year. It is based on the popular broncosport unibody chassis and can be had in two wheel. Drive hybrid trim, starting at 21 490, including destination pay about 4k. More for an all wheel, drive powertrain. The other new entry is more of a surprise. This is the 2022 hyundai santa cruz, based on the tucson crossover. The santa cruz features stunning looks in an easy to drive package.
It starts at 24, ‘0 us dollars, including destination. The model were looking at today is the loaded limited with all wheel, drive, upgraded tech and a turbo engine prices. You see it here, forty thousand nine hundred and forty five us dollars, including destination. One thing i have to commend hyundai on is the fact that this looks so much like the concept that they unveiled a little while ago. It looks like a concept: car come to life all the way down to the 20 inch wheels yeah 20 inch wheels. So between this and the tucson there are some significant differences. First off the all wheel, drive system has been tuned differently. Also, it has a longer wheelbase where the tucson is about 108 inches long. This has a 118 inch wheelbase yeah 10 inches longer what they do with that extra space. Is they give you plenty of room in the second row and then also, of course, tack on a truck bed thats the whole point right: our test vehicle has the larger of two engine options: a 2.5 liter turbocharged direct injected four cylinder that makes up to 281 Horsepower and 310 pound feet of torque its connected to an eight speed: dual clutch transmission epa rates, this setup at 19, miles to the gallon in the city and 27 on the highway when properly equipped hyundai says the santa cruz with a turbo engine and all wheel Drive can tow up to 5 000 pounds, though the thought of towing that much with this vehicle does make me uncomfortable.
This is, of course, using hyundais h, track all wheel, drive system that is based on a clutch pack in the middle. That means that is predominantly front wheel. Drive itll then engage the clutch pack to send power to the back when necessary. Now, if you want to tell the computer that you would really like all wheel drive to be working at its maximum capacity, you can hit the center lock button, but do not confuse it with a differential lock. It doesnt even have a center differential to lock. So that is a common misconception about the hyundai all wheel. Drive systems. Hyundai has definitely thought through this whole truck thing. They include everything from a easy release: gate a stowable cover. It even has its own trunk. Its very similar to what you would find in the honda ridgeline, but in the ridgeline, its much deeper, making it more useful. Still, this does have a drain, so you could fill it with ice and use it as an ice box on the side. You have these little sliders that are easy to move, and then you also have two cubbies on the side. This one is just a cubby and then on the other side here we have a power socket close that up its kind of nice that they include the pull, strap now lets check out. The second row can an adult fit back there. In the second row, we have a sliding glass window, theres, also a 60 40 split on the seats.
Both these sides pull up and theres an additional storage bin right here, although i think personally, i would prefer not to have the bin and just have more of a flat floor, but you know everybody is different. Okay, this seat is where i would be sitting im. Six foot one legs, torso proportionate. I have room, although not a lot. It is a little snug back here, a little basket there for items. I have a cup holder on the side and two usb sockets as well as some vents, but i dont have any controls. I dont have any heat in the second row, which, when youre getting into the mid 40s, is something i would like to see, which is especially weird because hyundai actually offers that usually on their more expensive trims in the second row and the sunroof is so small. Im feeling a little claustrophobic in here, but its not too bad. I mean i do fit and i think thats kind of the key thing here and they had to make room for the truck bed because they only extended the vehicle. An extra 10 inches over the tucson and yeah. I think this is where you lost the space, but its doable. Of course you dont buy one of these to be a passenger. You want to drive it its an interior that i am familiar with, because it looks just like the tucson started on up. We get a nice gate cluster and i really like how this doesnt have a shade, yet its perfectly easy to read even in bright direct sunlight, its just kind of amazing thing.
I also like the design of the gauge cluster itself, though it doesnt really give you much in terms of customization, because all you can pretty much do is toggle through settings here i am averaging about 20 and mixed driving, which is a little lower than the epa Rates you can see navigation. The display itself does change slightly. If you go into different drive modes, itll go from normal to sport, smart and to snow. You will note that there is no off road mode. Those are not available in u.s market cars because of a licensing issue. Hyundai does hope to have it cleared up soon, but dont expect a car you buy today to get that update, whether hyundai does it or not thats on them, and then the steering wheel here is really nice. Its sculpted plastics here, i think, are a little on the cheap side, but i do like the leather and it does have paddle shifters at this price range. You also get lane detection with auto, steer and thats just part of the advanced safety stuff that were kind of you know coming to a point of just expecting in these vehicles. This one does come nicely loaded. It has collision mitigation. It has, of course, the adaptive cruise control with lane centering blind spot warning, rear, cross traffic alerts, put it into reverse here. It even has a full surround view camera which you can configure and you can use it a bit like a trail cam off road, which we will test later.
If youre not used to driving a truck. You will notice that there is no warning for when your bed is left open, even though this is pretty normal for trucks. I would still like to see some indication on the dash for the inevitable time that i forget to close it up now as much as i like this display moving to the center stack, i think visually for new buyers, its amazing. However, i have concerns about long term viability of this system, because this is all piano black. You are touching piano, black somewhat touch sensitive buttons, and i just cant imagine that thats going to look good after five years of touching with dust and dirt on it and which basically creates little micro scratches. This is going to wear something horrendous. I think time will tell maybe they have some coating on it. Thatll make it better, but i doubt it i much prefer physical buttons. This looks good, but i think, from a practicality perspective, its not going to be great long term. We do get dual zone climate control here, lots of controls with that and my seat does have a lot of power adjustments, in addition to being both heated and cooled, and then the steering wheel also is heated. Another thing i like to see in these vehicles. You know, because you know if youre getting an all wheel, drive little mini truck youre, going to drive it in the snow right, its kind of nice to get in and warm your hands up on the steering wheel.
Now, because this is a truck, they went with more of a truck like shifter unit there for controlling the automatic transmission, and this is an eight speed, automatic twin clutch, but its a wet twin clutch. So i hope that it doesnt overheat when we take this off. Roading later below the transmission thing, we have all these various little buttons. We can hit the lock button, which basically tells the computer to lock up that center clutch as much as possible. We have hill descent control and then i can also turn on and off the parking cameras right here now lets dive into this display. Weve looked at this on other vehicles. It is touch base. There is no button set up to control it. The home screen is super simple and i think its a little too simple id like to see some more information here, but once you dive into it once you decipher what the graphics mean its pretty straightforward, i mean we have a map here. Lets go ahead and try a voice search. Please say a command find the nearest cafe. Lotro, hey you found it lets, go to the one in urban plaza. Okay, so we know that nav works. Pretty good lets go back to the home screen. How do i get to the home screen? I see nothing that says home screen whats that can i pull that? Oh thats, a little side tray! Oh wait! Why is it controlling? Why is it controlling that? I dont get that well anyway.
Now i have my home button back, i can go to theres blue link. I can do climb it up here if i dont want to do it down here. It gives me a few more options on the side. Lets look at xm satellite radio, so here a large phase, 3, a randomized. We have the kind of old style, tube numbers for some reason. I i just find that to be a bit hokey, i think its unnecessary. I much prefer clarity in my systems as opposed to funky retro, hipster style digits, maybe youre different great. This also supports apple carplay and android. Auto wireless is not available in the fully loaded trim. For some reason, however, i can plug it. In now, we have apple carplay, and i really like apple carplay on this display, its just a nice like ultra wide display its kind of cool again turn that down. I would just prefer a knob to turn. Did nobody learn anything from the honda debacle and then, of course, with carplay? I can have my multi faceted overview page, which is nice, even though it doesnt support wireless carplay. It does support wireless charging. Climate control is dual zone, which you would expect at this price point and you get again its using the little touch things which arent great but theyre what you get with this vehicle. Okay, so overall i do like this interior. I find it to be attractive. I just have some concerns about long term wear of some of the touch surfaces, but you know i like the fact that it has the big shifter.
I like the fact that it has ventilated seats and i think the visibility forward is quite good. The c pillar, however, you cant really see well through that so thats not ideal. There is this plastic right here, i think, could be a little bit nicer, its hard plastic here, its soft over here. It looks much better on this side but yeah. I think this is pretty good. The sunroof is on the small side, but im glad to see that there is a sunroof option here and the visors thats pretty good. A little pull out would be nice here. Uh some have a little extension. This does not. I do, however, get a mirror, but its not illuminated oh kind of surprised, its, not illuminated right well, weve looked at all the features now lets take it onto the freeway as we head out to our off road test course. Yes, we are going to test this on the sidewinder, so were going to start this review off, where a lot of people are going to drive their santa cruz, and that is on the freeway. Merging out of the freeway is easy, with the 2.5 liter turbocharged engine and yeah its true, both um top and bottom trims have a 2.5 liter. However, upper trims have a turbo 2.5 liter. This is good for 281 horsepower and over 300 pound feet of torque, which makes merging and driving really easy. This is, of course, loaded with the latest in safety technology.
We have collision mitigation, blind spot warning uh. It also has lane detection with adaptive cruise control. Lets give that a try turn it on by pushing a button here i can turn on or off lane detection, and then i can set my distance and voila itll steer itself now, of course, this is a level two system which means that it does require driver Intervention, this is not an autopilot system, but then again, what really is these days there arent any at least none that you can buy today in the u.s. Now, tracking is quite good, even in this little spittle of rain, its doing a fine job of keeping centered on the track, and so far it hasnt complained to me, which is kind of nice. Usually, these systems complain almost immediately that you take your hands off the wheel. This ones doing little corrections its pacing the vehicle in front of me. Now it says, put your hands on the wheel, okay, so why would you want a level two automation system? Well, it really helps with long distance driving, thats kind of the whole point to make it so the driver doesnt have to always steer and keep their muscles tight and then thats. You end up with like sore shoulders. This kind of alleviates that on long trips now granted people who do long trips, all the time, learn how to adjust for that, but some people – you know every few months, maybe once or twice a year and and this system does really good its tracking dead center.
Its finding the vehicle in front of me, its not freaking out over every little thing i actually rather like it now. You might have noticed when i switched lanes there that the center gauge cluster actually turns into a blind spot camera view which is kind of a cool trick. It doesnt excite me but im sure some people will be like whoa thats, pretty awesome and visibility isnt too bad, although that c pillar is way wider than i would like, but its serviceable. I dont feel like im being constricted in my view here. The interior is nicely illuminated from the sunroof and just overall, its just a nice cabin to hang out in, and this seat is actually really deep and fairly comfortable. Now i am going to be driving all the way out to our test hill, so i will report later as to how comfortable this seat is after an hour of driving, because our test site is an hour and a half outside of town. But first lets jump off the freeway and check out how the santa cruz does on some side routes where well do a 0 to 60 and also test out these different drive modes. You hear any thuds in the back its because i have gear in the truck bed and, of course, yeah that kind of flops around Applause. There are a variety of drive modes here now in normal power, a little slow to come on, but once it builds boost it gives you a little get up now.
Lets switch it into sport. I do like the gauge animation, thats kind of cool, although i would like it to give more of a change like give me a different style of view, but at least it does change colors. So you absolutely know what mode youre in so even just driving on the road here. It is kind of giving me little taps to stay in the lane because it does have a lane detection system that is fairly obtrusive. However, i just hit a button there and itll shut it off. So, if you dont like it, you dont have to turn it on now that were in sport mode. You know the throttle doesnt feel much different. I guess its a little quicker to come on. The steering is much tighter, though i much prefer this feeling in the steering rack its more precise, still a little bit on the vague side, but it is responding to inputs quicker and doing more with every little turn, which is good. Other drive modes include smart, where it basically will try to predict what youre doing, based on how youre driving and then theres also snow, which i believe starts out in second gear lets. Uh see if snow is really slow off the line, because you dont want wheel. Spin in the snow – oh yeah, thats, so sluggish, wow, yeah, okay, uh, unfortunately, were too early in the season were not going to see any snow to test that in, but well have to just assume that that will work.
Fine, okay, lets go back to sport. Mode. Looks like we have our gauge cluster up lets: go ahead and test a zero to 60. now, because this has a 118 inch wheelbase, yes, 10 inches longer than the tucson its based on. It does mean that turning around isnt, quite as precise lets line up here for a 0 to 60., were using our gps timer, which does allow for one foot of roll out just so. You know everybody times a little bit differently, which is why its hard to compare numbers, so you can only really compare our numbers against our own numbers were in sport, mode and theres. Nothing else to really do here were just going to throttle it and go 2500. Is actually where the boost kicks in so thats, pretty quick and 60 6.25 seconds, its actually quite good for a vehicle of this size nicely done hyundai, because this has a multi link suspension setup in the back, which is a way more advanced setup than you would Find on a typical pickup, it just handles rough surfaces and curves better than a traditional pickup. So if youre used to a crossover or a car – and you want the utility of a pickup, but you dont really want to drive something that drives like a pickup. This is a great option. Now you just need to make sure that it meets all of your criteria. This particular model can tow up to 5 000 pounds, which is quite a lot, and personally, i would never want to tow 5 000 pounds with a vehicle.
This small to me, that is nuts i would probably tow no more than about maybe 4 000 in a pinch, but probably i wouldnt feel comfortable anything over 3 500 pounds, which is what the lower versions of this vehicle also tow, because you dont really want to Be towing, something that is just gon na. You know totally push your tow vehicle around. You want something where the tow vehicle is in command and considering this thing weighs under 4 000 pounds. You have a huge differential there. So, if youre pulling something 5000 pounds with a vehicle thats under 4 000 pounds to me that doesnt seem like a good idea. However, hyundai says you can do it. Maybe you want to limit that to short distances, though, but thats just me, even though the model im testing is the high end limited and its priced at around 40 grand you dont have to spend that much. Obviously, these start at around 28 000 for a naturally aspirated version that is, with two wheel, drive, add on a little money and get all wheel drive. So you can get this with all wheel, drive and a standard. Eight speed automatic. You know for mid 20s, which is to me a pretty good value now. Will it do everything that you want dont go into it thinking? This is a you know, an f 150, clearly, its, not its, not even a frontier for, for that sake, uh. It is its own thing, so just think of this as a crossover that happens to have a truck bed and if thats, something that is useful for you say you want to go to the garden center or you need to, like you know, just haul some stuff Around thats not terribly heavy, the santa cruz is a great choice.
Applause now that ive been driving for about an hour and a half. These seats are really comfortable still, they are wrapped in leather and they hold me nicely, but i especially like how deep they feel. I have a lot of lateral support, which i really didnt expect in a small pickup. When i have a turbocharged engine, i have a tendency to really use the turbo a lot and get into boost when you do that. Your mpgs plummet as such im getting about 20 mpgs overall with a little side road and a lot of freeway. According to the epa, we should be getting 22 on the highway and i think that thats probably achievable on a level surface, with a really light throttle Applause. So now that were on the dry side of washington state its time to hit our test hill and see how well the all wheel drive system works in this santa cruz and on these side roads i can actually switch it into sport. So sport mode does something more than just engine and steering wheel and shift points. It also will tell the all wheel drive system to push more power to the back, so just driving normal around the hills here and um. It is primarily front wheel, drive and you feel that from so much power i mean this is a lot of power for a little vehicle yeah. It feels like im pulling around the corners now when i switch into sport mode itll be more aggressive at putting power to the back.
Yes much more neutral turn in its just a better driving experience and that experience extends onto gravel. Let me show you: first, the santa cruz is set to traction off and normal drive mode. Here you can see power kick to the back wheels after one full rotation of the wheel. Next in sport mode. It basically looks the same, even in this view, side by side youd be hard pressed to see the difference in how power is transferred in this one scenario, keep in mind all wheel. Drive systems monitor a lot of real time inputs, and this result is merely for a hard start on a slippery surface. Kind of a loose gravel surface here lets floor into the corner and see how much power goes to the back Music. Oh, it just doesnt want to get too disrupted nope, but i am feeling power going to the back, so yeah h track for the win, at least in this situation. Okay enough goofing around now lets head to our test hill and put this all wheel drive system to the test here on our test hill, we have a number of very complicated courses im going to start off with something very simple: testing out the hill descent control. Now, hill descent control is very useful if youre going down a very steep hill that has loose surface difficult traction, something where you need to go straight and sometimes just hitting the brakes isnt good enough.
This will manage both braking and everything else to make sure that the vehicle stays true, and i love this front view camera. That is a gorgeous front view camera. I want more cars to have that lets, go ahead and put this into the right mode. Now i have smart for the drive mode, which doesnt really matter so once i get to the steep part here, i just hit this button for downhill, brake control and it turns on now i dont have anything i can manage here many vehicles, if you toggle cruise Control it will adjust the speed. Not so here, paddle down, pedal up nope you get one size fits all okay, im gon na put the brakes on that upper section, pretty normal very flat down. Here we have a number of offset ditches, so i want to see how well this does keeping the vehicle true or, if were going to go too fast. It is kind of a one size fits all which isnt really ideal, so thats, okay for basic downhill situations, but anything too complicated and youre going to want something more advanced like some of the vehicles that allow you to change, speed, increments, all the way down to One mile per hour, because this santa cruz has 8.6 inches of ground clearance. I feel pretty confident taking it over the logs. We havent taken a lot of crossovers over this yet, but even the subaru crosstrek i was able to get over it and yeah.
The crosstrek has a good all wheel, drive system, but it doesnt have any like extra special off road features. So this bodes well for hyundais h, track its just slowly easing up now with the crosstrek um i actually did have all terrains. Now they were all terrain trails, but they were all terrain tires on it. So right here, you should be able to see the articulation in the back. How high that wheel, lifts that just demonstrates that this doesnt have the same kind of articulation. You would find in a real truck now lets look at some features here to make sure that were in the right mode, a lot of people. Last time i had issues with htrack said why dont you try snow mode, so lets do snow mode. That should cut throttle and be more aggressive with power distribution lets see if its true slow throttle its keeping oh its trying not to spin the wheels ooh hey internet. I think you were right now. First log, you have to be really careful. Some manufacturers are very, very, very particular, about getting scratches on their cars. Hyundai is one of them, so i want to make sure im not hearing any scraping throttle is all the way down now the way that these clutch pack systems work, because, yes, this does use a clutch pack in the middle. I can hit middle lock and that doesnt actually lock a differential because theres no differential, there is a clutch pack and it will engage and disengage as necessary, lets kind of back up just a little bit to get a little bit more momentum.
Through this, i do like that front camera, but it does shut down. Quite a lot. Come on you gon na. Do this im full throttle and its just cutting power and having trouble getting over this log. This, i dont think, is doing anything its trying its trying. Now you might be asking. Why is there no trail mode and i think that comes down to the licensing of the tech? Yes, everybody else has it, but for some reason, hyundai is unable to put it into their usa cars. I believe canada has it and rest of the world uh. We, however, do not well snow mode isnt getting us through that. So, im going to go to smart mode im going to back up just a little bit. Oh also were on 20 inch top with 20 inch wheels, which are not great come on. You gon na get through this man its having its struggling over these logs. Its kind of what i was expecting now i have to be really careful when charging, because when you charge you can high center scrape the bottom dent something. Did we get? Oh okay, that was a bit of a struggle, but it did get through it. Considering this struggled on the logs im going to do the bypass, so the hard part is like a foot deep of just like sand. Even for the most advanced four wheel drive systems. The bypass is really just a super steep grass road, and we kept the grass on it so that the hill stays intact were not just digging into sand.
Okay feel that power shift around getting us up the hill im just crawling up, because i want to. I want the all wheel drive system to do the work i dont want it to be merely momentum getting us up now. I do need to carry a little momentum around this corner. Keep throttled in throttle in throttle in come on. You got this. Oh boy ive been to this party before so the problem here is: i have a bush right behind me and uh its going gon na scratch. This thing up something fierce if i hit it so im gon na try to navigate around this. I did not expect this part of the course to be so incredibly difficult, but its that soft sand were just gon na have to charge this uh, otherwise, im gon na back up into a barbed wire fence, okay throttle in, can we get through it, threw it Through it, through it, come on come on come on come on come on, come on, yes did it now. I know normally im like oh, let the all wheel drive system do the work, but um yeah. I dont want to be sitting there all day. I could tell we were just going to go for a repeat of the issue that i had with the crosstrek and the crosstrek had all terrain trail tires on it, this just all seasons, even considering that this just had all season tires on it.
I would say it just did. Okay, the fact was is that it, the h trac system, when really pushing its limits, just cannot redistribute that power fast enough and strong enough to get you out of really sticky situations. We havent yet driven the new ford maverick, but if youre looking for a small inexpensive, all wheel drive truck, we did price out both the lowest cost ford and the hyundai options. A maverick xl can be optioned with the 250 horsepower, 4 cylinder turbo engine 8 speed, automatic and all wheel drive for 24 795 us dollars, including destination a base, santa cruz sc with 191 horsepower, naturally aspirated four cylinder engine and all wheel drive can be had for 25. 490 us dollars. Of course, the santa cruz includes lane keep assist as standard equipment, adding that to the maverick with the 360 option package raises its price to 25 335. That means price is basically a wash if youre trying to decide, and you have dealers for both vehicles nearby. I think the real factor will come down to which design you prefer the conservative approach of ford or the retro future bold look of the hyundai either way. We could be entering a new era of small truck nirvana and we are totally here for it for driving sports tv im, ryan douthit, thanks for watching be sure to subscribe, like our videos and share them and tell us what you think is this new santa cruz.