Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Is Already Racking Up Awards

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The new kid on the block is even impressing the feds.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is an excellent competitor to the Ford Maverick, even though it's a lot pricier.

Still, there is a lot to love about the Santa Cruz, and now we have one more; safety. Hyundai doesn't appear to have any problems selling them, after selling 4,841 of them so far since it went on sale a couple of months ago. The Maverick might have one-upped Hyundai in this department, but the Santa Cruz's latest achievement could offset sales a little bit, especially for family buyers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently gave the 2022 Santa Cruz a Top Safety Pick nod. This applies to models equipped with the front crash prevention system and specific headlights.


"The 2022 Santa Cruz, Hyundai's first sport adventure vehicle sold in North America, meets all the requirements for the Top Safety Pick award," said Joe Young, public affairs, IIHS. "Both the standard and optional front crash prevention systems earn superior ratings in the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to pedestrian evaluations, and the LED projector headlights available on the SEL Premium and Limited trims earn a good rating."

All models come with frontal collision warning with automatic braking, but only the SEL Premium and Limited models are equipped with the necessary bi-LED headlights. These lights are not available as an option on base models, so you're looking at roughly $36,000 for a Santa Cruz that meets the IIHS criteria. For approximately $10,000 less, you can get a top-spec Ford Maverick Lariat, which shows how big that price gap is.

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Still, since these compact trucks will mainly be used by families, can you put a price on safety?

"As we continue on our journey for world-class safety, the recognition for our all-new sport adventure vehicle, Santa Cruz, and its receiving IIHS Top Safety Pick further demonstrates this commitment," said Brian Latouf, chief safety officer, Hyundai Motor North America. "Through a relentless focus on safety, our engineering and product planning teams have successfully created a segment-leading product including durability, reliability, and safety accolades."

At the time of writing, the Ford Maverick has not been subjected to any safety tests. Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has had the opportunity to smash one to pieces.

That does not make it unsafe, but it is now an official unknown variable compared to the Hyundai's impressive accomplishment.

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