7 Surprising Facts About the Hyundai Santa Cruz You Didn't Know

Hyundai's genre-bending Santa Cruz is a true original that blends the versatility of a compact pickup with the comfort and drivability of a crossover SUV.
Written by Jim Belt in Trucks

This innovative hauler delivers a blend of utility, efficiency, and refinement that shatters expectations for what a small truck can be. Here are seven impressive facts about the Santa Cruz that will likely surprise you:

7. It's Built on a Car Platform

Unlike body-on-frame trucks, the Santa Cruz utilizes a unibody car-based platform derived from the Tucson SUV. This gives it a far more settled, comfortable ride compared to traditional pickups. The unibody construction not only enhances ride comfort but also improves handling and overall driving dynamics. This design choice makes the Santa Cruz feel more like a car in terms of maneuverability and smoothness, providing an excellent driving experience on both city streets and highways. The Santa Cruz's car-like platform also contributes to a quieter cabin and better fuel efficiency, making it a practical choice for everyday use.

6. It Has a Locking Tonneau Cover

The Santa Cruz's composite bed includes a sturdy retracting tonneau cover to secure cargo. Even more impressive, it has an integrated locking system to deter theft. This feature ensures that your belongings are safe and protected, whether you're parked in a busy urban area or out on an adventure. The retracting design of the tonneau cover allows for easy access to the bed while providing a secure cover when needed. This thoughtful addition enhances the Santa Cruz's utility, making it ideal for those who need to transport valuable items without compromising on security.

5. The Cabin Rivals Premium SUVs

Step inside and you'd be shocked this is a pickup truck. The Santa Cruz's cabin delivers sedan-like comfort and refinement with available leather, heated/ventilated seats, and loads of tech. The interior is designed with high-quality materials and attention to detail, offering a luxurious feel that rivals premium SUVs. Advanced technology features such as a large touchscreen infotainment system, wireless smartphone integration, and a premium audio system further enhance the driving experience. The spacious and well-appointed cabin makes the Santa Cruz a comfortable and enjoyable vehicle for both short trips and long journeys, setting a new standard for pickup truck interiors.

4. It's a Fuel Sipper

Despite its brawny capabilities, the Santa Cruz is quite the fuel miser with an EPA rating of up to 27 mpg highway. That's hybrid-like efficiency for a truck. This impressive fuel economy is achieved through a combination of advanced engine technology and aerodynamic design, ensuring that the Santa Cruz delivers excellent performance without compromising on efficiency. The fuel savings make the Santa Cruz an economical choice for daily commuting and long-distance travel, helping owners reduce their environmental impact and fuel costs. This blend of capability and efficiency makes the Santa Cruz stand out in the compact truck segment.

3. It Can Tow Over 5,000 lbs

Don't let its car roots fool you - this little hauler can still tow a decent 5,000 lbs when properly equipped. Plenty of capability for boats, campers, and trailers. The Santa Cruz's towing capacity is supported by a robust powertrain and a well-engineered chassis, ensuring that it can handle heavy loads with confidence. This versatility makes the Santa Cruz a practical choice for outdoor enthusiasts, weekend warriors, and professionals who need a reliable vehicle for towing. The ability to tow substantial loads adds to the Santa Cruz's appeal, proving that it can handle both everyday tasks and more demanding hauling duties.

2. It Has a Clever Sliding Rear Window

The Santa Cruz features an innovative sliding rear window that allows you to easily extend cargo from the bed into the cabin for enhanced versatility. This unique feature adds flexibility to the truck's cargo management, making it easier to transport longer items that wouldn't normally fit in the bed alone. The sliding rear window also improves ventilation and accessibility, enhancing the overall utility of the vehicle. This clever design solution exemplifies Hyundai's commitment to innovation and practical functionality, providing Santa Cruz owners with added convenience and versatility.

1. It Offers a Tucson-Based PHEV Model

Perhaps the Santa Cruz's biggest surprise is the availability of a plug-in hybrid powertrain borrowed from the Tucson SUV, delivering an electric range up to 30 miles. This PHEV model combines the benefits of electric driving with the versatility of a pickup truck, offering reduced emissions and lower fuel consumption. The electric range is perfect for short commutes and running errands, while the hybrid powertrain ensures that the Santa Cruz can still handle longer trips and heavier loads. This environmentally friendly option makes the Santa Cruz an attractive choice for eco-conscious buyers who want the functionality of a truck without compromising on sustainability.

From its unibody chassis and premium cabin to its clever versatility solutions and hybrid powertrain option, the Hyundai Santa Cruz shatters assumptions about what a compact truck can be. It blends pickup utility with crossover comfort in a truly innovative package. The Santa Cruz's unique combination of features and capabilities makes it a standout in the market, appealing to a wide range of drivers who value innovation, comfort, and practicality. Whether you're looking for a versatile daily driver, a capable weekend adventurer, or an eco-friendly alternative, the Santa Cruz delivers on all fronts, redefining what a compact truck can offer.