What we're driving: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is one of those "neither fish nor fowl" vehicles: It's an SUV crossed with a pickup truck — and I love it.
The big picture: Truck devotees will complain that the 4-foot-bed is too short, or that the Santa Cruz can't haul a giant RV or motorboat. (For the record, it can tow up to 5,000 pounds.)
- But for the vast majority of urban dwellers whose big adventure is an outing to the garden center, this is the perfect vehicle.
Details: The Santa Cruz drives like a crossover SUV, which isn't surprising, since it's based on the same basic underpinnings as the Hyundai Tucson.
- That means it's refined and easy to park, which non-truck people will appreciate.
- Some reviewers have complained that the standard 2.5-liter engine is underpowered, but I drove the turbocharged all-wheel-drive option, which, at 275 horsepower, had plenty of get-up-and-go.
One of my favorite features was the Santa Cruz's lockable, roll-up metal tonneau cover.
- At a tailgate, we packed our valuables in the bed and safely locked them away while we went to the game.
- The extra storage below the bed (similar to a Honda Ridgeline) was especially handy.
Other goodies: The Santa Cruz Limited also featured a 360-degree camera system, heated and cooled seats, a premium Bose sound system and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
- Android smartphone users can use a phone app as their digital key.
- The optional 10-inch touchscreen is lovely but difficult to use, with no buttons — keeping your eyes off the road for too long.
The Santa Cruz comes with a full suite of standard safety and available assisted driving technologies.
- Hyundai's highway-assist technology was a bit overbearing at times, though.
The bottom line: The Santa Cruz starts at about $24,000, which is higher than Ford's new Maverick compact pickup. And at $39,720, the Limited AWD I drove seems downright expensive.
- But if it fits the bill for weekend warriors, that's OK.