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A Perfect Comparison Of The Ford Maverick And Hyundai Santa Cruz

Image Source: arren Brode / Shutterstock

In search of a pickup truck’s utility without the cumbersome size or fuel inefficiency of a full-size truck? The Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz are the ideal choices. They can seat up to five passengers and provide a crossover-like driving experience. Thanks to their compact dimensions and small beds, they can be easily accommodated in garages and parking spaces. Introduced in 2022, both models have been successful for their respective brands.

Ford recorded sales of nearly 100,000 units of the Maverick in 2023. With the optional hybrid powertrain, this small truck outsold the midsize Ford Ranger by almost three times. Although still far behind the F-Series, it’s evident that there is a demand in the market for a practical, value-driven utility truck that can achieve up to 37 mpg combined.

Hyundai entered the small truck segment with the Santa Cruz. This model caters more towards weekend adventures rather than heavy-duty tasks. Equipped with a more powerful powertrain and a capable all-wheel drive system, it can handle off-road terrains to a certain extent. Despite not matching Ford’s expertise in trucks, Hyundai managed to sell nearly 37,000 units in 2023, marking a successful debut in the U.S. truck market.

Although the Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick share similarities like seating for five, crossover platforms, optional all-wheel drive, turbo-4 engine choices, and towing capacities of 4,000 to 5,000 pounds, their appeal lies in different areas – serving as either a weekend getaway vehicle or a practical weekend workhorse.

The Ford Maverick was named The Car Connection’s Best Pickup Truck To Buy in 2024, whereas the Santa Cruz is perceived as more enjoyable to drive.

Comparison of Pricing and Trim Levels Between Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz

  • Ford Maverick XL is priced around $25,500; adding the hybrid option costs an additional $1,500
  • Hyundai Santa Cruz is priced from $28,000 to $43,000
  • Recommended trims: Maverick XL Hybrid; Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL with AWD

2023 Ford Maverick Tremor

What is the pricing of the Ford Maverick? Which model should you choose?

The base Maverick XL is priced at $25,000, including a $1,595 destination charge. In a change of approach, Ford made the turbo-4 engine standard in the 2024 Maverick, and now charges an extra $1,500 for the hybrid powertrain. In the initial two years of the Maverick’s existence, the hybrid was included as standard. However, it is only available with front-wheel drive, while the turbo-4 can be paired with all-wheel drive for an additional $2,220.

Opting for the base XL is recommended for its value, as it comes equipped with standard features like 17-inch steel wheels, power windows and locks, two USB ports, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen integrated with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Consider adding the $650 Co-Pilot360 package for additional driver-assist technologies such as active lane control and blind-spot monitors, along with a full-size spare tire.

The XLT model, priced at $28,000 ($29,500 with the hybrid option), offers alloy wheels, interior orange accents, different cloth seats, and more optional features like heated seats.

Opting for Ford’s advanced AWD opens up the opportunity to add the $2,995 Tremor Off-Road package to XLT and Lariat turbo-4 models. It includes a locking rear differential and a twin-clutch rear-drive system for versatile torque distribution. The Maverick Tremor is equipped with five drive modes, a trail control system, and rides on all-terrain tires mounted on 17-inch aluminum wheels, priced at an additional $5,200 on top of the XLT and Lariat base prices.

The premium Lariat, priced just under $36,000 for the hybrid and marginally more for the AWD gas variant, offers features like 18-inch alloy wheels, a power driver seat, rear seat storage pockets, synthetic leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, USB ports for rear passengers, and a 6.5-inch digital instrument cluster.

The Maverick’s warranty coverage of 3 years/36,000 miles is standard but lacks the allure of more comprehensive warranties.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

What is the pricing of the Hyundai Santa Cruz? Which trim level is recommended?

The Santa Cruz comes at a higher price point compared to the Maverick range, and Hyundai currently does not offer a hybrid version, unlike the related Hyundai Tucson which features hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants.

Starting at around $28,000, the Santa Cruz SE includes 18-inch alloy wheels and enhanced driver-assist technologies. Equipped with an 8.0-inch touchscreen supporting wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, every Santa Cruz model is backed by a 5-year/60,000-mile limited warranty, inclusive of 3 years of complimentary oil changes and tire rotations.

The SEL trim provides the best value at $30,500, and it is advisable to add the AWD option for $1,500. With added features like remote start, power driver seat, heated front seats, and satellite radio, upgrading to the $3,300 Activity Package enhances the experience with a sunroof, integrated tonneau cover, roof rails, wireless smartphone charging, and a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

If opting for the turbo-4 engine in the Santa Cruz, expect a significant price hike compared to the Maverick’s hybrid option. Hyundai combines AWD with the turbo-4, starting with the Night trim priced approximately $8,000 more than the SEL, but inclusive of the Activity Package. The top Limited trim surpasses $43,000 and boasts premium features like leather upholstery, cooled front seats, and a surround-view camera system.

Comparison between Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz regarding specifications, towing capacity, and performance

The Ford Maverick utilizes a 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine producing 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque.
For the Maverick, the 2.5-liter inline-4 hybrid generates 191 hp and 155 lb-ft, available only in front-wheel drive.
On the other hand, the Hyundai Santa Cruz comes equipped with a base 2.5-liter inline-4 engine, producing 190 hp and 180 lb-ft.
The Santa Cruz boasts a 2.5-liter turbo-4 engine, which delivers 281 hp and 311 lb-ft.

How speedy is the Ford Maverick and does it offer all-wheel drive?

The Maverick can be configured with either a base turbo-4 engine with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, or a hybrid powertrain that is exclusively available in front-wheel drive. Initially, the hybrid was the base powertrain, but the Maverick now features a quicker 2.0-liter turbo-4 paired with an 8-speed automatic gearbox. Comparatively, shifts can feel somewhat confused on lower gears and at low velocities, making the hybrid appear notably smoother.

Despite its minor drawbacks, the Maverick Hybrid adds $1,500 to its price, offering efficiency and a serene ride with secure handling, making it the preferred choice even though it lags behind the turbo-4 in terms of speed. The 2.5-liter inline-4 combines with a 94-kw motor, producing 191 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque, with a laid-back hybrid planetary transmission directing power solely to the front wheels. It excels at various tasks, making it an appealing option for different purposes.

The Maverick’s maximum payload capacity reaches 1,500 pounds, while hybrid towing capabilities extend to 2,000 pounds. In contrast, the turbo-4, coupled with all-wheel drive at an additional cost of $2,220, can tow up to 4,000 pounds, which is quite remarkable for a vehicle weighing less than 3,750 pounds when fully loaded. The model swaps out a twist-beam rear axle for a multi-link rear suspension, enhancing its handling to resemble the Ford Escape crossover more than a typical pickup truck.

By further investing $3,495 in the Tremor package, users benefit from enhanced off-road protection, including increased ride height, front skid plates, an electronic locking rear differential, all-wheel drive, and 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires. The addition of front tow hooks might just make you a hero in challenging situations.

How fast is the Hyundai Santa Cruz? Does it feature all-wheel drive?

Hyundai equips the Santa Cruz with more powerful yet less efficient powertrain options. The standard 2.5-liter inline-4 pumps out 190 hp and 180 lb-ft, combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission. While we haven’t had the opportunity to test it yet (come on, Hyundai?), the possibility to upgrade from front-wheel drive to all-wheel drive is available, allowing for a tow rating of 3,500 pounds.

An optional 2.5-liter turbo-4 engine produces 281 hp and 311 lb-ft, delivering ample power for a slightly smaller vehicle, albeit weighing over 4,100 pounds. Despite some initial lag and hesitation in lower gears from its 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the Santa Cruz compensates with all the torque coming in as early as 1,700 rpm, enabling it to accelerate to 60 mph in the mid-six-second range.

With the inclusion of all-wheel drive, Hyundai incorporates a central locking differential to distribute torque between the axles, while brake-based torque vectoring directs power to the wheel with the most traction. Featuring MacPherson struts at the front and a multilink rear suspension with components borrowed from the larger Santa Fe SUV, the Santa Cruz delivers an exhilarating driving experience on the road, similar to a wagon rather than a conventional crossover or pickup truck.

Boasting a self-leveling rear suspension and an AWD tow rating of 5,000 pounds, the Santa Cruz ensures that it can carry recreational watercraft and off-road enthusiasts, meeting its intended role as the ideal getaway vehicle for weekends. With a ground clearance akin to Subaru vehicles at 8.6 inches and satisfactory approach and departure angles, the Santa Cruz is well-equipped to handle rough terrains and open fields.

Ford Maverick vs. Hyundai Santa Cruz with regards to fuel efficiency and mpg

The Ford Maverick Hybrid achieves an EPA rating of 40 mpg city, 33 highway, and 37 combined.
For the Maverick turbo-4 model, fuel economy stands at 23/30/25 mpg, while all-wheel drive yields 22/28/24 mpg.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz yields a rating of 22/26/23 mpg, with all-wheel drive performance at 21/25/23 mpg.
Equipped with a turbo-4 engine and all-wheel drive, the Santa Cruz delivers 19/27/22 mpg.

Comparison between Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz focusing on design and interior features

The Ford Maverick shares the same platform as the Ford Escape and Ford Bronco Sport models.
In contrast, the Hyundai Santa Cruz platform is shared with the Hyundai Tucson.
Both vehicles feature four doors, seat five individuals, and include a pickup bed.

Is the Hyundai Santa Cruz considered an aesthetically pleasing truck?

Absolutely, and its appeal only grows with time. Resembling the Subaru Baja of 15 years ago, the Santa Cruz lacks any ostentatious pickup truck characteristics apart from its compact bed and standard 18-inch wheels. Sharing its platform with the Hyundai Tucson compact crossover, the Santa Cruz might be mistaken for the Tucson, particularly at the front. The vehicle features black cladding that runs along the body towards the rear, where distinct hatchet-shaped taillights frame a noticeable tailgate positioned above integrated bumper steps, reminiscent of those seen on a Chevy Colorado pickup truck.

Inside, the higher price point thanThe Maverick features a stylish winged dash that leans into the door trim, combining modern technology with classic elements, such as a mechanical gear shifter. It relies excessively on the capacitive climate controls, leading the gloss-black center stack to become a canvas of fingerprint smudges.

Is the appearance of the Ford Maverick appealing?

After two years, its design remains timeless. Smaller than a Ford Explorer Sport Trac but longer than its siblings, the Ford Escape and Ford Bronco Sport, the Maverick sets itself apart with a bar across the grille, as if supporting the unique headlights. Round wheel arches embrace 17-inch steel wheels, square corners enclose broad ends, and flat sides encapsulate Ford’s truck heritage from the Ranger to the F-150. It’s an iconic design.

The interior of the Maverick epitomizes its identity as an affordable truck. Plastic materials abound, textured here, interspersed with orange accents there, yet it is practical, thoughtful, and befitting the Maverick’s character.

Ford Maverick vs. Hyundai Santa Cruz comfort and cargo space

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is shorter, lower, and narrower compared to the Maverick, with a smaller bed size and less cargo space.

Is the Ford Maverick larger than the Hyundai Santa Cruz?

Regarding the bed size, yes. However, in the crew cab area, they are quite similar. Both compact trucks are notably shorter in length compared to midsize trucks like the Colorado or Honda Ridgeline.

The Maverick’s cabin is more spacious than Ford’s compact crossovers, and the turbo-4 model boasts 36.9 inches of rear legroom (35.9 inches with the hybrid), surpassing the Ford Ranger with a crew cab by 2.4 inches.

The Santa Cruz offers 36.5 inches of rear legroom, but its seats are positioned in a reclined manner, giving it a crossover-like feel compared to the Maverick’s sturdier, more vertical rear seats. Both models feature 60/40-split rear seats that can be flipped up for hidden storage.

The Maverick’s 4.5-foot bed is versatile and spacious, featuring dual covered bins, up to 10 tie-downs, bed lighting, and aluminum rails, resembling the beds of larger trucks. It boasts an adjustable tailgate capable of holding up to 400 pounds and accommodating 4×8 sheets of plywood without a bed extender. Ford claims that two mountain bikes can fit into the bed with angled front wheels.

The Santa Cruz’s bed has a sloped design with the bottom longer than the top, measuring at 48.4 inches. It includes a built-in tonneau cover, hidden bed storage with a drain plug, and a manual sliding rear window for convenient access. Both trucks have short bed walls for easy exterior access, and a manageable lift-in height, allowing dogs of various sizes to enter comfortably without assistance.

Image Source: arren Brode / Shutterstock

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