Tested: 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Shuns Convention

Hyundai's new Santa Cruz compact truck attempts to skirt the rules for traditional pickups.

Breaking into the lucrative truck market isn't for the faint of heart. Subaru's Baja lasted four short years, Honda had to butch up the looks of its Ridgeline to secure a seat at the table, and even Toyota's T100 stumbled until it became the V-8-powered Tundra. And who can forget the Ford Explorer Sport Trac? It would seem that to succeed in this segment, your truck had better look and perform like, well, a truck.

In what may be an attempt to manage expectations, Hyundai isn't using the "t" word to describe its new entry, instead referring to it as a "Sport Adventure Vehicle." Hyundai even goes so far as to claim the Santa Cruz wasn't designed as a mid-size truck competitor, but one look at the package and it's hard to classify it as anything else.

2022 hyundai santa cruz 25t limited awd
Drive it and you're not so quick to use the "t" word. The Santa Cruz rides on an extended version of the Tucson crossover's platform, with struts up front and a multilink suspension with self-leveling dampers out back. Its 118.3-inch wheelbase (nearly 10 inches longer than the Tucson) contributes to a calm and composed ride, with none of the rear-end skittishness sometimes present in a full-size pickup with an empty bed. Maneuverability around town is carlike. At 195.7 inches long and 75.0 inches wide, the Santa Cruz easily slots into parking spots. Driven with haste along two-lane back roads, the Santa Cruz is agile, remaining relatively flat through the corners.
2022 hyundai santa cruz 25t limited awd
Lesser Santa Cruz models ditch the turbo and the dual-clutch for a 191-hp 2.5-liter and a conventional eight-speed automatic. The base 2.5-liter musters just 181 pound-feet of torque and is something we'd skip. We haven't tested that version yet, but in an all-wheel-drive Tucson, the nonturbo 2.5-liter results in a sluggish 8.8-second time to 60 mph. Front-wheel drive is standard here, with all-wheel drive a $1500 option. There's no hybrid variant, but since the Tucson features both hybrid and plug-in versions, we predict the closely related Santa Cruz will follow suit in the future. In terms of fuel economy, the standard 2.5-liter four holds a slight advantage: an EPA combined estimate of 23 mpg versus the turbo model's 22, although our test car did average 30 mpg on our 75-mph highway test, bettering its highway estimate by 3 mpg.

Despite its Tucson underpinnings, the Santa Cruz is capable of trucklike activities. Turbo all-wheel-drive models are rated to tow 5000 pounds, and even the base front-drive setup can tow 3500 pounds. Trailer sway control, a function of the stability-control system, helps mitigate untoward trailer motions and comes standard on all models. Off-road excursions are also possible, as 8.6 inches of ground clearance is enough to get you into the rough stuff. A decent 23.2-degree departure angle will ensure you'll get out of most moderately difficult situations without leaving the rear bumper on the trail. The journey itself might not be entirely smooth, as we found that the stickiness of the Santa Cruz's floor-mounted throttle pedal can make it difficult to maintain a smooth crawling speed.

2022 hyundai santa cruz 25t limited awd
Duality of purpose notwithstanding, the true make-or-break feature here lies out back. Where most truck beds are a blank canvas, this is more of an artist's toolkit. As the Santa Cruz is designed exclusively for the North American market, the development team worked to bake in the kind of usability and versatility that would appeal to the outdoor-adventure set marketers love to target. Key to this mission is a dent-resistant molded composite bed (as opposed to stamped steel), which allowed the team to utilize every square inch of the space—whether it's in, under, or atop the bed.

Packed with cubbies and hidden compartments, the Santa Cruz's plastic bed is more intricate than a puzzle box. Just as in the Honda Ridgeline, there's a lockable underfloor storage space located close enough to the tailgate that it's easy to retrieve items without straining yourself. Drain plugs make it a perfect place to keep drinks on ice. More storage can be found on the sides of the bed behind the wheel wells, along with an AC power outlet with enough current to run a small refrigerator. There are tie-downs throughout, as well as an adjustable cleat system. The space above the wheel wells is wide enough to accommodate four-foot-wide sheets of plywood.

2022 hyundai santa cruz 25t limited awd
Hyundai also went bonkers on the accessories. Whatever item your hobby requires, the Santa Cruz can likely secure, store, and transport it. With the tailgate down, it can accommodate a couple of dirt bikes or kayaks. A factory tonneau cover retracts to the front of the bed and is a lot easier to use than the folding jobs seen on some pickups. Precut tabs on the top of the bed rails can be punched out to add a canopy system. And when was the last time you saw a truck with roof-mounted crossbars?

Climb in and you'll discover a refined interior largely shared with the Tucson. A reasonably hushed 67 decibels of noise creep into the cabin at 70 mph, with full-throttle pulls registering only 72 decibels on our sound meter. The instrument panel and infotainment screen are neatly tucked into the dash, rather than being mounted on top. The result is a clean, low-profile dashtop, which allows for excellent forward visibility. The Santa Cruz accommodates tall passengers in both rows, with plenty of headroom and decent legroom in the rear. Like many pickups with small sliding rear windows, objects that pass through are limited to things the size of soccer balls and six-packs.

2022 hyundai santa cruz 25t limited awd
The center stack features all of Hyundai's latest tech. Most models feature an 8.0-inch touchscreen, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. Exclusive to the Limited trim is a 10.3-inch screen with navigation. As with the Tucson, the system with the larger screen can't do wireless phone mirroring; you'll have to plug in your phone like it's 2018. Most controls surrounding the system are of the capacitive-touch variety; they look sleek but attract their fair share of fingerprints and aren't as user-friendly as the physical buttons found in other Hyundai models. In what's a first for the brand, a tiny little Santa Cruz emblem adorns the controls for air recirculation and hill-descent control. The Santa Cruz's interior and exterior is peppered with other Easter eggs.

Despite what Hyundai claims, those little illustrations indeed resemble the shape of a truck because the Santa Cruz's silhouette says truck. But the exterior lacks the upright and squared-off look that characterizes traditional pickups. The styling is a muscular and bulked-up take on Hyundai's latest design language, and the big, bold grille full of brightwork is handsome. But the Santa Cruz looks like a crossover-turned-pickup. It makes no attempt to hide its roots.

2022 hyundai santa cruz 25t limited awd
Arguing how truckish it is or isn't might be fun for internet arguments (Please comment below—Ed.), but the biggest obstacle for the Santa Cruz could be its price. Base SE versions begin at $25,215 and include a good amount of standard equipment, but opting for the turbo requires an additional $10K. Top-spec Limited models begin at a steep $40,945. This pricing becomes an issue when you consider a world where the similarly sized Ford Maverick exists. A Maverick starts at just a hair over $20,000 and features a standard hybrid powertrain that's good for a 37-mpg combined EPA fuel-economy rating; more powerful turbocharged versions top out at a still-frugal 26 mpg combined. The Maverick also features more conventional truck styling, which might make it more attractive to more conventional truck buyers. But Hyundai is taking another tack—it remains to be seen if its gamble will pay off. So perhaps the question becomes: Do you want a truck, or do you want a Santa Cruz?

Hyundai Creta facelift

Hyundai will officially present a restyled version of the current, second-generation Crete crossover on November 11, but the set of images has already leaked to the public.

Like previously published drawings, these images also confirm that this smaller crossover will get a completely redesigned front end, modeled on the new Tucson, with a wider grille and new headlights and bumper.

There will be minor changes in the back as well as in the interior (the 8.0-inch screen of the multimedia system and 10.25-inch digital instruments stand out). Also, a wider list of safety and driver assistance systems is announced (automatic braking system, adaptive cruise control, maintenance of vehicles in the lane).

There will also be a Bose audio system with 8 speakers, a panoramic roof, front seats with ventilation, a compartment with cooling on the passenger side, ambient lighting ...
The renewed Hyundai Creta will first appear in Indonesia (with a 1.5-liter gasoline engine with 115HP and in versions with 5 and 7 seats), and then in China, India, Brazil, Thailand ...

Hyundai Staria Load

Staria Load is the latest, delivery version of Hyundai's MPV model Staria, which in the passenger edition can accommodate up to 11 people.

This Hyundai Staria Load is already available in Australia, in two- or five-seater variants, in Shimmering Silver and Creamy White colors, as well as with a 2.2-liter diesel engine of 174hp and 430Nm (with an 8-speed automatic transmission).

The luggage space has a volume of 4935 liters, and part of the equipment includes seven airbags, electric parking brake, keyless entry system, wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto ...

Prices start at 45,740 Australian dollars.

Hyundai Ioniq 6 postponed due to redesign

Hyundai’s new electric car, the Ioniq 6, was first seen on the road but reports from Korea suggest the final design will change significantly.

According to the Korean Economic Diary, the launch of the Ioniq 6 was moved to mid-2022 to allow for a 20mm body extension, the bumpers and headlights restyled, and the battery increased from 72.6 kWh to 77.4 kWh.

The design changes should mean that the electric showroom looks more like the striking Prophecy concept, which had its public appearance at the recent Munich Motor Show. The prototype spotted here has a much more conventional headlights and a more upright silhouette than the concept, although the gaps in the camouflage show a similar design of the pixel-style taillight.

The delayed launch of the EV is also attributed to the delayed overhaul of the Asean factory where it will be produced. That place is currently making the Sonata limousine and it needs to be rearranged to make cars based on the E-GMP platform.

Technically, the Ioniq 6 will be largely identical to the Ioniq 5, with which it shares the new E-GMP architecture. This means that 800 V charging hardware will appear, and the sedan will probably be offered with a choice of single-engine and twin-engine powertrains.

However, the battery capacity of 77.4 kWh would only surpass the 73 kWh 5-pack, which, with a more open focus of the 6 on aerodynamic efficiency, is likely to push the maximum range over 300 miles.

It remains unconfirmed whether a smaller battery of 58 kWh will be an option.

The 77 kWh battery is already available in Kia’s new EV6 crossover, suggesting that the Ioniq 6 could be technically more closely connected to that car. This means that the rear-wheel drive version is likely to use a 226hp engine, while all-wheel drive cars will produce 321hp or — in the premium N variant — a matching 576hp EV6 GT.

Hyundai i20 N First Drive: Hyundai’s Best Driver’s Car

The i20 N is an absolute riot. Unfortunately, we can’t have it.

Americans have a pathological aversion to subcompact hot hatches. Mini's John Cooper Works variant of its Hardtop is the sole stateside representative of a performance car genre that's been highly successful in Europe and Asia. The entertaining Ford Fiesta ST, launched in late 2013, lasted just five years before Dearborn pulled the plug. We never even got Toyota's grin-a-mile GR Yaris, with Toyota ending the importation of even the mainstream Yaris to the U.S. And so our chances of seeing Hyundai's new i20 N on American roads are precisely … zero. 

Which is a shame, because the little i20 N is the best driver's car Hyundai makes, sharper and more focused than the Veloster N, the Elantra N, and the Kona N, cars that have impressed us with their punchy performance and fun-to-drive dynamics. Indeed, the buzz in Europe is the i20 N has what it takes to shake the subcompact hot hatch crown from the current-generation Fiesta ST.

2021 Hyundai i20 N Specifications 10

The i20 N is more than just some extra muscle under the hood, as it combines the engine's extra grunt with bigger wheels and stiffer suspension, and wraps it all in bright paint with a few aero addenda. With N division founder and former BMW M chief Albert Biermann now head of R&D for the entire Hyundai-Kia group, N models are part of the vehicle development process from the get-go, and the i20 N is one of the first fruits of this new system, arriving less than 18 months after the mainstream i20 hatch hit the market in Europe and Asia.

The Dirty Bits

Regular i20s are powered by a 1.0-liter three-cylinder or a 1.2-liter four-cylinder gas engine (a 1.5-liter diesel four is available in some markets), none boasting more than 118 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque. The i20 N gets a tweaked version of the 201-hp 1.6-liter turbo four-banger found in the Elantra N Line sedan. In i20 N-spec, the engine benefits from a new intercooled turbocharger setup that boosts torque output to 203 lb-ft from 1,750 rpm to 4,500 rpm. There's also an overboost function that allows the little four-pot to muster 224 lb-ft of twist from 2,000 rpm to 4,000 rpm for short periods.

The only available transmission is a six-speed manual that's been upgraded to handle the extra torque and the shock of full-throttle launch-control starts. As with all N cars, the i20 N has a limited-slip differential, although it's a mechanical unit with a Torsen gear optimizing the torque flow across the front axle rather than a more expensive electronic diff.

In terms of the chassis setup, the spring, damper, and anti-roll rates have all been substantially stiffened. The i20 N's suspension is simpler than that of its larger N siblings; the shocks are passive, and the rear axle is a torsion-beam unit rather than multilink. The front suspension has reinforced top mounts and knuckles, however, and an additional brace in the rear load space helps keep the torsion-beam rear axle more precisely located. To cope with the increased dynamic loads—and to give the suspension a more rigid foundation—the body shell has been reinforced in 12 different places, particularly around the front subframe.

2021 Hyundai i20 N Specifications 13

The i20 N retains the column-mounted motor for the electronic power steering system (EPS), but the steering rack ratio has been sharpened from 12.4:1 to 12.0:1, while the motor's retuned to improve its response and better counter torque steer. New front disc brakes have rotors 1.6 inches larger in diameter than those of the regular i20, and new hubs mean the i20 N's 18-inch forged wheels, shod with Pirelli P Zero tires specially developed for the car, are located by five lugs rather than the four of the regular i20.

On paper, the i20 N, with its passive shocks, torsion-beam rear axle, column-mounted EPS, and lack of a dual-clutch automatic transmission, doesn't seem as sophisticated as the bigger N cars. On the road, it's a different story.

Getting Down To Business

There's a solidity to the body structure that makes the no-nonsense tautness of the suspension feel engineered into the car, not merely bolted on. And the control weights—the lovely, mechanical throw of the gearshift; the consistent arc of the clutch; the firm, easily modulated brake pedal; and the crisp steering response—all have the smooth, measured heft you'd normally associate with something engineered in Germany, not Korea.

It's not all dour seriousness, though. "The i20 N is more of a rascal than the i30 N," Hyundai-Kia dynamics engineer Alex Eichler, who's based at the company's technical center in Russelsheim, Germany, said. He's absolutely right. This Hyundai is a lively, energetic little machine with a giant-killing personality.

2021 Hyundai i20 N Specifications 20

The i20 N offers six different drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport, N, and two different configurable N Custom settings that let you mix and match the settings for the engine, steering, stability control, and exhaust sound. In addition to the standard launch control system, the onboard computers will also automatically match revs on downshifts and allow you to left-foot-brake while keeping your right foot on the throttle.

In Normal mode, the i20 N is a fun little commuter car. Yes, the ride is busy—hardly unexpected in a stiffly suspended car that weighs just over 2,600 pounds and has a short wheelbase—but not uncomfortably so. And being a Hyundai, you get a lot of comfort and convenience for your money (in Europe, the i20 N is priced within a few bucks of the Fiesta ST), including a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, cruise control, and a rear parking camera.

But the real fun starts when you tap the N button and switch everything to maximum attack.

The i20 N's 1.6-liter turbo engine is workmanlike rather than charismatic, and it's happiest muscling around in the midrange. Keep the revs between 3,000 rpm and 5,500 rpm, working that terrific transmission, and the little Hyundai zings down the road, darting from apex to apex like a kart. Hyundai claims a 0-60-mph time of about 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 142 mph, and the i20 N feels every bit that rapid. 

It'll only take a few miles before you thumb the red button under the right spoke of the steering wheel to switch off the rev matching. The beautifully weighted pedals are perfectly placed for neat and quick heel-and-toe downshifts, the exhaust pop-pop-popping joyfully on the overrun as you brake deeper and deeper into corners.

Crisp As A Fresh Potato Chip

The i20 N has the superlatively authoritative front end that's now a hallmark of Hyundai's N cars, reacting instantly to steering inputs and delivering truly impressive levels of grip. The little hatch rotates promptly on corner entry, the inside rear wheel cocked in the air like a dog's leg at a fire hydrant, and the mechanical limited-slip differential allows you to get on the gas much sooner than you can in almost any other front-drive car; and, contrary to what you might expect, it helps tuck the nose tighter in toward the apex.

A fast run along a twisting two-lane will have you grinning from ear to ear at the sheer audacity of it all. This Hyundai feels wonderfully agile and alert but not nervous, and there are few hot hatches that can generate its raw midcorner pace.

2021 Hyundai i20 N Specifications 38

The i20 N is just one more reason Hyundai is the company Toyota should fear most. The mainstream Hyundai lineup is already better styled, better equipped, and, frankly, better to drive than most comparable Toyotas. With the launch of the i20 N, Hyundai now offers enthusiast drivers a wider selection of accomplished and affordable performance machinery than its Japanese rival.


Hyundai has introduced the concept of a hydrogen-powered supercar

At the global Hydrogen Wave Forum held yesterday, the Hyundai Group presented its plans to popularize hydrogen by 2040 by introducing new technologies in transportation and other sectors, but also by introducing the concept of a hydrogen-powered supercar.

With a maximum power of around 680 hp, the Vision FK concept can accelerate from 0 to 100km / h in less than four seconds. By combining the energy conversion of high-power fuel cells, the Vision FK can be charged in 20 minutes and reach a range of over 600 km.

However, this concept of a supercar is only one part of the Korean company's vision regarding hydrogen. Hyundai Motor Group believes that by 2040, hydrogen energy will be used not only for transportation, but will also be applied to wider areas of various industries and sectors. For example, a drone trailer with fuel cell propulsion was presented, which enables control of lateral movements. The drone trailer can move autonomously through the domains of ports and narrow urban areas.

The H mobile station was also presented, which is actually a vehicle for higher loads, equipped with devices for charging hydrogen-powered vehicles. This portable charging station offers a charging capacity for 25 NEXO models at once, also offering the option of charging in areas with limited hydrogen stations or non-functioning stations.

The Hyundai Group will continue to develop hydrogen mobility, expand the fuel cell production system and establish infrastructure for the hydrogen community. This is evidenced by the fact that they have already started mass production of an improved version of the existing XCIENT model, the first global fuel cell truck.

Hyundai Casper - "good spirit" for Asian customers

Hyundai plans to conquer the unique Indian market with Casper, but also the rest of Asian countries.

"The hard nut is a strange fruit, don't break it but break your teeth," said Bishop Danilo in "Gorski vijenac". This could be perfectly applied to India and the automotive scene there, where numerous European brands were tested and the list ended in serious failure.

Whether Hyundai could succeed where Europeans are not, the new Casper will show. It is a miniature SUV model, in fact, if you believe the South Korean press representatives, it is also the smallest SUV in the world.

Casper is only 3,595 mm long, 1,595 wide, 1,575 high with a wheelbase of 2,400 mm. So, it is clear that this crossover belongs to the A segment, and in Europe its rival would be Fiat's Panda Cross or, say, Dacia Spring.

What about design? Striking appearance, with the application of some of the stylistic features used by other Hyundai models. First of all, a two-part light group on the front of the vehicle, while at the rear we see a similar look as with the Ioniq 5.

A side view indicates some interesting design solutions, such as a hidden rear door handle, but also very small overhangs and a cubic shape. Still, judging by the looks, the trunk will be extremely modest, but let’s wait for Hyundai’s final data before reaching a verdict on the matter.

The Koreans did not provide information about the appearance of the cabin, although it was announced that the Casper will be a four-seater, and that it will offer a "modern interior". What we do know is what the engine range will look like, and it will consist of two units.

Both powertrains have three cylinders and a displacement of one liter. The introductory engine is atmospheric with 76 hp, while the latter has the right to a turbocharger and has 100 "heads". These are aggregates available in the home, Korean market.

For India, there is a serious chance that a completely different choice will appear, several media outlets state that Indians will be able to buy a Casper with a 1.2-liter atmospheric block, well known to us from the i20 and i10 models for the European market.

The tiny SUV is positioned on the K1 platform, making it a close relative with vehicles like the aforementioned Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto.

According to unofficial data, Hyundai should start production of the Casper in mid-September. From unnamed sources, news is coming that the Koreans are also working on a fully electric version of this SUV. The EV edition could reportedly be on the market in 2023.

As far as is known, Hyundai does not intend to offer Casper in Europe. But if the public interest in the Old Continent shows for such a four-wheeler, there is no doubt that Hyundai could easily change its position.

Hyundai Kona N SUV review

“In the Kona N, Hyundai has created another fantastic performance model - one that makes a great alternative to a Volkswagen T-Roc R”


  • Very quick
  • Lots of standard equipment
  • Cheaper than nearest rivals


  • Automatic only
  • Too many drive settings
  • i30 N is bigger and costs less

The standard Hyundai Kona isn’t our favourite car in its class but the Kona Electric is one of the best electric cars on sale. The Kona range is now even broader and better with the introduction of the Hyundai Kona N, a high-power, performance-focused model. Despite the car industry moving towards electrification, Hyundai still sees a place for fast and loud petrol cars for enthusiasts to enjoy.

The world of fast small SUVs wasn’t very heavily populated until relatively recently but now the Volkswagen T-Roc R, BMW X2 M35i, Audi SQ2 and MINI Countryman JCW are all fighting it out for supremacy. There’s also the more affordable and less powerful (but no less fun) Ford Puma ST. Hyundai has found a gap in the market directly between these cars, making the Kona N more powerful than the Ford but less expensive than all its other rivals.

The car’s 276bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine is shared with the Hyundai i30 N, as is most of the rest of the running gear. The i30 N is one of our favourite hot hatchbacks, so the recipe is a good one and sets the Kona N up well. A 0-62mph sprint can be done in 6.4 seconds, unless you engage launch control, in which case it’s just 5.5 seconds. This makes the car easily quick enough to mix with its rivals, despite the Kona N only coming with front-wheel drive.

But the Kona N allows you to dial back the performance with a slightly bewildering range of driving modes (even ones for mud and snow). Sticking it in Eco or Normal will make the car feel little different to a standard Kona and the ability to calm things down suits the car’s slightly raised driving position.

The Kona N has joined the range as part of the model’s facelift, so it feels fresh and modern inside. Digital dials are standard, as is a new 10.25-inch touchscreen, while a smattering of specific badges and stitching choices elevate it above the regular Kona. The price of the N may look high compared to entry-level versions of the Kona but you get a huge amount of kit as well as the performance, such as a head-up display, a premium sound system and heated and cooled electrically adjustable seats.

While the Kona N does share its running gear with the i30 N, it’s slightly more expensive, slightly less practical and doesn’t come with the option of a manual gearbox like the i30 N does. We can’t imagine any of these will be major issues if you like the Kona’s driving position and styling, however.

MPG, running costs & CO2

The Hyundai Kona N is thirsty, just like its rivals

More often than not, the trade-off for a powerful petrol engine is poor fuel economy - and that’s exactly the case here. While the Kona Electric and hybrid models are focused on efficiency, the Kona N certainly isn’t. It’ll achieve up to 33.2mpg at a steady cruise and much less if you drive it enthusiastically. In fact, use all of the car’s performance all of the time and you could end up travelling fewer miles on a tank than you’d get from a full charge in the electric model.

Whether you pick the Kona or another fast SUV like the Volkswagen T-Roc R or BMW X2 M35i, that’s about as efficient as a performance SUV gets. However, because the Kona doesn’t breach £40,000 like many of its rivals, private buyers will only pay the standard rate of tax per year. It almost goes without saying that the Kona N will be costly to run for company-car drivers, as its 194g/km CO2 output puts it firmly in the top Benefit-in-Kind band.

Engines, drive & performance

 The Kona N is one of the best hot SUVs on the market

The Hyundai i30 N was the brand’s first hot hatchback but Hyundai’s relative lack of performance-car experience meant nothing; the i30 N shot to near the top of the hot hatch class. The smaller, Ford Fiesta ST-rivalling Hyundai i20 N is also excellent, and the Korean company has done it again with the much-anticipated Kona N.

Just like the i30 N, the Kona N uses a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine that produces 276bhp. That enables a 0-62mph time of 6.4 seconds, or just 5.5 seconds if you engage launch control. In the past, launch control was reserved for supercars and sports cars but now you’ll be able to surprise people with a perfect launch in your small SUV. The Kona is only available with an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, whereas the i30 N is also available with a manual gearbox. We’d like the option of the six-speed manual here too, as the auto gearbox sometimes struggles to find the right gear.

The Kona N comes with electronically controlled dampers and a differential as standard in the UK, which, again, would previously have been reserved for the very best performance cars. You can feel the differential working if you press the throttle down mid-corner, as the car tightens its line and doesn’t stray wide. It makes the car’s performance feel accessible and gives you confidence to drive faster.

There are also a wide range of driving modes, from Eco and Normal to Sport and even mud/snow settings but the sportiest setup is accessed by pressing one of the N buttons on the steering wheel. With N mode engaged, the suspension firms up and makes the Kona more agile through corners. A wider track (the distance between left and right wheels) helps reduce body roll to almost zero.

Another Kona N-specific feature is the NGS button on the steering wheel. Press this and you’ll get a hit of extra power (the full 286bhp) for 20 seconds. We can see it being useful for quick overtakes, where you want all the power without having to resort to scrolling through all the driver modes.

Interior & comfort

 The Hyundai Kona N has a sporty feel inside and lots of equipment

Joining the range as part of the Kona’s facelift, the N benefits from Hyundai’s very latest interior design. There’s a new 10.25-inch touchscreen on top of the dashboard and a large digital instrument cluster instead of traditional dials. The N gets a sports steering wheel with the aforementioned N buttons, plus seats trimmed partly in leather and partly in Alcantara suede.

You’ll pay less for the Kona N than its main rivals but you’ll get more equipment as standard. The front seats are electrically adjustable, heated and cooled, while the outer rear seats and the steering wheel both have heating too. There’s also automatic climate control, wireless phone charging, a head-up display and a reversing camera.

Practicality & boot space

 The Kona isn’t the biggest inside and the i30 N has a bigger boot

One of our bugbears with the standard Hyundai Kona is that it is far from the most spacious small SUV on sale and the N is the same in this respect. A Volkswagen T-Roc R or a MINI Countryman JCW will be more comfortable for adults in the rear seats but then you might find it’s fine if you’re not regularly bringing mates along for the ride. We’d recommend sitting in the rear seats with the driver’s seat in your position before you buy.

Many small SUVs have a surprisingly large boot - the Renault Captur offers more space than some cars in the class above - but the Kona has one of the smallest boots in the class. The N’s 361 litres isn’t terrible but the i30 N offers more rear-seat and luggage space for a lower price.

Reliability and safety

 A five-star safety score and glowing customer satisfaction are both impressive

The standard Kona was the best-rated car on sale in our 2021 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, with top scores for everything except practicality. Although the Kona N wasn’t specifically mentioned in the result, it should be absolutely excellent to live with. Kona owners love the fit-and-finish, the technology and the driving experience - and the N provides tech and performance in spades. Hyundai’s five-year warranty is more generous than its rivals too.

Euro NCAP tested the Hyundai Kona in 2017 and awarded it a five-star score, with 89% protection for adult occupants. The range-topping Kona N features a host of driver assistance technology including adaptive cruise control, lane keeping and following, front and rear collision avoidance and a head-up display.


2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Review: A Good Kind of Weird

The verdict: A small pickup truck that doesn’t much look like one, the Santa Cruz “Sport Adventure Vehicle” (Hyundai’s preferred nomenclature) provides an impressive driving experience and utility in an unusual package that historically has struggled to find buyers.

Versus the competition: We haven’t yet driven the 2022 Ford Maverick, the other new compact pickup on the block, but we’ve been impressed by what we’ve seen thus far. The Santa Cruz takes a more premium and unconventional tack, but it seems more likely to face competition both from Hyundai and other brands’ compact and mid-size SUVs rather than traditional (or less traditional) pickups.

We’ve been teased by the idea of a Hyundai pickup truck for years and now, finally, here it is: the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz. Except … Hyundai won’t call it a pickup. No, the Santa Cruz is a Sport Adventure Vehicle, according to the automaker (Not to be confused with Sport Activity Vehicle, which is what BMW has always called its SUVs). But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Come closer. Closerrrrr. OK, ready for the secret?

It’s a pickup.

It’s a pickup in my book, anyway. If a vehicle has a pickup bed, it’s a pickup. (I will not be discussing whether a hot dog is a sandwich or if cereal and milk is soup.) That’s by no means a bad thing; we’re very excited about another unibody compact pickup truck, the 2022 Ford Maverick, and the less traditional unibody Honda Ridgeline is consistently a top finisher, if not a winner, in our mid-size pickup comparison tests.

The Santa Cruz looks even less like a pickup than the Maverick or Ridgeline, appearing to be more of a mid-size SUV with a bed. And between its looks and Hyundai’s unwillingness to call it a pickup truck, I have a feeling the Santa Cruz is going to be a more competitive choice among SUV shoppers, not those looking for a pickup — and having now driven one, I find the Santa Cruz a strange-looking but compelling choice.

Small in Size, Trick in Features Outside

What the Santa Cruz also lacks, at least in the realm of pickups, is size. It’s 4 inches shorter from bumper to bumper than the Ford Maverick and more than a foot shorter than the Honda Ridgeline. We’ve done a more thorough breakdown of its size elsewhere, which you should check out, but the key takeaway is this: It doesn’t look big.

The Santa Cruz’s bed itself also isn’t big, at just over 4 feet long when the tailgate is closed and more than 6 feet long with the tailgate completely lowered. The tailgate can also take up a middle position to provide support for carrying 4-by-8-foot sheets of plywood or drywall. Bed depth is 19.2 inches, and width varies from nearly 54 inches at its widest to almost 43 inches between the wheel housings.

To make up for the bed’s small size (even though it’s likely enough bed for the average consumer), Hyundai added a number of trick features. Most noticeable is a factory-installed integrated retractable tonneau cover (not available with the base SE trim, but available on the SEL and standard on the SEL Premium and Limited), which opens and closes easily. There’s also a strap attached to the cover to help pull it closed; in our test vehicle, it was clipped to the bed to keep the strap from getting lost in the back of the bed, though I wonder what the best way to store it would be if the bed were full of items. If it stays clipped, it could get in the way; unclipped, it might get lost in the cargo.

The bed also has a lockable underfloor storage compartment with drain plugs, which is truly another signifier that the Santa Cruz is a pickup: Owners can take it to a tailgate party and fill one of its compartments with ice and six-packs of b … sodas. There are additional lockable side compartments, one of which can be equipped with an optional 115-volt, low-current power outlet as well as LED lighting above the bed and on each side. To improve bed access, there are steps built into the corners of the rear bumper. Numerous factory and aftermarket accessories will also be available.

All of this utility might not be enough to sway pickup purists, but a Santa Fe with a lockable and more durable rear cargo area is an enticing proposition.

Hyundai also placed numerous visual “Easter eggs” on the Santa Cruz’s exterior, though they’re not very well hidden. There are Santa Cruz silhouettes on the fender moldings, rear bumper molding and on the molding atop the bed sides.

A Counterintuitive Cabin Inside

Unfortunately, a lot of that quality feeling is only skin-deep. Surfaces may be soft to the touch, but they lack underlying padding, particularly the upper portions of the front doors. Quality takes a dip in the backseat, where even the soft material is replaced by hard plastic. Cabin storage is also surprisingly minimal. There’s a decent-sized bin between the front seats but just a few small cubbies elsewhere up front, and much of the storage space ahead of the gear selector is taken up by the wireless charging pad.

Another strange quirk of the Santa Cruz, though not unique among Hyundais, is that the standard 8-inch touchscreen has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the 10.25-inch display on the Limited can use those functions only via a wired connection. Even stranger, a model with the 8-inch screen might not have a wireless device charging pad, while one is standard on models that don’t have wireless CarPlay or Android Auto. I only got to experience the 10.25-inch display and remain a fan, having used it in other Hyundai vehicles already. The graphics are clear and crisp and the menus are intuitive.

More tech comes in the way of a 10.25-inch digital instrument panel in place of the base trim level’s conventional gauges — it’s standard on the SEL Premium and Limited and optional on the SEL. The graphics are clear and operating the menu system is easy here, too, though in my short drive, I was not a fan of the flat display without a traditional cockpit-style hood over it. That’s likely something I’d get used to quickly, but given a choice, I’d rather have the traditional cover.

The elephant in the room is the use of capacitive-touch buttons for audio, navigation and climate control in lieu of physical buttons. The layout and design are similar to the Tucson’s and, while it may look modern (and save Hyundai some money), they’re harder to use, consumers consistently don’t like them, and the control area gets covered in fingerprints and smudges after brief use. There are some physical controls for features like the heated and ventilated seats, and there are redundant physical controls for the audio on the steering wheel, but the capacitive ones are still aggravating.

In the backseat, there’s adequate headroom and shoulder room for large adults, but the backseat’s high floor put my knees in a too-elevated position and there wasn’t as much legroom as I would’ve hoped. The high beltline results in small rear windows, too, which can make the back feel cramped. The Limited trim, at least, gets two additional charging-only USB ports for rear passengers (or device-happy front occupants).

How It Drives

Despite the added power and the added heft of AWD, the turbo four is only slightly lacking in fuel efficiency according to EPA ratings: 22 mpg combined, while both front- and all-wheel-drive versions of the non-turbo are rated at 23 mpg combined. Those numbers likely lag behind the hybrid Ford Maverick, but a better comparison — particularly for the turbo Santa Cruz — will be the turbocharged EcoBoost Maverick, which is not yet rated as of this writing.

An area where the Santa Cruz seems likely to distinguish itself is its maximum towing capacity: 3,500 pounds for FWD versions and 5,000 with AWD. That’s more than many compact and mid-size SUVs, more than the Maverick and equal or close to some mid-size pickups. Payload capacity varies from around 1,500 to 1,750 pounds, with more highly equipped models having lower capacities

I drove a Santa Cruz Limited with standard AWD, the turbocharged 2.5-liter and eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, a drivetrain it shares with the Sonata N-Line. The sportiness isn’t quite on the same level as the sedan (it is a pickup truck, after all), but on twisty mountain roads it handled itself ably. Power delivery is linear and with minimal delay, and the transmission finds the right gear easily enough that if it stumbled, I didn’t notice. While the power figures aren’t identical, this turbo four-cylinder and dual-clutch transmission combination can be found in high-level Santa Fe SUVs, where I also found it impressive.

Ride and handling impressed, as well, though with the 20-inch wheels, you definitely feel road imperfections. The ones we encountered didn’t unsettle the truck, but I have a feeling the ride would seem harsher if we had been driving on worse roads; I’m eager to get behind the wheel of one in Chicago and see if I’m right. At no point in my driving did I find the Santa Cruz to be a sports car hiding under an unusual pickup truck body, but for what it is, it’s pretty damn sporty.


As of this writing, the Santa Cruz has not yet been tested for crashworthiness by either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but you can check the links for yourself to see updates.

Standard safety technology on the Santa Cruz includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, a driver attention monitor and a rear occupant alert system. Move up the trim levels and you can add blind spot collision avoidance, rear cross-traffic alert and a safe-exit warning system. The Limited also adds adaptive cruise control with lane-centering steering, a 360-degree camera system and Hyundai’s Blind-Spot View Monitor.

Who’s Going to Buy One?

With prices from just over $25,000 to over $40,000, the Santa Cruz occupies a very interesting space. While more expensive than the Maverick, that price range is also where most compact SUVs reside, as well as many versions of mid-size pickups and even lightly equipped full-size pickups.

We keep hammering the point home that these small pickups and things like the Ridgeline are more than enough truck for the average buyer, but I’m not sure anyone is really listening. That said, as a pickup, the Santa Cruz is plenty capable.

And while the Santa Cruz probably isn’t going to influence the purchasing decision of those looking for a true pickup — whether that’s because of a purist’s idea of what a pickup should be, the Santa Cruz’s relatively small bed, specific additional capabilities mid-size and larger pickups might offer, or some other reason, this Hyundai might just need to look for a different kind of buyer. The Santa Cruz makes a compelling case as an SUV alternative with a different sort of utility. We’ll have to see if that’s enough to give the Santa Cruz the staying power many of its forebears lacked.


2022 Hyundai Kona N First Drive: An Impressively Great Time

When you're interested in performance cars, you want vehicles best engineered to deliver the most dynamic fun—and that means cars. We're talking coupes, sedans, and hatchbacks, not tall, heavy, bulky SUVs. Weight is the enemy of performance, as is a high center of gravity. Most new car buyers today, though, want SUVs; as such, a new common ground has emerged in the form of the performance SUV. It's not ideal, but this "solution" looks more and more like the future of factory-built performance. And if the 2022 Hyundai Kona N is any indication, the future doesn't look nearly as bad as you might fear.

What Is The 2022 Hyundai Kona N?

The reason: The Kona N is barely an SUV. Front-wheel-drive only and with just 1.1 inches of additional ground clearance compared to a Toyota Camry, the Hyundai Kona N is actually a high-ish-riding hot hatch. It's a Veloster N for people who can't do the three-door small hatchback thing and who want or need a bit more practicality and space.

That's the trade-off you make here. Standing about 6.0 inches taller and 93 pounds heavier than the Veloster N, the Kona N gives you the SUV-like tall seating position people love and the ability to put five folks in the car without any hassle. Cargo space is effectively the same in both cars.

2022 Hyundai Kona N side in motion 3 

Those pounds and inches don't sound like much, but they do make a material difference in the way the cars drive. The 2022 Hyundai Kona N is the slightly more mature, sophisticated machine of the two. That's not to say it's tame; it's still a wild child, just not quite as wild as the Veloster N.

Drive Yourself Wild

You feel it most in the Kona N's composure. It feels planted, hunkered down on the road despite sitting 1.5 inches higher above it. Where the Veloster N feels light on its feet and tossable, the Hyundai Kona N is more serious. Chuck the Veloster N into a corner, and it rotates, sliding just a bit as the tires howl but don't let go entirely. Not the Kona N. Its tires don't squeal, and it doesn't rotate. It digs its claws in and goes.

You don't even need to be childish with the throttle to break the tires loose mid-corner. Hyundai's electronically controlled N limited-slip differential is aggressive for a street car, transferring substantial power across the front axle to the outside tire. With 276 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque on tap and only the front wheels to take it, there's a little torque steer, but more often what you feel is the diff doing its thing. Rather than fighting you, the tug through the steering wheel pulls you into the corner. Catch a big enough midcorner bump, and the diff will actually tighten up your line too much, which you correct by either muscling it or, heaven forbid, backing off the throttle slightly.

2022 Hyundai Kona N rear three quarter in motion 2
 The power delivery also has its quirks. There's obvious turbo lag below 2,500 rpm, and the boost hits old-school with a big surge just past 3,000. If it bothers you, shifting manually with the paddle shifters to a lower gear before you enter a corner keeps the revs up and the boost on, but honestly the lag can be a useful tool. Left to shift itself, the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox will let the engine dig from 3,000 rpm even in its most aggressive shift program, and doing so affords you a beat to unwind the steering wheel before the boost hits. Done correctly, this allows you to get on the throttle super early in a corner knowing that by the time the boost hits, you'll be exiting the bend and straightening the wheel. The diff can figure out the rest, and it will.

Absent an irritation with turbo lag, there's no need to shift the transmission yourself. In its most aggressive setting, the gearbox makes excellent choices, and there's more than enough midrange torque to get you out of even the tightest corners in whatever gear it chooses. Shifts are buttery smooth, unless you push the big, red "NGS" button on the steering wheel; it stands for "N Grin Shift." Yes, really.

NGS activates an overboost function that buys you an extra 10 hp for 20 seconds, which you don't feel in the seat of your pants. It also bangs the shifts just a little to make it feel like you're really beating on the car. The function is generally only useful when you want every last pony, mainly when drag racing or coming off a corner onto a long straight. The button itself is located awkwardly at the four o'clock position, requiring you to move your right hand down the wheel and stretch your thumb out. It's rarely worth the effort.

Set It Up

2022 Hyundai Kona N side in motion 2

The buttons you do want to push are the N paddles just below the horizontal steering wheel spokes. In fact, the very first thing you should do when you buy a Kona N (or a Veloster N) is take the car to your favorite road, push the right paddle (which is N Standard mode and Custom 1; the left paddle is for Normal mode and Custom 2), and start playing with the customizable settings.

If your favorite road is anything other than a racetrack, N Standard mode is going to be way too stiff in terms of the suspension. Like in the Veloster N, we prefer the Kona N's electronically adjustable shocks in their softest setting. Anything else will have you bouncing around like the seats were replaced with trampolines. The body control is excellent regardless of shock stiffness, so there's no need to torture yourself.

Similarly, we prefer the lightest steering setting, as the heavier, supposedly sportier settings mostly make you work more for a minimal increase in road feel, which is already excellent for a high-powered front-drive car with electric power steering. Turn-in is sharp, though again not quite as razor's edge as the Veloster N's, and the ratio is appropriately quick, so you never have to take your hands away from nine and three to make a corner, no matter how tight.

The brakes require a likewise gentle touch. They're sensitive but not Veloster N touchy. They deliver a lot of initial bite, but it's easier to modulate and easier to get used to. The big discs are steel, but you really have to try to fade them on the street. Hours of hard driving on excellent mountain roads couldn't put a dent in them. It helps that you only really have to use them for tight corners, as the composure we mentioned earlier allows you to carry a ton of cornering speed and use the brakes mostly to transfer weight forward as needed.

2022 Hyundai Kona N rear three quarter in motion 4

When you do get into them hard, it's reassuring to know they aren't phased by bumpy braking zones. It's the only time you'll hear the tires chirp (aside from doing a burnout), but the ABS has zero issues stopping the car hard even when the surface isn't smooth.

2022 Hyundai Kona N dashboard

Unless you live in one of those swanky trackside villas, at some point you'll need to drive home in real-world traffic, and this is where the 2022 Hyundai Kona N really justifies itself. Set to its normal drive mode, the Kona N can easily be your primary car. It rides stiffly, sure, but no more so than any other performance car you might cross shop. The throttle programming backs way off, allowing you to behave like an adult when you want to rather than ripping away from every stop. The exhaust quiets down to a mildly sporty murmur, and the car becomes a sporty crossover, not a track machine.

The Bottom Line

Whichever personality you want, it's hard to make a case for any of the Hyundai Kona N's competitors. You already picked this over the Veloster N because you want a small SUV, not a traditional hatchback, and there's almost no competition in this space. The Kona N will run circles around a Mini Clubman JCW or Countryman JCW, and it'll stand up to a Mercedes-AMG GLA45 for probably about $20,000 less. (Hyundai hasn't announced pricing, but a Veloster N starts at $33,245 and a GLA45 at $55,500.) Unless you absolutely need to have the three-pointed star on your car, you won't miss anything buying the Hyundai.

That's what makes the 2022 Hyundai Kona N great: It's a hell of a performance bargain, it rips around more like a hot hatch than a fast SUV, and it satisfies any concerns you have about the wisdom of buying a Veloster N as your only car. It might not be the ideal performance car formula on paper, but when you're behind the wheel, we dare you to care.


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