2022 Ford Maverick vs. 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz: Who leads the compact pickup truck fight?

The compact truck segment has officially been revived and two automakers have jumped at the opportunity to lure consumers wanting a city-friendly pickup. With the 2022 Ford Maverick and 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, there are now two options for those wanting the utility of a bed but aren’t willing to move up to a mid-size truck. How different are these entrants? What kind of capability could we expect considering their unibody construction? Let’s take a look.

2022 Ford Maverick vs 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz exterior

Immediately you’ll notice that the 2022 Ford Maverick has the family appearance of its larger siblings. It’s boxy, upright, and rugged even in the range-topping Lariat trim. The front fascia looks like a mix of F-150 and Bronco Sport, giving it a youthful yet tough presence. In the rear, you get vertical taillights, a huge Ford logo and Maverick spelled out across the tailgate. Ford also went with a more conventional appearance designing the Maverick, meaning it looks like a standard truck. However, they didn’t try to hide the unibody underpinnings by creating a faux separation between the cab and bed.

In comparison, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz looks more futuristic than the Maverick thanks to its avant-garde exterior. You can tell it’s related to the Tucson thanks to LED daytime running lights embedded on the grille. The C-pillar is less upright, adding to the less conventional look. In the rear, you’ll find T-shaped taillights and Santa Cruz spelled out in stamping. At 199.7 inches long, the Maverick is 4.0 inches longer and 2.0 inches taller than the Santa Cruz. However, the Santa Cruz is 2.4 inches wider than the Maverick. The wheelbase of the Maverick, on the other hand, is 2.8 inches longer than the Santa Cruz.

Both trucks have similarly sized beds at 54.4 inches long for the Maverick and 52.1 inches for the Santa Cruz. The Maverick has your usual storage cubbies, tie-downs, four D-rings, and plugs in the bed plus a built-in bottle opener. Ford says you can put 2x4s or 2x6s onto specified slots to create dividers within the bed. The tailgate also has two positions allowing it to support long items that end up hanging out the back. The Hyundai may have a shorter bed but it makes up for it with an integrated tonneau cover and an in-bed trunk that can double as a cooler along with all the usual tie-downs.

2022 Ford Maverick vs 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz interior and tech features

The 2022 Maverick and 2022 Santa Cruz are only available as a crew cab, meaning a four-door is your only option. Both trucks seat up to five and have storage cubbies under the folding rear bench. This also gives you the flexibility to stow a bike back there with the front wheels off. You get more storage cubbies in the Maverick; there’s one next to the main display and another behind it. The door pockets are also large enough to hold laptops, tablets, and large water bottles. Hyundai has kept the Santa Cruz’s interior similar to the Tucson, meaning it gets a sizable center console cubby for your mobile devices just below the center stack, The side pockets are generously sized but they don’t appear capable of accommodating laptops and other large mobile devices. You also get the Tucson’s button-free center console with an available 10.25-inch touch screen and a hoodless digital gauge cluster. The only difference from the Tucson is the mechanical gear shifter instead of a set of buttons. In comparison, the 2022 Maverick is more conventional and utilitarian, like a mix of cues from the Bronco Sport and Escape. There are physical buttons and knobs for the infotainment controls but you get a smaller 8.0-inch main display.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz separates itself on the tech front because it gets the same Smart Sense driver assistance suite as the Tucson. That gets you lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning, forward collision warning, front automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and cyclist detection as standard. You can further upgrade that suite with blind-spot monitoring that shows what’s beside you on the digital cluster, safe exit assist, rear automatic emergency braking, and Highway Driving Assist, the latter of which bundles together lane centering, adaptive cruise control, and steering assist.

Ford CoPilot360 is optional on the 2022 Maverick even on the range-topping Lariat trim. That means you’ll need to pay extra if you want more driver assistance features because you only get automatic high beams, forward collision warning, front automatic emergency braking, and pedestrian detection standard. Evasive steering assist, lane-keeping assist, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane centering are part of a package on all Maverick trims.

2022 Ford Maverick vs 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz performance and capability

The 2022 Ford Maverick is the first truck to give you a hybrid powertrain standard. While Ford expects this version to get 37 mpg combined on the EPA cycle, it’s FWD only despite the same unit being available with AWD in the Escape Hybrid. This unit takes a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and couples it to an electric motor, a lithium-ion battery, and an electronically-controlled CVT. The result is 191 hp. If you need more power, you’ll need to forgo electrification by upgrading to the 2.0-liter turbo-four with 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. That engine gets an eight-speed automatic transmission and is the only way to get AWD in the Maverick. Expect the turbocharged Maverick to get similar fuel economy as the Bronco Sport with the same engine, which is rated at 21/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined.

Unfortunately, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is only available with internal combustion engines. The base naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder is estimated to get 190 hp and 180 lb-ft while the optional turbocharged 2.5-liter unit is expected to make 275 hp and 310 lb-ft. An eight-speed torque converter automatic will be paired with the base 2.5-liter. The turbocharged version will get an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. According to the EPA, the most efficient Santa Cruz is the AWD-equipped model with the naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter at 21/27/23 mpg. Surprisingly, the FWD example is rated lower on the highway at 21/26/23 mpg. Turbocharged models, which get AWD standard, are rated at 19/27/22 mpg.

Luckily, Hyundai can easily respond to the Ford Maverick’s hybrid powertrain. Thanks to its shared underpinnings with the Tucson, the 226-hp 1.6-liter turbo-four-based hybrid system can be used in the Santa Cruz without much modification. Should that happen, AWD will likely be standard just like in the Tucson and Santa Fe.

Total payload for the 2022 Maverick is 1,500 pounds while the 2022 Santa Cruz is good for 1,700 pounds. When it comes to towing, the Santa Cruz can pull more at 3,500 pounds with the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter or 5,000 pounds with the turbocharged engine. The Maverick, on the other hand, is good for 2,000 pounds regardless of the powertrain. You must opt for the 4K Tow package with the 2.0-liter turbo-four to get to the Maverick’s max 4,000-pound tow rating.

2022 Ford Maverick vs 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz pricing

Ford has set the bar high in the pricing with the Maverick at $21,490 for the base XL trim. Even loaded up, a Maverick Hybrid Lariat First Edition will set you back $32,360 before you start adding dealer-installed accessories. Even if you load up an AWD model, the Maverick still manages to sneak under $35,000 as long as you don’t go crazy with the accessories list.

Hyundai has yet to release pricing for the 2022 Santa Cruz but we’re expecting it to start closer to $25,000. The turbocharged engine will likely cost you because it’s only available on the SEL Premium and Limited trims. That means you’ll likely need to spend at least $30,000 if you’re looking for more power. Should Hyundai add the Tucson’s hybrid system to the Santa Cruz’s powertrain lineup, expect that to start around $28,000 and top out at around $35,000 to $38,000 depending on the equipment.

2022 Ford Maverick vs 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz summary

Ford and Hyundai are poised to revive the compact truck segment with strong models out of the gate. The Maverick and Santa Cruz are promising entries, especially the former, which aims to change the game with a standard electrified powertrain. Should Hyundai add a hybrid version, that could become a compelling entry that blends power and efficiency in a single package. For now, if you’re looking for an electrified truck, Ford now has a second option for you in the form of the Maverick.

Written by Stefan Ogbac
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