After a highly award-winning inaugural year in the nascent compact pickup segment, the Hyundai Santa Cruz remains a solid option. It’s an almost perfect purchase for those looking for practicality. Plus, it’s a great choice if you don’t need the capacity or price of a bigger truck. Mid-size or full-size pickups offer a higher cost and features that most of us just don’t need for daily driving.
Although the 2023 model is largely a carry-over model from the previous year, for hyundai, there are some changes. Potential buyers will see a price increase for the base model. Plus, there’s a new trim level and a cheaper option to get the turbocharged engine.
The exciting look of the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz
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Unlike most competitors in the midsize pickup market, the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz will continue to use the redesigned unibody construction. The Hyundai pickup truck is based on the same platform as the Tucson crossover SUV. Therefore, the Santa Cruz is still likely to be a much more comfortable cruiser and offer more nimble cornering than others in the segment. As a rule, the body-on-frame architecture like the Ford Ranger or the Chevrolet Colorado decreases the comfort of the cabin on the road.
The forward-thinking, off-road-ready presence of the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz will still feature segmented headlights. Plus, it has crisp body lines and similar Tucson styling cues. Yet the Sport Adventure Vehicle (SAV), as Hyundai calls it, stands out for its racy attributes, from the front bumper and grille to the truck bed and distinctive rear lines topped with a retractable tonneau cover. . All of its features combine to give the Santa Cruz a competitive edge as a true compact pickup truck.
Performance and safety of the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz
Both powertrain options found in the last model will return for 2023 without critical updates. The Santa Cruz is available to buyers with either:
- 2.5-liter GDI-MPI inline-4 developing 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC technology and optional front- or all-wheel-drive
- 2.5-liter GDI-MPI turbocharged inline-4 engine developing 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque combined with an eight-speed dual wet clutch transmission with SHIFTRONIC technology and all-wheel drive
Maximum towing capacity is lower than midsize pickups, but the 2023 Santa Cruz can still handle between 3,500 and 5,000 pounds depending on driveline configuration. Although Hyundai does not have an option for a factory-installed trailer brake controller, alternatives are available.
The Insurance Institute for Road Safety (IIHS) did not release a safety rating for the 2023 Santa Cruz. Still, last year’s model was one of the top safety picks among small crew-cab pickups, with a top rating for their forward collision prevention systems.
2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz Trim Levels
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The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz is expected to continue using its unique style. With smart functionality and a reasonable price to keep buyers away from large pickup trucks. Although this is a carryover model, Car and driver reports that prices have increased across all four trim options.
- SE – up to $1,010 to $26,085 – includes base engine with front-wheel drive, eight-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six-speaker audio system, hold assist lane clearance and front collision mitigation. New to the SE are Blind-Spot Collision Assist (BCA) and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA).
- SEL – up to $150 to $29,085 – includes heated mirrors, smart proximity key, lockable cargo bed storage, wireless smartphone charging features, power-assist driver seat with support adjustable lumbar, heated front seats, BCA and RCCA. The SEL trim is also available with Hyundai’s “Business Package,” offering buyers a cargo bed tonneau cover, sunroof, roof rails, sliding rear window, 150-volt outlet in the bed and an LED bed light, Hyundai says.
- SEL Premium – up from $1,220 to $37,425 – gets the powerful turbocharged engine, HTRAC all-wheel-drive system, dual-zone climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, Activity Package and a MyHyundai digital key.
- Limited – up to $150 to $41,615 – will have, in addition to upgrades on other trim levels, leather upholstery all around, ventilated front seats, 10.25-inch infotainment system with navigation , a premium Bose audio system, adaptive cruise control and 360 degree Surround View Monitor (SVM) system.
Santa Cruz’s New “Night” Trim Pack
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The biggest news for the Santa Cruz is the addition of a bullish, blacked-out version of the compact pickup. The Night package starts at $37,105. It is now the least expensive version of the Santa Cruz with the optional 281 hp turbocharged engine.
The trim package also includes small color changes to the traditional chrome grille and styling touches. Plus, it adds 20-inch black wheels, black mirror caps, door handles, and side steps. Since the Night trim package comes with the more powerful engine, all-wheel drive is included.
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