2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited
Not your daddy’s pickup truck
*I think I’ve mentioned before that I like trucks. I like ‘em big, but not too big. But this Santa Cruz isn’t big at all. It’s just right, like baby bear’s porridge. It’s a great car for work and play with a cargo bed spacious enough for all of your toys and tools. They’re calling it a sport adventure vehicle, the first of its kind (last year Hyundai introduced us to the first model). The idea is that it’s compact enough to have fun and get away, for all those outdoorsy folks like myself. But it’s cute enough for an everyday drive. Let’s get into it.
Techy pickup: Hyundai does technology right and I love the convenient features this vehicle has, including wireless charging. A potential favorite is the Blue Link technology which allows you to use your Android phone to unlock and start the vehicle. I’m not an Android user, though. I hope the technology advances in the next year so iPhone users can do the same. But CarPlay works great and has an easy connection.
Speaking of connection, everyone in the vehicle can easily charge up with at least three USB ports (two in the back), in addition to the wireless charging space in the front. The infotainment display is sleek and large enough for the front seat passenger to feel like they’re a part of the driving experience.
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During the test drive, however, the audio stopped working. We tried so many things like turning the console off and on, unplugging devices, restarting the car (like a computer reboot lol). But nothing worked. I didn’t get an explanation for this glitch.
Space & Storage: So this pickup truck, as I mentioned, isn’t huge, but it’s designed with passengers and fun in mind. Backseat riders have plenty of legroom, unlike your daddy’s old pickup where you and your lil’ friend had to turn sideways to fit. The Santa Cruz managed to comfortably seat another grown woman in the backseat without the front seat passenger adjusting her chair. Plus, the sunroof added a nice touch of comfort in what could feel like a compact cabin. The extra window created a sense of openness for everyone.
As far as storage is concerned, check out the video Hyundai produced, there’s plenty. Designed with lots of hidden compartments, drivers can keep valuables hidden, store emergency supplies or whatever you want inside the cabin and in the floor and sides of the cargo bed. If you’re into adventure and love to bring your big toys on trips, the Santa Cruz has lots of great ways to secure them. Also, with the built in cargo bed cover, drivers can easily protect items from weather. With a little rain during the test drive, I found that the cargo bed remained pretty dry with the cover secured.
The Drive: The Santa Cruz feels like an SUV and handles the roads decently. The city has plenty of adventures like potholes and abrupt stops to get the best out of a drive. I found the ride to be a little bumpy at times. But on managing tight spaces, abrupt stops, and some speed, the Santa Cruz gets good marks. Hyundai’s signature safety features also make the drive more enjoyable and generate a sense of comfort for any driver. From your standard lane departure to the Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection, I had a sense of 360 safety. Sometimes these features can seem a bit too sensitive or aggressive. But I found that the Santa Cruz doesn’t overdo it. The alerts were reasonable and helped with blind spots or sudden changes in road conditions. The alert sound was aggressive enough to catch a driver’s attention but gentle enough not to startle. Finally, all of the cameras around the vehicle made me feel in total control, especially for parking and cross traffic.
Overall, I had fun driving the Santa Cruz. It’s a fun mash-up of an SUV and pickup truck, outfitted with all the outdoor and adventure hookups anyone could need.
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