Hyundai Santa Cruz vs. Hyundai Tucson

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

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is the latest addition to the brand’s lineup. Although it competes with other compact pickup trucks like the Ford Maverick, the Santa Cruz shares its platform with the redesigned Tucson crossover.

That results in an interesting choice for utility-minded buyers: Tucson or Santa Cruz? Crossover or pickup? Here's a comparison of some of the key pros and cons to help you decide which model is worth the money.

What the Hyundai Santa Cruz Gets Right

The Santa Cruz’s main advantage is, of course, its bed. Although it’s small by truck standards, the four-foot bed is impressively versatile. A nifty in-bed trunk can double as an ice chest, and a lockable tonneau cover comes standard.

The Santa Cruz prioritizes capability more than the Tucson. Properly equipped, the pickup can tow up to 5,000 pounds, while the Tucson maxes out at 2,000. The Santa Cruz has slightly more ground clearance, too.

Finally, the Santa Cruz starts cheaper than its sibling. In base form, the pickup is almost $1,000 cheaper than the crossover.

Read Our Overview of the Hyundai Santa Cruz

What the Hyundai Tucson Gets Right

To make room for the Santa Cruz’s bed, however, Hyundai had to chop down the cabin. As a result, the Tucson comes out ahead on passenger space. Rear passengers enjoy almost five inches more legroom than they’ll find in a Santa Cruz.

Both models are available with two powertrains. The base engine is shared, but the Tucson’s optional upgrade is a hybrid. While it isn’t quite as powerful as the Santa Cruz’s optional turbo engine, the hybrid earns an impressive fuel economy rating of up to 38 mpg combined. A plug-in variation is on the way, too.

Though the two share a platform, the Tucson’s simpler body saves weight. It’s over a foot shorter and around 400 pounds lighter than the Santa Cruz. As a result, it’s slightly more agile and easier to fit in a tight parking spot.

While the Santa Cruz is cheaper in base form, the Tucson is more affordable in higher trims.

Read Our Overview of the Hyundai Tucson

Closed or Open?

In many ways, the Santa Cruz is a logical evolution from the market’s recent crossover craze. If small SUVs are so popular, why not small pickups?

The Santa Cruz makes a strong argument on value and capability. It won’t challenge larger trucks, but its added towing capacity and versatile bed are tempting advantages.

In the end, however, the Tucson has it where it counts: cabin space and efficiency. For buyers who don’t need the unlimited cargo space of an open bed, the Tucson makes more sense.

Our Verdict

Small pickups like the Santa Cruz will find plenty of buyers thanks to a pleasant blend of utility and livability. In this case, we think cabin space and utility still give the edge to the Tucson.

Compare Side-By-Side: Hyundai Santa Cruz vs. Hyundai Tucson

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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