Hyundai’s Santa Cruz Limited AWD: A Sport Adventure Vehicle

Is it a truck or a car? Like the mythical centaur, which was half man, half horse, a first glance at Hyundai’s Santa Cruz looks like it’s two separate vehicles joined in the middle. But don’t be fooled, the 2022 Santa Cruz Limited AWD is all truck. But it is decidedly smaller than its rivals, which gives it several advantages. Its one-size-fits-all crew cab and short-bed body are perfect for hauling things, towing things and driving around town while also easily maneuvering parking lots and suburban roads. 
It’s a functional pick-up that is able to go from the city to the country with ease — and a sense of style. Yes, it’s a bit shorter than most midsize or full-size trucks but it brings enough towing, hauling and off-roading capabilities for most folks. It fits into a niche that Hyundai may have discovered. It’s a truck for those who want a truck but don’t need a truck. And, the ride, thanks to its car-like construction, is a lot more comfortable.
Hyundai dubs it a true “Sport Adventure Vehicle,” and we can go along with that. It has a sophisticated design, a powerful engine and open-bed flexibility. Let’s be honest. Sometimes we’re carrying gear and equipment that is better suited for an open bed than a typical SUV. We discovered that after a particularly successful shopping spree at the Container Store when our shelves wouldn’t have fit into the back of an SUV, especially with the seats up. No problem with the Santa Cruz.
The Santa Cruz has a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder powertrain that brings about 191 horsepower, but there is also an upgraded turbocharged engine that produces 281 horsepower thanks to a 2.5-liter four cylinder engine. It was developed with a focus on enhance driving dynamics and responsiveness that works well in urban settings as well as needed agility in off-road terrain. 
Luckily for those days when you just want a comfortable ride, the Santa Cruz delivers the best of Hyundai with a 10-inch infotainment screen, lots of in-cabin storage and ambient lighting. The Limited, the most expensive version, featured leather seats, a heated steering wheel, a moonroof and a front-seat experience that was a delightful (and comfortable) blend of a car and the gravitas of a truck. It was the first time we used Remote Engine Start where we cooled down the interior before entering. Perfect for hot or freezing days.
The Limited AWD gets a combined 22 miles per gallon on a 17.7 gallon fuel tank. While the SE trim starts at around $23,9000, the Santa Cruz goes all the way up to $39,720 for the Limited.
It’s interesting. The Sport Adventure Vehicle is a unique concept and similar to the Three Bears, it’s not too big, not too small. It is, in fact, just right.

Mary Welch


Editor, award-winning journalist and author

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