How does this small truck stack up against the competition?
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz was revealed last spring and immediately sparked significant interest among potential buyers. Hyundai didn't take the typical truck approach with a body-on-frame design but rather employed a unibody construction. This means standard front-wheel-drive and optional all-wheel drive as opposed to, say, the Toyota Tacoma's rear-wheel-drive setup. One key reason for this approach: better fuel efficiency.
And now the EPA has released its official 2022 Santa Cruz mpg estimates. But first, a quick engine option recap. The base powertrain is a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter inline-four good for 191 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque, while the optional engine is a punchier turbocharged 2.5-liter offering 281 hp and 311 lb-ft. The base engine is linked to an eight-speed automatic and the turbo gets an eight-speed dual-clutch.
The HTRAC all-wheel drive system is optional on both versions. And this is where mpg figures get a bit odd. The base model with AWD, surprisingly, gets the best fuel economy, returning an estimated 21/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined. The FWD version has the same city and combined numbers but drops to 26 mpg highway. Typically, FWD vehicles score better mpg figures, though this doesn't carry over to the turbo model. The turbo AWD Santa Cruz has a 19/27/22 mpg estimate, quite impressive given the AWD base model's identical highway rating.
How does this all stack up against the competition? The Honda Ridgeline, perhaps the Santa Cruz's most direct rival since both are unibody designs, has an EPA-estimated 18/24/21 mpg.
Bear in mind it's only available with AWD and an NA 3.5-liter V6. The Tacoma? The best EPA-rated version comes in at 20/23/21 mpg, but that's with RWD and the smaller 2.7-liter four. The Ford Ranger's turbocharged 2.3-liter mill helps it get 21/26/23 mpg, also when in RWD. These are respectable figures and the Santa Cruz is definitely competitive.
However, we think it's important to point out the bigger, heavier, and 4WD Ford F-150 Hybrid scored a most impressive 24/24/24 mpg rating. In RWD guise, this increases to 25/26/25 mpg. Electrification, whether hybrid or plug-in hybrid, makes a difference and it shouldn't be too long until the Santa Cruz gets a third engine option.