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Hyundai Santa Cruz: Perfectly Blended SUV Truck! 

  • Car News
  • Ralph Robert
  • 8 minutes

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Is the Hyundai Santa Cruz an SUV? Is it a crossover, or is it a pickup truck? According to Hyundai, it’s a Sports Adventure Vehicle (SAV)! The Korean automaker plans to go big and bold by placing the Hyundai Santa Cruz as an SAV. While there have been similar cars like the Ford Maverick, and Subaru Outback Wilderness, Hyundai is the first to market a car as an SAV! Want to know more? Here’s everything you need to know about Hyundai Santa Cruz. 

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Why Is Hyundai Santa Cruz Marketed as an SAV?

Santa Cruz Hyundai

Hyundai Santa Cruz is a unique car that features a unibody construction. From the front, it looks like a traditional SUV. However, it also has a pickup truck bed, which makes it more of a truck. When everything is combined, the Hyundai Santa Cruz looks like a blend of SUV and Truck.

Even though there were similar vehicles, most of them were introduced as compact trucks or pickups. Most pickup trucks also come with a body-on-frame construction. By introducing Santa Cruz as an SAV, Hyundai made sure they stood out and got the spotlight by being the first in the new segment. 

What Year Did the Hyundai Santa Cruz Come Out? 

Hyundai Santa Cruz made its debut in 2021 and was initially released as the first SAV in the North American market. The car looks very similar in body style to most compact pickup trucks but features a unibody style. This led to Hyundai introducing the car as an SAV that is based on the Hyundai Tucson Crossover SUV. Basically, the SAV looks like Tucson with a truck bed and comes with four doors.  

Is Santa Cruz a Car or Truck?

This is a long-standing debate with no clear answer! Visually, the Hyundai Santa Cruz looks like a pickup and can be driven like a truck. However, the specifications and the interior all make it look more like a car! It looks like a truck, but as a driver, you see it as a car. It feels like a car, but it has the practicality of a truck. In a way, it’s safe to say that Hyundai took equal proportions of an SUV and a pickup truck to make a Sports Adventure Vehicle (SAV)!  

At the end of the day, it all comes down to how an individual sees the all-new Hyundai Santa Cruz. We could even assume that Hyundai introduced the Santa Cruz as an SAV because they themselves were not sure if it was a truck or car! 

What Are the Specifications of Hyundai Santa Cruz?

Hyundai Santa Cruz

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is available in five different trims – SE, SEL, Night, XRT, and Limited. All these trims are powered by a 2.5 inline, 4-cylinder engine. Higher-end trims, like the Night edition, XRT, and Limited trims, come with an inline 4-cylinder turbo engine. While the 2.5L inline 4-cylinder produces 191 hp, the turbo variant engine produces 281 hp.

The SE and SL variants come with front-wheel drive (FWD) as standard. However, the Night, XRT, and Limited trims all come with all-wheel drive (AWD) as standard. The SE and SL trims of Hyundai Santa Cruz come with an 8-speed automatic transmission but miss out on Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). All three of the remaining variants get an 8-speed wet DCT gearbox with paddle shifters! 

The Santa Cruz Hyundai also gets 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS as standard for all the trims. They also come with advanced safety features like a forward collision avoidance system, a blind-spot view monitor, and six airbags. Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Traction Control System (TCS), and Brake Assist (BA) are some of the other safety features.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is available in six different color options: California Sand, Hampton Gray, Blue Stone, Phantom Black, Atlas White, and Sage Gray.  

How Much Is a Hyundai Santa Cruz?

Hyundai Santa Cruz is competitively priced with a base price of MSRP of $26,650 for the SE variant. All other variants are priced higher, with the SEL variant having an MSRP of $29,400. It should be noted that these entry-level variants miss out on a lot of premium features. For instance, the SE and SEL variants don’t get an eight-speed DCT transmission. Higher-end trims like the Hyundai Santa Cruz Night edition start at $38,210, with the XRT variant starting at an MSRP of $39,850. The top-of-the-line Santa Cruz Limited starts at an MSRP of $41,070.  

Is the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Santa Fe Same?

Hyundai Pickup Truck SAV

No, the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Santa Fe are two entirely different cars. The only similarity between the two cars is that they share the word “Santa .” That’s exactly where their similarity starts and ends.

The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a Sports Adventure Vehicle (SAV), whereas the Santa Fe is a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). The Santa Cruz comes with a truck bed that helps it serve the purpose of a truck and car. The Hyundai Santa Fe is a basic 4-door SUV that’s comes with three engine options. You can go for the 2.5L four-cylinder, 1.6L turbocharged four-cylinder, or the 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine.  

A stark difference between the two cars is their engine performance. While Santa Fe’s turbocharged engines provide more power and torque, Santa Cruz offers a refined engine that is more fuel-efficient. The 2023 Santa Fe is also available in six trims, which all offer various engine/gearbox setups. This, again, makes the two cars very different from one another. 

What Are the Different Trims of Hyundai Santa Cruz? 

Santa Cruz comes in five different trims that all offer a different experience from the other. Here is a breakdown of the various trims, starting with the base and ending with the top-of-the-line variant: 


Starts at MSRP $26,650 

The Hyundai Santa Cruz SE is the entry-level variant of the SAV that’s powered by a 2.5L GDI-MPI 4-cylinder engine. The Santa Cruz SE produces a total of 191 hp and comes with 18-inch alloy wheels. The SE variant is also available in five different colors, giving you plenty of options to choose from. Bi-LED projector headlights, an 8-inch color touchscreen, and an HTRAC All-Wheel Drive add-on are some of the highlights of the SE trim.  


Starts at MSRP $29,400 

The SEL trim is an upgraded version of the SE trim and comes with more add-on features. On top of the same engine, the SEL gets Bluelink Connectivity. Remote Start, Proximity Key with push-button start, and dual automatic temperature control are some of the other features of SEL. This trim also gets the same treatment on the interior and exterior. Colors are also similar, but you get add-on features like heated front seats. There is also an optional Activity Package that adds even more features like an integrated tonneau cover, conventional sunroof, roof side rails, and more. 


Starts at MSRP $38,210 

The Night edition has been one of the most unique variants from Hyundai in recent times. The Hyundai Santa Cruz Night Edition is the entry-level turbocharger variant. The car comes with a 2.5L turbocharged GDI-MPI 4-cylinder engine that produces 281 hp. Night edition features an all-blacked-out exterior with 20-inch dark alloy wheels, a dark front grille, accents, and fascias. The Night edition is only available in two color options – Phantom Black and Hampton Gray. The instrument cluster is also better with an upgrade to 10.25 inches.  


Starts at MSRP $39, 850 

The XRT variant comes with a 2.5L turbocharged GDI-MPI 4-cylinder engine. Producing a whopping 281hp, this is one of the fastest variants in the line-up. On top of the blacked-out night edition features, the XRT variant gets cruise control, stop and go, XRT wide fender cladding, and side steps as cosmetic upgrades. A power sunroof, wireless charging, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror are some of the highlights of the XRT variant.  


Starts at MSRP $41,070 

Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited is the top-of-the-line variant of the lot. It comes with the same 2.5L turbocharged GDI-MPI 4-cylinder engine. However, the Limited variant adds HTRAC All-Wheel Drive, Highway Driving Assist (HDA), Surround View Monitor (SVM), and Blind-Spot View Monitor (BVM). The Limited variant also gets 20-inch alloy wheels, a dark chrome tailgate handle, and ventilated front seats. The Limited Santa Cruz Hyundai is also the most expensive variant in the current lineup.

Wrapping Up 

The Hyundai Santa Cruz continues the path of innovation that the Korean car maker is currently on. There have been major facelifts across the entire lineup of Hyundai, and this shift has taken the brand to the next level of growth. With innovative concepts like the Hyundai Nvision 74 pushing the boundaries, Hyundai cars keep getting better and better. With the Santa Cruz and its many variants, Hyundai is starting an entirely new segment in the SAV. Santa Cruz is definitely a sign of many good things that we can look forward to from Hyundai.  

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