Compact Pickup Faceoff: Ford Maverick Vs. Hyundai Santa CruzJul 30th, 2021
Automakers are starting to realize that not every customer needs a big, full-size pickup and the demand for compact and mid-sized pickup trucks are back on the rise. Over the past few years, we’ve seen Ford reintroduce the Ranger, General Motors update the Canyon and Colorado lineups, as well as Nissan and Toyota announce redesigned 2022 models on their respective Frontier and Tacoma. These mid-sized trucks are still body-on-frame vehicles, generally with poor fuel efficiency, and have grown so much in size that they’re no longer considered “small”.
Now enter the age of the compact truck – most notably Ford’s Maverick to rival Hyundai’s all-new Santa Cruz. Both are unibody design built on SUV’s platforms with the flexibility of an open truck bed… so let’s compare!
Size Dimensions, Towing, Hauling and Off-Road Capability
Both compact pickups are built on SUV platforms rather than traditional truck platforms. This means that the Maverick is built on the Escape and Bronco Sport platform, while the Santa Cruz is built on the Tucson’s. You can think of them, in effect, as longer versions of their SUV relatives with open cargo areas. The longer of the two is Maverick by a full 4.0 inches – mostly due to a longer 2.8-inch wheelbase. It’s also taller too, by a whole 2.0 inches, but narrower than the Santa Cruz by 2.6 inches. Interior rear legroom for the Maverick is rated at 35.9 inches on the hybrid model and 36.9 inches for the gas, compared to the unofficial figure of 26.5 inches on the Santa Cruz.
For bed space the Maverick is longer at 54.4 inches compared to the Santa Cruz’s 52.1 inches. Both are wide enough for a standard 4x8 piece of plywood, both have tailgates that can be set to the middle position to hold cargo, both have two-level load floor, and both have power outlets in the bed.
Since these are trucks, we need to discuss towing capacity and payload, because despite their small sizes, both trucks can tow and haul! Regardless of which Maverick you choose it’ll tow 2000 pounds, and the AWD model increases that up to 4000 pounds with the optional 4K Tow Package. The standard Santa Cruz can tow 3500 pounds and the AWD model will tow 5000 pounds. Maverick can also haul 1500 pounds, and the Santa Cruz can haul an unofficial 1748 pounds.
Since you’re thinking about getting into a truck, you may need your vehicle to perform off-road – sorry Hyundai, but the Maverick has you beat here. While they both have the same 8.6 inches of ground clearance and offer AWD, only Maverick offers the FX4 package with all-terrain tires, protective skid plates, and recovery tow-hooks.
Starting with the Santa Cruz, the best way to describe the exterior design is unique. It seems to follow the design language of the new 2022 Tucson SUV which stands out on the road. The housing for headlights, taillights, and overall body lines of the Santa Cruz looks sharper and more aggressive. In fact, when looking at the Santa Cruz head on, it looks so much like the Tucson. Now with Maverick, Ford have gone for a more conservative design for the exterior. It looks more rugged and boxy, its undeniably a truck – just smaller. The housing for the headlights and taillights follows very similar design language from F-150, Ranger and Bronco Sport models – we’re all big fans.
When it comes to the interior functionality on both these compact trucks, they’re going to be similar. Both will come standard with 8-inch touch screens with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as premium audio systems from B&O and Bose available on the Maverick and Santa Cruz respectively. When you opt for the higher trims, Lariat and First Edition on the Maverick, and Ultimate AWD on the Santa Cruz, you can expect leather interior surfaces and enhanced safety technology.
If fuel economy is a priority on your compact pickup, Maverick has you covered. This is the first-ever standard full hybrid pickup! The 2.5L Hybrid Engine is paired to a Continuously Variable Transmission for a targeted estimated 5.9/100km city fuel consumption rating. This makes 191hp and 173lb-ft of torque. Note that front-wheel drive is the only drivetrain available with the hybrid engine. If you want something more powerful, the 2.0L EcoBoost is available which generates 250hp and 277lb-ft of torque through an 8-speed automatic with AWD. The Santa Cruz is the more powerful option of the two trucks with its standard 2.5L four-cylinder which makes 191hp and 181lb-ft through and 8-speed automatic transmission, with an optional 2.5L turbocharged four-cylinder which makes 281hp and 311 lb-ft through and 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
We hope that gives you some useful information on what new compact pickup is right for you. Our choice is the Ford Maverick – it’s simplistic, truck-like design is still fresh and modern, we have a standard hybrid engine, and MSRP is almost $4000 cheaper than our Hyundai competitor. We can’t wait to get behind the wheel! Look at the comparison chart below for some quick facts on which is better for you.
|2022 Ford Maverick||2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz|
Available Engines and Transmission
|2.5L Hybrid and CVT (Standard), 2.0L EcoBoost 4-Cylinder and 8sp Automatic|| 2.5L 4-Cylinder and 8sp Automatic (Standard)|
2.5L Turbocharged 4-Cylinder and 8sp DCT
| 2.5L Hybrid: 191hp and 173lb-ft|
2.0 EcoBoost: 250hp and 277 lb-ft
| 2.5L: 191hp and 181 lb-ft|
2.5L Turbo: 281hp and 311lb-ft
|Fuel Economy||Estimated 5.9L/100km (Hybrid)||Information N/A|
|Trim Levels||XL, XLT, Lariat, First Edition||Preferred AWD, Preferred AWD w/ Trend Pkg, Ultimate AWD|
|Towing Capacity|| 2000lbs (Standard)|
| 3500lbs (Standard)|
|Payload||1500lbs (Standard)||Information N/A|
|Trim Levels||XL, XLT, Lariat, First Edition||Preferred AWD, Preferred AWD (Trend Pkg), and Ultimate AWD|