The new class of truck is growing, not EV but “Compact.” Hyundai Santa Cruz joins Ford Maverick bringing back the “Mini Truck.” You remember them, the Chevy LUV, from Isuzu, Dodge D50, from Mitsubishi, and Ford Courier by Mazda. Of course there was Toyota “Pickup,” and Datsun “620” truck. I use to call them “motorized wheelbarrows because of their size. But they were useful, good fuel mileage, you could reach tools in the bed floor without a ladder. Most had diesel options from the “oil crisis” of the 70’s. Hyundai, doesn’t call it a truck, it’s a Sport Adventure Vehicle, “SAV.”
Izzy and I drove the Santa Cruz Limited AWD truck up Poudre Canyon. My first in a Hyundai, the Limited was loaded. Heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel. Of course power seats, tilt and telescope steering wheel. I like the auto diming head lights, then there is the roll up tonneau cover. Though the rolled up part takes up too much space, it has the come out to load my smallest ATV. Rear bumper has corner steps like GM trucks and Avalanche, my favorite bumper. The front grill is covered with LED lights, they look cool. The whole truck looks sporty, reminding me of the Avalanche, El Camino and Subaru Baja. The 20″ wheels, part of the Limited package, makes the look.
The Cruz has paddle shifters for the 8-Speed dual-clutch auto transmission. The All Wheel Drive comes with 2.5L turbo 4-cylinder. 281 horsepower and 311 torque. Without a trailer it’s plenty zippy on the highway. It didn’t come with hitch, so no trailer review. I was looking forward to towing the rated 5000 lb. trailer. The AWD system has a button to lock the center diff (transfer case.) Rated at 27 mpg on highway by the EPA. It is sporty and a lifestyle truck with a trunk that can hold ice with a drain plug. Smaller trunk that what’s in the Honda Ridgeline. Front room was good for adults, rear seat not. The Cruz was smooth on the highway do to 4-corner independent suspension.
I do like the 5 year, 100k powertrain warranty Hyundai has had for years. The Santa Cruz surprised me with autonomous driving assist called HDA. With adaptive cruise control and lane departure, just set the cruise and a green steering wheel appears on the screen. I’m sure it’s just a level 2, it did well in the lanes. The Speedometer turn into a warning screen when the truck wants you to grab the wheel every 4 to 6 minutes. On curves it was a little worrisome, as it made curves in a jerking motion. The Tach and Speedo change with the turn signal to screens from the camera that shows you all along the side which GM trucks have, I like that. The mini 4 ft. bed, had adjustable cargo tracks, lights and the cover. The bed is surprisingly 19″ deep.
What I don’t like on the nice size 10.3″ touch screen, yes touch screen was “finger drift.” I like real buttons, trying to push the touch screen for fan, radio, volume, heat etc. bouncing down the almost finished Colorado roads is difficult. Many times my finger would bounce to the button next to the button I wanted. Great size for parking at Walmart. The Cruz is 4 inches shorter than the Ford Maverick, 12″ shorter than Honda Ridgeline. The retail price on our review model is $41,540. But that’s OK, you can put 3 hay bales in the bed and close the tonneau cover.