The first thing that strikes you about the Santa Cruz interior is just how spacious it is. Considering it's a size down from trucks like the Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Colorado, it's noticeably bigger in the second row. You get more than six additional inches over both these pickup trucks, for example. The kids will love you. That's just one of the upsides of using unibody construction and focusing on passenger comfort instead of bed size.
From entry-level SE, the Santa Cruz offers a luxury interior space with quality seats and upmarket materials. Most models get a high-resolution eight-inch display and a functional layout. High-end models come with a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and dual-zone climate control, both of which elevate the interior ambiance.
The Santa Cruz is a five-seater through the trim levels, although the usual stipulation applies that the center-rear passenger isn't going to be thrilled if they are a teenager or adult. Legroom in the front is a generous 41.4 inches, while passengers in the back of the cab have an adequate 36.5 inches. Tall people will manage in the back, but if someone has long legs, they'll want to ride up front. Headroom is over 40 inches front and back which makes the back feel roomier than it is. Hip room is generous enough (54.5 inches front, 53.5 inches back), though, and nobody will be uncomfortable in the back. Despite being smaller outside than the Ford Maverick, the Santa Cruz has more headroom and more rear-seat legroom than the Ford, as well as more overall passenger volume.
|Hyundai Santa Cruz Trims||SE||SEL||SEL Premium||Limited|
|Headroom Front Seat||40.7 in.||40.7 in.||40.7 in.||40.7 in.|
|Headroom Back Seat||40.1 in.||40.1 in.||40.1 in.||40.1 in.|
|Legroom Front Seat||41.4 in.||41.4 in.||41.4 in.||41.4 in.|
|Legroom Back Seat||36.5 in.||36.5 in.||36.5 in.||36.5 in.|
|Shoulder Room Front||57.6 in.||57.6 in.||57.6 in.||57.6 in.|
|Shoulder Room Rear||56.1 in.||56.1 in.||56.1 in.||56.1 in.|
|Hip Room, Front||54.5 in.||54.5 in.||54.5 in.||54.5 in.|
|Hip Room, Rear||53.5 in.||53.5 in.||53.5 in.||53.5 in.|
SE and SEL models come as standard with cloth seats in black or gray. From SEL Premium specification, Hyundai adds leather trim on the steering wheel and shifter. The top-spec Limited model ships as standard with black leather upholstery. The Limited model can also be equipped with a Launch Package, which upgrades the interior to dark grey leather with orange accents.
The Santa Cruz has a 4.3-foot bed, which is smaller than we're used to but not insignificant. It's 52.1 inches long, 53.9 inches wide (42.7 inches between the wheel wells), and 19.2 inches tall.
The available cargo capacity is ideally suited to the application of the car. The bed is big enough for everything you need for a camping trip with the family and when the tailgate is open, you have 74.8 inches of length so you can load dirt bikes standing up in the back. We're also big fans of the hidden storage compartment underneath the bed floor. It's big enough for two backpacks and it's lockable. It's an additional layer of security over and above the $195 tailgate cover. It also takes care of that silly problem all small pickups like the Ford Ranger suffer from. If you want to stop quickly at the shops on the way home from the school run, where do you put the groceries? Do you inconvenience the kids, put it by their feet, or chuck it in the bed and hope the eggs are still in one piece when you get home? In the Santa Cruz, you simply use this nifty storage space.
Interior storage is not great. Front passengers get dual cupholders and storage space underneath the center armrest. Rear passengers get door pockets and cupholders on the door panel. The Santa Cruz does have additional storage space underneath the rear seats, perfect for hiding valuables, but it's otherwise pretty limited.
|Hyundai Santa Cruz Trims||SE||SEL||SEL Premium||Limited|
|Box Length (Floor)||48.4 in.||48.4 in.||48.4 in.||48.4 in.|
|Box Width (Floor)||53.9 in.||53.9 in.||53.9 in.||53.9 in.|
|Box Width (Top, Rear)||53.9 in.||53.9 in.||53.9 in.||53.9 in.|
|Box Width (Wheelhousings)||42.7 in.||42.7 in.||42.7 in.||42.7 in.|
|Box Height (Area)||19.2 in.||19.2 in.||19.2 in.||19.2 in.|
|Cargo Box Volume||19.2 cu. ft.||19.2 cu. ft.||19.2 cu. ft.||19.2 cu. ft.|
As per usual, Hyundai was feeling particularly generous the day it specced the Santa Cruz. Base models already boast most of the comfort and convenience items you need, with higher-spec models unlocking mostly cosmetic upgrades and a few additional nice-to-have features.
As standard, the SE gets remote keyless entry, automatic on/off halogen headlights, a multifunction steering wheel, air conditioning, a six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, dual front USB charge ports, and a 4.2-inch information screen in the instrument cluster. From the next step up, you get remote engine start, a power driver's seat, and heated front seats. The SEL Premium adds LED headlights, a digital key and dual-zone climate control, wireless charging, and the much nicer 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. The top-spec Limited trim unlocks ambient lighting, ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, and rear USB ports.
From the base upward, you get a decent set of driver assistance features. Base models boast forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, driver attention warning, lane-keeping assist, lane follow assist, and high-beam assist. SEL trim adds blind-spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic avoidance, while the Premium trim adds adaptive cruise control with Stop/Start, highway driving assistance, and a surround-view camera.
Here in the middle of 2021, Hyundai is best in class when it comes to infotainment systems, and it's only presentation that can fool people into thinking the German brands are making slicker systems. You don't need flashy graphics to appreciate the slick interface in the Santa Cruz, though. The 10.5-inch screen on our test vehicle was bright, crisp, and responsive with an intuitive user interface. Standard is an eight-inch screen along with wired and wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto, which sets a high bar before even considering that Bluetooth connectivity, HD Radio, and four USB ports are standard. Six speakers come standard for the audio system, while the top-level Limited trim gets a Bose setup with eight speakers. SEL trims and above gets SiriusXM satellite radio with a three-month trial included as well.
Optional on SEL and standard on SEL Premium and Limited trims is Hyundai's excellent 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster that is bright and crisp enough it doesn't require a hood to be perfectly usable even on the brightest of California summer days.