One-Year Update: Here’s What I Love *and* Hate About Driving the Hyundai Santa Cruz

After a year and 12,000 miles, let's wrap up our Santa Cruz experience

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz - one-year update

TFL Studios had the Hyundai Santa Cruz in its long-term fleet for a year – here are our final thoughts.

We were lucky enough to get our hands on the Hyundai Santa Cruz right after it came out. Now, over a year later, we are returning the tiny pickup to Hyundai, and saying goodbye to a little friend. Over the past 12 months, the Santa Cruz served as a studio truck, and took part in many comparisons.

While not perfect, the little pickup is remarkably utilitarian. We hauled heavy items, ran a few road-trips and used it as a daily driver. 12,000-miles later, here are a few take aways.

Hyundai finally sorted the 8-speed dual clutch transmission!

After two transmission recalls, where Hyundai had to reprogram the eight-speed DCT, it finally began to shift better. At first, it was a tad jerky – and many suffered from failure. After the first recall, the Santa Cruz was almost undriveable as the shifting was even worse. We parked it for a while, until Hyundai issued a new recall – which seems to have taken care of most of the shifting problems.

Meanwhile, about six months ago – I bought a more basic (not turbocharged, non-DCT) Santa Cruz, and I’ve had no transmission issues so far.

The interior rubs Roman the wrong way

There are two notable issues Roman has with the interior of the Hyundai Santa Cruz. He finds the judicious use of shiny (and unsubstantial feeling) black plastics to be irritating. He notes that finger prints and dust increase almost daily. He also feels that interior colors would wake up the design. In addition, Roman notes that the back seat space isn’t very good – especially if the driver and front passenger are on the tall side.

A family of four can make it work effectively, but there will have to be compromise.

The Verdict

All of us at the TFL Studios like the little pickup, and we’re sorry to see it go. It has proven itself to be efficient, fun-to-drive and (as stated earlier) very utilitarian. Yes, the Maverick is more capable in many ways, but it drives a little bit like a truck. The Santa Cruz drives like a car, which is appealing to some.

In time, we’ll bring you updates on our other Santa Cruz – which has only exhibited one issue, an unfulfilled replacement of a recalled trailer wiring harness.

Check out the video!