Ford Maverick vs. Hyundai Santa Cruz

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - September 30, 2021

Compact pickup trucks are on the rise. With pickups and crossovers gaining popularity, manufacturers are starting to use crossover platforms to offer affordable, entry-level trucks.

Two prime examples are the new Hyundai Santa Cruz and the upcoming Ford Maverick. Both are all-new models and slot beneath mid-size offerings like the Ford Ranger. Which is the better buy? Here's a brief comparison of key specs and features to help you decide.

What the Ford Maverick Gets Right

Ford has priced the Maverick aggressively. At a starting price of about $21,500 after destination fees, the Maverick is almost $4,000 cheaper than a base Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz is priced closer to the Ford Ranger.

The price difference is especially surprising given that the Maverick is the larger of the two trucks. Its wheelbase is 2.8 inches longer, which gives the Ford more legroom in both rows. The Maverick’s bed is also a couple of inches longer, though both boxes are short by pickup standards.

The ace up the Maverick’s sleeve is its hybrid powertrain. The base engine is assisted by an electric motor, delivering a projected EPA rating of 37 mpg combined. That’s excellent for a pickup, and it far outstrips the Santa Cruz’s 23 mpg combined.

Read Our Overview of the Ford Maverick

What the Hyundai Santa Cruz Gets Right

The Santa Cruz may be more expensive, but it comes with more power. The base engine has more torque than the Maverick hybrid, and the optional turbo engine makes an impressive 281 horsepower.

As a result, the Santa Cruz has a higher payload and towing capacity. Payload maxes out at 1,748 pounds (the Maverick can handle 1,500), and a properly equipped Santa Cruz will tow up to 5,000 pounds (against the Maverick’s 4,000).

Hyundai’s greatest asset may be its warranty coverage, which remains among the best in the industry. The Santa Cruz is covered for five years or 60,000 miles, and the powertrain warranty extends up to 10 years or 100,000 miles. Complimentary maintenance is included for three years or 36,000 miles. The Maverick has no complimentary maintenance, a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty, and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read Our Overview of the Hyundai Santa Cruz

New Kids on the Block

Both of these trucks are appealing choices for urban dwellers or first-time truck buyers. Although the Maverick is slightly larger, practicality differences between the two are slim.

Value and powertrain are likely to be greater considerations. The Ford’s hybrid efficiency is a major differentiator, as is its low base price. The Hyundai offers slightly more pulling power at the cost of efficiency, but its stellar warranty helps the value proposition.

Our Verdict

We give this round to the Maverick, pending further drive tests. On paper, the Maverick’s price advantage is too much for even Hyundai’s warranty to overcome. We’ll update our reviews when we’ve driven the Maverick — stay tuned.

Compare Side-By-Side: Ford Maverick vs. Hyundai Santa Cruz

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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