Doesn't seem possible, but it's been two years already since the Hyundai Santa Cruz and the Ford Maverick hit the market, sparking speculation that the decades-long drought of small pickups would result in boffo sales for both---nudging other manufacturers into the fray.
And while there are rumors that Toyota is considering a small pickup based on the Corolla Cross, that may be more a reaction to the Maverick than to the Santa Cruz.
This year so far, Ford dealers have found 66,430 buyers for their small truck---while Hyundai has only found 29,083 paying customers for the Santa Cruz.
How come? Well, the Maverick's baby F-150 styling probably helps. The Santa Cruz, despite being very attractive, has that same pre-facelift angularity the Honda Ridgeline had---and that's a taste American truck buyers, even American small truck buyers, don't seem to have acquired.
Equipped, as our tester was, with the 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder, the Santa Cruz is no slowpoke. 281 horsepower in a light(ish) small truck with power going to all four wheels results in 0-60 times of six seconds flat. EPA fuel economy estimate: 19 city/27 highway/22 combined.
Especially in Limited trim, the Santa Cruz' cockpit is nicer and more carlike than the Maverick's---but again, being less "trucky" hasn't been a recipe for sales success since Chevy El Caminos and Ford Rancheros roamed the earth. The Santa Cruz feels more like it's following in the footsteps of the Subaru Baja---which only lasted four model years (2003-2006).
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for the Santa Cruz is price. In top-of-the-line Limited trim, the base price is $41,615---a good five grand more than the starting price of the most expensive Maverick. The good news is that Hyundai makes virtually everything standard on the Limited---a complete suite of active safety features, 20-inch wheels, a power sunroof, LED bed lighting, rear sliding glass, an integrated tonneau cover, proximity key with pushbutton start, rain-sensing wipers, dual automatic climate control, leather-trimmed seats, and wireless charging.
In fact, the only extra-cost option on our tester was carpeted floor mats ($195). So, the bottom line on the window sticker reads $41,810.
Trouble is, even if you load a top-of-the line Maverick with every factory option, you come in about three grand under the Santa Cruz.
Is the Santa Cruz a nicer truck? I have to say yes. But the price difference and its less truck-like image may be holding it back.