Best & Worst Hyundai Santa Cruz Years

We've taken a closer look at every Hyundai Santa Cruz from 2022 until the %%currentyear%% model and categorized the best & worst years for the car here.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll break down all of the Hyundai Santa Cruz generations, unveiling the best Santa Cruz years to buy and the worst years to avoid.

Drawing on extensive research and reliable sources, including NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and Edmunds, we ensure our recommendations are not just opinions but are backed by solid evidence and real-world experiences.

Focusing on Santa Cruz’s innovative blend of SUV comfort and pickup utility, you’ll explore its yearly reliability, technological and safety features, common issues, recalls, and resale values.

Let’s dive right in!

Related:Best & Worst Hyundai Santa Fe YearsBest & Worst Hyundai Sonata Years

Table of ContentsShow

Hyundai Santa Cruz Series Generations

The Hyundai Santa Cruz debuted in 2022, marking Hyundai’s innovative foray into the compact pickup truck market. This model introduced a unique blend of SUV comfort with the utility of a pickup, featuring a stylish design, a comfortable and tech-rich interior, and impressive versatility.

Aimed at those looking for the practicality of a truck without the bulk, it offered a powerful turbocharged engine and advanced safety features, setting a new standard for the segment.

All Hyundai Santa Cruz generations from 2022 to present.

1st generation (NX4a OB)2022-Present

Understanding the evolution between generations is crucial, especially for vehicles like the Santa Cruz, as these changes can significantly influence a potential buyer’s decision.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Best, Neutral, and Worst Years

When it comes to evaluating the best and worst years for the Hyundai Santa Cruz, our rankings take into account a variety of factors, such as:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

Here’s a quick glimpse at a graph that combines ratings from the sources mentioned, providing insights into the Hyundai Santa Cruz’s performance over the years.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Below, you’ll find a table categorizing all Hyundai Santa Cruz model years into the best, neutral, and worst years, offering a snapshot of each year’s standing.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st generation (NX4a OB)2023

By “Neutral Years,” we mean years that didn’t significantly stand out for being exceptionally good or bad based on our criteria. We don’t have any neutral years yet, though.

Factors like NHTSA recalls negatively impact our evaluations. More complaints and recalls correlate with lower reliability and satisfaction scores.

Let’s dive into the best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Hyundai Santa Cruz 1st Generation (2022-Present)

Hyundai Santa Cruz 1st generation 2022 model
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

The Hyundai Santa Cruz, since its 2022 introduction, has been a trailblazer in combining the versatility of a pickup with the comfort of an SUV. The best years for the Hyundai Santa Crus are 2023 and 2024, while 2022 is the worst year to avoid.

The Best Years: 2023, 2024

The 2023 and 2024 model years of the Hyundai Santa Cruz represent the best years of the first generation, with Hyundai addressing earlier concerns and enhancing the vehicle’s offerings.

These models come with two engine options: a standard 2.5L I4 engine delivering 191 hp and an optional turbocharged 2.5L I4 engine, which boosts the power to 281 hp.

Both engines are paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, with the turbocharged option featuring a dual-clutch design (D8LF1) for improved response and efficiency.

Fuel economy stands impressively at an estimated 21 city/26 highway MPG for the turbocharged version. Trim levels ranged from the practical SEL to the luxurious Limited, catering to various preferences and budgets.

These years also saw a ramp-up in standard safety features, including forward collision-avoidance assist, lane-keeping assist, and a driver attention warning system, alongside technological upgrades like a larger touchscreen and enhanced connectivity features.

The Worst Years: 2022

The inaugural 2022 model year of the Hyundai Santa Cruz faced notable challenges, primarily with its powertrain, that led to its classification as the worst year to avoid.

Early owners reported issues such as transmission slipping and unexpected loss of motive power, which were linked to malfunctions in the transmission oil pump.

This year was also marked by recalls concerning the tow hitch harness, which posed fire risks. These early obstacles highlighted the need for Hyundai to address and rectify these critical issues to restore confidence in the Santa Cruz lineup.

See NHTSA 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz recalls and complaints.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Resale Values

See how the Hyundai Santa Cruz’s resale values trend over time with this detailed graph.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Average List Price


After delving into the Hyundai Santa Cruz’s first generation, it’s clear that the 2023 and 2024 models emerge as the best model years for potential buyers, offering improved reliability, enhanced features, and better overall value.

Conversely, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz model year might be wise to avoid, given its initial hurdles with the powertrain issues.

Which feature of the Hyundai Santa Cruz do you find most appealing or innovative?

Share your views in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.