By Peter Perrotta
Is it a car? Or, is it a pickup truck?
Well, it kind of looks like a car from some angles. But on the other hand, it has very pickup like qualities from other views.
The 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited AWD (All-Wheel Drive) can be described exactly in those terms.
I recently jumped behind the wheel of the Santa Cruz for a one-week spin and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.
This car/pickup truck is a lot of fun to drive and at the same time it’s comfortable and very functional all while exhibiting a couple of different personalities.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would have to rate this Santa Cruz a solid 8.5.
Even more impressively, the folks at Car and Driver gave the Santa Cruz a strong 9 out of 10 in their overall rating of the vehicle.
Car and Driver gave the Santa Cruz high marks for its “carlike handling and cushy ride.” They said it has a nicer interior than most small pickups. I’d have to agree.
The Santa Cruz is available in five trim levels: SE (starting at $27,035); SEL ($29,525); Night ($37,395); SEL Premium ($38,935) and the Limited AWD ($41,905).
I recently road tested the top-of-the-line Limited AWD for a week.
My tester was powered by a turbo charged four-cylinder engine that puts out 281 horsepower.
I felt that this Santa Cruz was adequately powered. If you wanted a little extra oomph all you had to do was switch it into the sport mode and it responded quite well.
The Santa Cruz accelerates smoothly and shifts almost seamlessly. It handles very well and is very responsive in tight turns as well as highway cruising.
This Santa Cruz has a 5,000-pound towing capacity which is just as good as its rival the Honda Ridgeline.
As far as fuel economy goes, the front wheel drive Santa Cruz is EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rated at 22 miles per gallon (mpg) in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway.
The all-wheel drive version drops the highway rating by one mpg. The turbocharged version I drove comes in at 19 mpg in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway.
The Santa Cruz I drove had an upgraded 10.3-inch touch screen at its infotainment center on the dashboard.
I found the touch screen functions to work quite well. It’s all set up very intuitively and is easy to figure out.
However, at times the voice recognition command system did not work optimally. I found myself having to repeat myself a few times before the system could figure out what I was asking it to do.
The upgraded Bose stereo system was a pleasure, providing some very high-quality sounds for any short or long ride.
For its 2023 model Santa Cruz’ Hyundai really didn’t make too many changes from the previous year.
They did add the new trim level Night model for 2023. It comes with black 20-inch rims, a dark grille as well as black painted door handles, mirror caps and side steps.
All in all if you are in the market for a crossover, car/pickup like the Santa Cruz, I think checking this model out would be advisable as it has a lot to offer in any trim level.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears every other week. He can be contacted a firstname.lastname@example.org.
On The Road is sponsored by Capital Motor Cars of Springfield, N.J. the leader leasing broker in the tri state area.