Home » Hyundai Made The 2025 Santa Cruz Look More Like A Truck, Which Is Good, Because It Is A Truck

Hyundai Made The 2025 Santa Cruz Look More Like A Truck, Which Is Good, Because It Is A Truck

2025 Santa Cruz Ts1
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When the 2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz debuted at this year’s New York Auto Show, we couldn’t help but admire it. Sure, it might not gain electrification or anything headline-grabbing like that, but a new interior and a slightly more serious off-road trim go a long way. These updates excite us immensely because we like buttons, we like tires, and we already like the Hyundai Santa Cruz.

Spec’d with the unexpectedly potent 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Santa Cruz hauls ass. In Car And Driver testing, it ran from zero to 60 mph in six seconds flat, with a rolling-start five-to-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds. That’s not slow! It also handles shockingly well, with excellent control over its mass, well-weighted steering, and a properly sorted ride. If anything, it feels more like a hot hatch with a bed than a pickup truck.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Sure, the Ford Maverick will do pretty much everything you want a compact pickup truck to do, but the turbocharged Santa Cruz feels like an athlete, and while it is more expensive, it has the materials to justify the price tag. So, what happens when the dashboard and the screens get more user-friendly?

Large 58823 2025santacruzxrt

As part of the 2025 facelift, the Hyundai Santa Cruz downloads its entire dashboard from the revamped Tucson crossover. Not only does this mean you can get a 12.3-inch touchscreen navigation system, you can also get a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. More importantly, that giant capacitive touch panel on the old top trim is gone, replaced with real buttons and knobs for volume, tuning, cabin temperature control, and even the homepage on the infotainment system. Hyundai has even found space for a shelf above the glovebox, a useful addition to an already practical vehicle. Perhaps the biggest news is wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now coming on all trims, a bit of tech that consumers are sure to enjoy.

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Large 58837 2025santacruzxrt

Oh, and since rugged good looks are in right now, the Santa Cruz’s XRT trim gets some meaningful upgrades for 2025, starting with an actual set of 245/60R18 all-terrain tires. How about that? If I were to hazard a guess based on sizing, they may be the same Continentals used on the new Santa Fe XRT, which would bode well for road manners. In addition, the 2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz XRT gets a clawed-back front fascia for improved approach angle, functional recovery points that are easily accessible on the front of the vehicle, a unique rear bumper, a new grille, and a 360-degree camera system so you might not need a spotter. Even if extra underbody protection would’ve been nice, this is still some decent stuff.

2025 Santa Cruz Front Compare

 

Screenshot 2024 03 27 At 11.25.40 am

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The regular 2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz and the XRT Trim both get new front ends with blockier daytime running lights and squarer elements, and while it looks less alien than before, I actually prefer the more organic nature of the old front end. At the same time, it definitely wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so the squarer treatment may have more mass appeal. Speaking of mass appeal, turbocharged XRT and Limited models get a new towing drive mode, for those who want to put the 5,000-pound towing capacity to the test. That extra capability over the Ford Maverick Ecoboost’s 4,000 pounds goes a long way.

2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz Xrt (1)

Large 59422 2025 hyundai santa cruz limited

All in all, the 2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz gets some useful, meaningful upgrades that should make a great trucklet even better to live with. Expect it to roll into showrooms this summer, and although Hyundai hasn’t announced pricing yet, we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s similar to what the 2024 model goes for.

(Photo credits: Hyundai)

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Stop Making Us Register To Comment
Stop Making Us Register To Comment
11 days ago

I just want the El Camino to come back…
and Ranchero would be a good bonus.

Stop Making Us Register To Comment
Stop Making Us Register To Comment
11 days ago

Give us a 2 door, longer bed, manual, N version….would be perfect.

BobWellington
BobWellington
16 days ago

Meh, both are ugly.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
18 days ago

Spec’d with the unexpectedly potent 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Santa Cruz hauls ass. In Car And Driver testing, it ran from zero to 60 mph in six seconds flat, with a rolling-start five-to-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds. That’s not slow!”

That’s all well and good… but where is the hybrid option? They have the tech, why wouldn’t they implement it on this model?

And I would argue that many small/smaller truck buyers would happily sacrifice a couple of seconds on the 0-60 time for a hybrid model with vastly better fuel economy… especially in places where fuel is more expensive.

The Maverick hybrid demand/sales are proof of that.

Bill Garcia
Bill Garcia
17 days ago

Yes! Being based on the Tucson it could also use the PHEV, I think? They’d sell like hotcakes, assuming they don’t cost $50k.

Last edited 17 days ago by Bill Garcia
ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
18 days ago

That is a nice looking truck, and I am not at all a truck guy. Would like a longer bed, but the times you need it you can usually make something work with some tie downs and a little ingenuity.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
18 days ago

Over on Oppo we’ve had a discussion about the definition of truck, and an archaic term was brought up which I’ve decided needs to make a comeback:

The term for this and other vehicles like it is “Sport Utility Pickup.”

This term dates back to the 1960s with the introduction of the Ford Bronco, as Ford’s marketing department described the novel new Scout copy vehicle.

Sport Utility Pickup is now a term seemingly forgotten, but it desperately needs to return, as it is a perfect descriptor for these unibody SUV/CUV-based vehicles with truck beds. It satisfies the “NoT a ReAl TrUcK!!!1!!!!” crowd while still defining the segment as a type of truck, as it is a type of truck, but also distinctly its own thing.

Vehicles one could define as Sport Utility Pickups include the International Scout, original Ford Bronco, original Chevy Blazer, Dodge Ramcharger, Jeep Scrambler, Honda Ridgeline, Ford Maverick, Hyundai Santa Cruz, and possibly the Subaru Baja.

They all feature truck beds, but are either unibody or constructed in such a way that the cab is not separate or can be reconfigured for carrying extra passengers or being a 2-seater trucklet. They are also distinct from traditional car-based Utes, as they are still designed for light off-roading and are more CUV and SUV based.

Bring back Sport Utility Pickups! We can call them SUPs for short. ‘Sup bro, check out my new SUP.

Last edited 18 days ago by Austin Vail
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
11 days ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Does the cybertruck count as a SUP?

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
11 days ago

I’d argue it’s big, bulky, and body-on-frameish (skateboard chassis kinda count right?) that it doesn’t feel right to call it an SUP. But I guess it could fit the description.

The Cybertruck is kinda its own thing. It copies nothing and nothing will copy it because why would they? Why even put it in a category? It’s the Cybertruck, it needs no other Category than itself.

WR250R
WR250R
18 days ago

5000 lbs is kinda alot.. Well depending on what that 5000 is I suppose. Sub-compact tractor on a trailer with electronic brakes? Sure. But a single axle camper trailer in the winds of Kansas? A braver person than me maybe

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
18 days ago

Still looks basically like a car with a tiny useless bed tacked on the rear.

Fruit Snack
Fruit Snack
17 days ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

A rakishly ugly car at that.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
11 days ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

Low-polygon Subaru Baja.

FloridaNative
FloridaNative
18 days ago

If someone made a canopy for this thing it would be almost perfect. Great on-road performance, good enough soft road performance, 5000 pound tow rating. Really nicely equipped, reasonably priced. But I really want covered outdoor storage… bikes, camping bbq grill, etc.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
18 days ago
Reply to  FloridaNative

Outstanding news! Hyundai makes a canopy for this thing! It’s called a Santa Fe!

FloridaNative
FloridaNative
17 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

I actually DO like the new Santa Fe! But even after ripping out the space-hogging 3rd row I still won’t be able to hose out the cargo area.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
18 days ago

Idk watched a TFL offroad review or two of the Santa Cruz awhile back and it was pretty unimpressive off-road (even for what it is.) The Maverick they compared it to did a much better job on dirt. Also it appears the XRT has the dual clutch transmission which from what I’ve seen in reviews is pretty poor off road in the various vehicles they’ve put it in. Not sure why Hyundai even thinks a DCT made sense for SUVs or really any of their “normal” cars…modern automatics are so good I just don’t see the value add for anything besides hardcore performance cars.

Paul Magno
Paul Magno
18 days ago

Any news on whether they’ll release a hybrid version (or better yet, a PHEV one)?

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
18 days ago
Reply to  Paul Magno

Exactly what I was thinking. If they want to steal some sales from the Maverick, making a hybrid version available in base trim will likely do it.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
18 days ago

It is nice to see an actual color in the palette now, and it looks like more lower trims have added rear vents too as in pics of the XRT back seat. Think the rear vents are Limited-only on the current one.

Not surprised by no hybrid, they need as many of those as they can for their other crossovers to push back against sales of RAV4 and CR-V hybrids, but was hoping for something…else in the powertrain department, even though I don’t know why. The DCT seems dicey as mentioned below and they’re really committing to it with the new Santa Fe still retaining it too. Maybe just something “more” for a lower price considering you’re basically in the upper 30s if you don’t want the base motor. And then you are in Ridgeline money, which is a little bigger and has a V6/9AT.

Wouldn’t be surprised either if they take the approach Honda has with the Ridgeline and it just sticks around and get updates more because a core model got them. Even the main image on Hyundai’s site is a photoshopped version of the 2024.

Ben
Ben
18 days ago

More importantly, that giant capacitive touch panel on the old top trim is gone, replaced with real buttons and knobs for volume, tuning, cabin temperature control, and even the homepage on the infotainment system.

As official self-designated resident Autopian touch interface curmudgeon, all I can say is thank you! <3

With the 5000 lb tow rating this might actually be on my shopping list next time around.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
18 days ago
Reply to  Ben

Just because it’s rated to tow 5000lb doesn’t mean it’s an especially good idea to tow anything that heavy with four cylinders and a DCT.

Vb9594
Vb9594
17 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Who cares? Tranny and engine are covered by a 10/100k warranty!

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
17 days ago
Reply to  Vb9594

Because when it’s in for warranty work that takes several weeks, they don’t necessarily offer you alternate transportation. I’ve had customers out of a car for over 6 weeks while waiting on engine replacements on their Kia/Hyundai. No rental coverage, no reimbursement, and no dealer loaners. One bought a replacement car and traded in their Optima when it was done, a few others used Turo to sample replacement vehicle candidates.

Ben
Ben
17 days ago
Reply to  Box Rocket

This. Having your tow vehicle die right before a big trip sucks. Don’t ask me how I know.

Vb9594
Vb9594
17 days ago
Reply to  Box Rocket

Got it- point taken and understood.

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
17 days ago
Reply to  Vb9594

That’s true, and it’s a reason to maybe do it anyways. But that’s not actually the main reason I was thinking that. 5000lb of towing is actually quite a bit, and getting on the highway and pulling hills with 281 four cylinder horsepower sounds a little exciting. 281 isn’t that bad, but for this four cylinder to make that power, it will be BOOSTED and WRAPPED UP. Sounds kinda sketchy, and very obnoxious, and kinda stressful cuz I’d spend the entire drive looking at the temp gauge.

Ben
Ben
17 days ago
Reply to  Rust Buckets

Yeah, my trailer is not actually 5000 lbs, but that’s the minimum tow rating I would consider for a tow vehicle.

I think I’m mostly surprised that a truck I originally wrote off as a fashion accessory is more useful than I expected though.

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