- Small pickup trucks have arrived. The Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz are both new for 2022.
- Both pickups aim to offer truck capability in a compact, low-cost package.
- We drove both models and compared them across price, bed size, driving experience, and more.
The Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz have arrived. Brand-new for the 2022 model year, both aim to do essentially the same thing: offer pickup capability in a cheaper, smaller package.
But which one should you buy?
I tested both vehicles and can confirm they’re both great options for people who like the idea of a pickup, but want something that’s easier to drive and park than your standard, bulky truck.
Still, they each bring something different to the table. Here’s how the Hyundai and Ford compare:
The Maverick wins on price, with a starting MSRP of $19,995. For that low outlay, however, you don’t get basic comforts like cruise control and power mirrors. The Santa Cruz, by comparison, starts at around $24,000 and comes with more standard features, including lane keeping and wireless Apple CarPlay.
If you want an all-wheel-drive, turbocharged Santa Cruz, you need to choose an upper trim level and pay around $36,000. The same can be had on the Maverick for roughly $23,000.
The trucks are nearly identical in size: The Hyundai is 196 inches long, while the Maverick comes in at 200.
Both are compact enough that they’re fairly easy to toss around city streets or parallel park.
Powertrain and driving experience
The Maverick is your best bet for fuel economy. Its standard hybrid powertrain delivers 37 mpg combined, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The Santa Cruz gets up to 23 mpg combined.
All-wheel drive and a turbocharged engine are optional on both vehicles, with the latter recommended if you prize quickness and passing power. I found the Santa Cruz’s 2.5-liter turbo fun and punchy. The Maverick’s base engine, as efficient as it is, was sluggish getting up to speed.
Maverick buyers can add on an FX4 off-roading package, while Hyundai doesn’t offer an equivalent.
Both trucks’ beds are roughly the same size. The Santa Cruz’s is around four feet long, while the Maverick’s is 4.5 feet.
But the Santa Cruz comes with little storage cubbies that flank the bed and an under-bed cargo area. You can pay extra for cubbies in the Maverick. And both offer options like power outlets, lighting, and tonneau covers.
Both trucks are wide enough to fit 4×8 sheets of plywood across the wheel wells. And both encourage do-it-yourself improvements like dividers by providing slots in the bed that fit dimensional lumber.
Towing and hauling
I didn’t get to push the limits of these truck’s towing and hauling capabilities, but here are the numbers:
Maximum towing capacity is 4,000 pounds for the Maverick and 5,000 pounds for the Santa Cruz. That’s plenty to pull a small camper or some ATVs.
Payload capacity is about even: 1,564 pounds for the Maverick and 1,609 for the Santa Cruz.
The Santa Cruz looks more daring and off-beat than the Maverick, which has lots of right angles and conventional truck proportions.
I felt cooler driving the Santa Cruz than the Maverick, but — as with most of the differences between these two trucks — it’s all a matter of preference.
If your priorities are fuel economy, price, and a truck that’s built for work, the Maverick may be more your speed. If you’re more of a weekend warrior who wants something that will turn heads and carry your gear, the Santa Cruz could be a better choice. Hyundai doesn’t even call the Santa Cruz a pickup truck, after all, but rather a “sport adventure vehicle.”
But in truth, either model could excel at either of those roles. The choice is yours.