If you compare the size of small pickup trucks from 20 years ago with the entry-level trucks on sale today, you'll notice that everything has ballooned up a size class. That's why we call the Tacoma, Frontier and Colorado "midsize trucks" — for many years, small trucks were simply no longer a thing. But Hyundai saw a big opportunity to revive the small truck class, and thus was born the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz.
The Santa Cruz, however, doesn't utilize the typical body-on-frame truck architecture. Hyundai instead took a page out of the Honda Ridgeline's playbook, repurposing the platform of a car-like SUV (the Tucson) and adding a 4-foot truck bed behind a cozy cabin that can accommodate five passengers. Some purists may not consider the Santa Cruz a true truck for this reason, but we say if it has a bed and quacks like a truck, it's a truck. You know?
In any case, we recently got our hands on a new Santa Cruz Limited with the upgraded turbo engine and put it through its paces at our test track. Here's how it lines up compared to other trucky vehicles.
How does the Santa Cruz perform?
We tested a Santa Cruz Limited with the stronger turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. According to Hyundai, it pumps out an impressive 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, increases of 90 hp and more than 100 lb-ft over the standard engine (more on that in the next section). An eight-speed dual-clutch automatic backs it up, distributing power to all four wheels.
On our scales at the test track, this Santa Cruz weighed in at 4,128 pounds, which is significantly heavier than the last Tucson we tested (3,694 pounds), although that vehicle had the non-turbo engine and a conventional automatic transmission.
From the driver's seat, you'd be hard-pressed to discern that there's a truck bed in the back. Trucks typically transmit a certain type of vibration when going around corners or over bumps due to their body-on-frame foundations, but there is no trace of that in the Santa Cruz. It drives as if it were still a small SUV. In our handling test around the skidpad, the Santa Cruz managed 0.85 g, which is unsurprisingly comparable to what the Tucson recorded (0.87 g). To put this into perspective, the best skidpad figure for any midsize truck we've tested is 0.81 g (Honda Ridgeline, shocker!), and the worst was 0.70 g (Tacoma TRD Pro, shocker again!).