Hyundai Santa Cruz vs. Honda Ridgeline

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 - October 4, 2021

A new type of pickup truck is entering the scene. Hyundai’s new Santa Cruz is the latest in a series of trucks based on unibody crossover platforms — in this case, the Hyundai Tucson.

The Santa Cruz heads into combat with the original modern unibody truck, the Honda Ridgeline. Does the Hyundai have what it takes to win out? Here’s our comparison of some of the specs and features to help you decide which truck is best.

What the Hyundai Santa Cruz Gets Right

The Santa Cruz is smaller than the Ridgeline, and it’s much cheaper. Even the cheapest Ridgeline costs $37,715 after destination fees, while the Santa Cruz starts at about $25,000.

Thanks to their crossover bones, both pickups drive well. Surprisingly, the Santa Cruz has over an inch more ground clearance. Neither is an off-road specialist, but the Santa Cruz has an edge away from the pavement.

While it starts with a naturally aspirated engine, a turbo powertrain is optional on the Santa Cruz. With it comes a 5,000-pound towing capacity, equal to the Ridgeline’s. With either powertrain, the Santa Cruz is more efficient.

Like all Hyundai’s models, the Santa Cruz comes with a stellar warranty. Limited and powertrain coverage extend much longer than Honda’s, and 3 years of complimentary maintenance are included.

Read Our Overview of the Hyundai Santa Cruz

What the Honda Ridgeline Gets Right

The Santa Cruz may be cheaper, but the Ridgeline comes with a standard V-6 engine to justify its price. The Santa Cruz can match that grunt by adding its optional turbo engine, but doing so brings the two trucks much closer in price.

The Ridgeline is nearly a foot and a half longer than the Santa Cruz. That translates to a much larger bed — the Ridgeline’s box is over five feet long, while the Santa Cruz has about four feet. Of the unibody trucks currently on the market, the Ridgeline is the only one that can fit a standard 4x8-foot sheet of plywood flat on the floor.

Both trucks come with a handy under-bed trunk, and again the Ridgeline has more space. The story is the same inside the cabin, where the Ridgeline has more shoulder room and rear legroom.

Finally, the Ridgeline has a slight edge in safety tech. Every Ridgeline comes with advanced features like adaptive cruise control, which is reserved for the top Limited trim of the Santa Cruz.

Read Our Overview of the Honda Ridgeline

A Question of Size

The difference between these two boils mainly down to size and space. For pickup buyers who want bed space, the Ridgeline is a better option. For others, the Santa Cruz may offer better value.

In most other respects, the two trucks are fairly similar. Towing capacity is equal, the payload is similar, and both drive well (for a pickup). The Santa Cruz offers better efficiency, more ground clearance, and the option of a cheaper powertrain. The Ridgeline’s real advantage is its size.

Our Verdict

This is a close battle, and the Santa Cruz is a strong new contender for thrifty shoppers, but we give this round to the Honda Ridgeline. If you can live with the short bed, Hyundai’s feature set and warranty make it a worthy choice. But practicality is the main draw for pickup buyers, and on that account, the Ridgeline still comes out on top.

Compare Side-By-Side: Hyundai Santa Cruz vs. Honda Ridgeline

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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