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To help members understand the latest automotive technology so they can purchase vehicles that best suit their needs, the Automobile Club of Southern California's Automotive Research Center (ARC) began testing and reviewing vehicles over a decade ago

For the 2023 edition, we include testing and ranking cars and light trucks with the latest technology, including having at least one advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) feature. In addition to vehicle evaluation, the guide covers a number of pertinent automotive topics in detail—for example, the latest advanced safety features, how to properly maintain your vehicle, and new vehicles coming to market in the next few years.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited AWD

Vehicle Type: Pickup Gasoline
 overall score
Category Ranking: 4

Vehicle Price

Base Price: $39,720
Price as Tested: $41,100

Fuel Information

Fuel Type: Regular
Fuel Capacity (gal): 17.7
EPA City mpg19
EPA Highway mpg27
EPA Combined mpg22
with specific headlights

Advanced Safety Features

  • Adaptive Cruise Control [O]
  • Advanced Headlights [S]
  • Automatic Emergency Braking [S]
  • Blind-Spot Warning [O]
  • Driver Monitoring [S]
  • Forward-Collision Warning [S]
  • Lane-Departure Warning [S]
  • Lane-Keeping Assistance [S]
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Warning [O]
  • Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking [O]
  • [S] Standard, [O] Optional

Overall Observations

New for 2022, the much-anticipated, hot-selling Santa Cruz can perhaps best be described as a snazzy-looking compact pickup with the DNA of an SUV; it shares a platform with the compact Hyundai Tucson. Available in a crew-cab configuration only, the Santa Cruz has a carlike ride and handling and a spacious interior in both rows. Standard equipment includes a self-leveling rear suspension, a strong suite of ADAS features, a composite bed, and a locking tailgate. Hyundai’s sophisticated HTRAC AWD system for improved traction, automatic LED headlights with high-beam assist, heated and ventilated front seats, and a retractable, lockable tonneau bed cover are a few of its optional features. Despite its small bed (about 4 feet square) and limited payload and towing capacity, the Santa Cruz may be versatile enough to satisfy folks who don’t require a brawnier vehicle - if they can overlook some of its negative qualities. For starters, the standard engine is underpowered and has noticeable throttle hesitation; it’s linked to a jerky and harsh-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. (A more powerful, turbocharged engine is standard on the top 2 trim levels.) In addition, the infotainment controls are distracting and hard to use, and the backseat is uncomfortable, with an awkward seating position. Rear and side visibility is poor because of the Santa Cruz’s high beltline, and fuel efficiency (22 mpg in combined city/highway driving) is subpar.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Strong Points

  • • Carlike ride and handling qualities
  • • Spacious interior front and rear
  • • Strong suite of ADAS features
  • • Excellent overall utility

Weak Points

  • • Underpowered drivetrain with throttle hesitation
  • • Jerky, harsh-shifting transmission
  • • Distracting, hard-to-use infotainment controls
  • • Uncomfortable backseat, awkward seating position

Vehicle Specifications

Model year tested: 2022
Number of passengers (F/R): 2/3
Curb weight (lbs): 4120.0
Exterior L / W / H (in): 195.7 / 75.0 / 66.7
Wheelbase (in): 118.3
Number of air bags: 8
Warranty (months/miles): 60/60,000
Tire manufacturer and model: Michelin Primacy LTX
Front and rear tire size: 245/50 R20
Max towing capacity (lbs): 3,500
Headlight type: LED
Transmission type: Auto 8-speed
Drivetrain type: All wheel
Engine/motor: 2.5L I4 turbo
Engine horsepower @ RPM: 281 @ 5,800

Test Data

Test Vehicle Scores

Advanced Safety Features:


Fuel Efficiency:


EPA Emissions Score:





Handling: 6.04
Quality and Drivability: 6.50

Ride Quality:


Interior Size:


Easy of Entry and Exit:




Interior Noise:


Cargo Capacity:

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