Close comparisons of the market's two most hotly awaited trucks—the unibody 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick—have so far been impossible, with the Hyundai's pricing remaining secret. Until now, that is, when Hyundai announced the Santa Cruz would start at $25,175, a whole $3,685 higher than the cheapest, steel-wheeled Maverick. This, though, Hyundai justifies by offering equipment that, on the Ford, comes as a costly option.
The first of these is found under the hood, where both base trucks feature a 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine powering the front wheels. In the Ford, this engine is a hybrid and turns the wheels through a CVT transmission, whereas the Hyundai is combustion-only and utilizes an eight-speed automatic—both which are more appealing to conventional truck buyers.
Buyers both conventional and radical will be interested in each truck's all-wheel drive, which is a cheaper option on the Hyundai, running $1,500 versus the Ford's $3,305. The Maverick, though, makes up some ground when it comes to the turbo engine. On the Ford, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost (and the eight-speed auto bundled therewith) is an $1,085 option on all trims. By contrast, Hyundai locks its 2.5-liter, 275-horsepower turbo engine to its highest AWD trims, SEL Premium and Limited, which run $36,865 and $40,905 respectively.
On the cheaper end of the spectrum, then, the Ford has the edge (pun intended) on power, while Hyundai has affordable AWD, not to mention more gadgetry and style on its base trim. Both trucks offer standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, though Hyundai sets itself apart by doing so wirelessly, and including standard ADAS—optional on the Ford.
Hyundai offers LED lighting for its composite bed and taillights, while the Ford gets them for its headlights by default. Maverick buyers, though, will have to cough up to match the Santa Cruz's standard alloy wheels and body-color mirrors, getting both of which requires vaulting up to the $26,985 Lariat trim.
Spending that money with Hyundai could get the SE AWD, but matching the AWD would force Ford buyers beyond the Santa Cruz SEL AWD's $29,875 territory. Both trucks can go at it until optioned to their respective maxes which, with top trim packages, turbo engines, AWD, and all options ticked, can break the $40,000 mark. That's literally Lightning money.
The way things stand now, it looks like the deciding factor for choosing between a Ford Maverick and a Hyundai Santa Cruz will be drivetrain preferences and styling. Those that demand cheap power or the mileage of a hybrid will favor the Ford, while those that need something more sure-footed will have the Hyundai. Perhaps the biggest consideration people will have after those is where they want their truck made, as the Hyundai will be built in Alabama whereas the Ford will be imported from Mexico.
With the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz hitting dealers this month, and the Ford Maverick not arriving until Fall, it'll be a while before we find out how these two trucks truly fare against one another.
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