2024 Hyundai Santa Cruz


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Hyundai divided the Santa Cruz lineup in a way that creates two very different versions of the compact pickup. The entry-level SE and the SEL are served by an underpowered 191-hp four-cylinder that’s available with either front- or all-wheel drive. Three better-equipped (and more expensive) trims come with a peppy 281-hp turbo-four and all-wheel drive. These are the Night, the new XRT that replaces the SEL Premium, and uppermost Limited trims, and they best reveal the Santa Cruz’s balance of pleasant driving and get-things-done practicality. Top trims also get the best tech and nicest interiors, with the tradeoff being fewer physical controls and more reliance on touchscreens. Pickup truck fans can debate whether this is a “real” truck, yet the 2024 Santa Cruz still makes a nice package for those who understand what they’re getting. When equipped properly, it rides and drives like the Hyundai Tucson SUV it’s based on, yet this Hyundai quietly performs a range of everyday truck duties thanks to its cargo box and 5000-pound tow rating. As we wrote, “You can forget it’s a truck until you need it to be one.”

What’s New for 2024?

Hyundai has replaced the SEL Premium trim with a new XRT variant, following the template set by the Palisade XRT, Santa Fe XRT, and Tucson XRT. The Santa Cruz XRT mixes cushy features from the former SEL Premium with husky gear from the current SEL and the optional Activity Package. Buyers will find items like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, black faux-leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control, and Hyundai’s Digital Key combined with wider fender flares, side steps, and bed rails. For the rest of the lineup, LED projector headlights become standard throughout. All trims also receive haptic feedback through the steering wheel for lane keep assist and blind spot collision avoidance. All but the base SE trim are equipped with dual-zone climate control and an automatic defogger. The SEL Activity Package adds a 10.3-inch infotainment screen; the Night, XRT, and Limited trims get the screen included. Finally, the Night trim gets the same faux-leather upholstery as the new XRT.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

We recommended the SEL Premium previously. Rebranded as the XRT, we think it’s still the one to get. Admittedly, this trim presents a steep MSRP climb over the SE and SEL, but the more powerful turbocharged engine is a must for anyone who cares about acceleration. The more potent engine also lifts the tow rating to 5000 pounds, and the XRT comes with all-wheel drive that’s a costly option on the SEL. There’s some rugged-looking equipment to heighten the aesthetic, and dark chrome trim to boot.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

There are two powertrains available for the Santa Cruz, with the engine choice decided by the trim. The SE and SEL fit a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, shifting through an eight-speed automatic transmission. When we tested the same motor in the Hyundai Tucson SUV—on which the Santa Cruz is based—we found the acceleration sluggish at best. The Night, XRT, and Limited trims come with a turbocharged 2.5-liter four with 281 horses and 311 pound-feet, figures much better suited to urban driving. This engine gets an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. All trims except the SE can be had with all-wheel drive. The Santa Cruz is shorter and lower than its segment rivals, which makes it easier to maneuver around town. The top-of-the-line Limited model we drove showcased the truck’s refined ride and agile handling.

Towing and Payload Capacity

When optioned with base four-cylinder, the Santa Cruz is rated to tow 3,500 pounds. With the premium turbocharged engine, the little truck’s tow rating matches that of the only other unibody trucks in this class, the Honda Ridgeline and Ford Maverick. All are capped at a 5000-pound towing capacity.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

Equipped with the base engine and front-wheel drive, the 2023 Santa Cruz is rated at 22 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Adding all-wheel drive drops city and highway figures by 1 mpg. The turbocharged version has estimates of 19 mpg city and 27 highway. We ran a turbocharged Santa Cruz on our 75-mph fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, and it returned 30 mpg highway. For more information about the Santa Cruz’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

Hyundai has a habit of designing interiors that look more expensive than they are. The Santa Cruz benefits by having one of the nicest cabins among both the compact and mid-size pickup segments. It’s the first truck in its class to offer a fully digital gauge cluster, and we appreciate that it has a traditional shifter on the center console instead of a rotary knob or pushbuttons. The Santa Cruz is only available with a four-door crew cab, and passenger space in the front and the back is competitive with similarly sized trucks. Its cargo bed is one of the shortest in the segment at about four feet long, but it’s very versatile, with a lockable tonneau cover and a useful in-bed trunk that’s similar to what the Honda offers.

Infotainment and Connectivity

The base SE and SEL come standard with an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen. The SEL can be optioned with a larger 10.3-inch display, the three trims above come with it. Crisp graphics and smooth operation are pluses; however, we think the company’s decision to omit any physical controls is a misstep. Digital features include wireless device charging, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and Hyundai’s Blue Link services provided free for three years. With Blue Link, owners can do things like remotely lock and unlock the doors and start the Santa Cruz by using an app, the Internet, or Amazon Alexa. Inside, the best sounds are had with the Bose premium audio setup, but it’s only available on the Limited trim.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

The Santa Cruz offers an array of driver-assistance technology, including a standard driver-attention warning and optional adaptive cruise control. For more information about the Santa Cruz’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:

  • Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
  • Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
  • Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Hyundai—along with its corporate counterpart, Kia—has long offered one of the best warranty plans in the industry, with especially noteworthy powertrain coverage. The company also offers complimentary scheduled maintenance that bests mainstream rivals such as Toyota.

  • Limited warranty five years or 60,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
  • Complimentary maintenance covers three years or 36,000 miles
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2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited AWD

Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door pickup


Base/As Tested: $40,945/$41,140

Options: carpeted floor mats, $195


turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, port and direct fuel injection

Displacement: 152 in3, 2497 cm3

Power: 281 hp @ 5800 rpm

Torque: 311 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm


8-speed dual-clutch automatic


Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink

Brakes, F/R: 12.8-in vented disc/12.8-in disc

Tires: Michelin Primacy LTX

245/50R-20 102V M+S


Wheelbase: 118.3 in

Length: 195.7 in

Width: 75.0 in

Height: 66.7 in

Passenger Volume: 104 ft3

Curb Weight: 4132 lb


60 mph: 6.0 sec

1/4-Mile: 14.5 sec @ 98 mph

100 mph: 15.2 sec

130 mph: 32.3 sec

Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.4 sec.

Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 6.4 sec

Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.3 sec

Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.3 sec

Top Speed (gov ltd): 133 mph

Braking, 70–0 mph: 171 ft

Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.82 g


Observed: 18 mpg

75-mph Highway Driving: 30 mpg

Highway Range: 530 mi


Combined/City/Highway: 22/19/27 mpg


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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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