Mullets are back in style and so is the “business in the front and party in the back” vehicle style that is the new Hyundai Santa Cruz. Out of nowhere, the Santa Cruz is selling like crazy and that could be in part because it’s a departure in shape and function from everything else on the market. Last month, it even dethroned Chevy’s Corvette as the fastest-selling new car in America.
Hyundai came up with some smart features for the Santa Cruz that makes it intriguingly useful for parents, especially in the bed trunk. If you have active kids, you know they’re prone to ridiculously dirty and stinky socks, shoes, clothing, team uniforms, and gear. In a typical family-friendly SUV, that means that after a game or practice, you’re forced to store anything pungent right there in the vehicle with you, and you can’t escape it. Plus if it’s really muddy (think football or soccer practice in the rain), it’s going to make a mess in the back of the SUV and then you have to vacuum it out (or not, depending on your tolerance level for dirt).
The brand is marketing its funky little SUV-pickup combo that is new Santa Cruz as the solution to that. Along with functions pickup truck users look for like heavy duty cargo D-rings, an adjustable utility track rail and cleat system, and sidewall bed storage compartments, the factory-installed tonneau cover (not available on base model, optional on SEL, and standard on SEL Premium and Limited trims) gives the Santa Cruz the functionality of a trunk but with the option to hose out the whole thing when you need to decontaminate it. Lockable underfloor storage with a drain plug gives you the option to put anything from fresh fish on ice to enough Gatorade for the basketball team in there.
I also appreciate the storage bin under the back seats, which reminds me of the Ford Maverick's clever under-seat storage. There's enough room for a couple of footballs or a bunch of snacks, which I've learned is the key to survival if you have a hangry (hungry/angry) kid on your hands. Rule number one: always have food nearby to appease your small animals. Actually, this works for pets, too: even if you don't have kids, this storage area is good for dog treats and water bowls and the like.
The tailgate is engineered to pop open hands-free, which is critical when your hands are full of kids and gear. With little ones, you could open the trunk with the key fob and dismantle the stroller with one hand, then pull the tonneau cover shut with the built-in strap.
Clearly, this car isn't made just for families, but it works well for parents because it’s practical. You can throw backpacks, toxic-smelling socks, sandy towels, or wet bathing suits in the bed and forget about it for three days and come back to it and it won’t smell up the whole vehicle. If your kids are tweens or teens, you could pass it down to them with warranty to spare (10 years/100,000 miles on the powertrain) when you’re tired of it and they can pack a dorm room’s worth of stuff in the back.
Just... maybe discourage the kids from growing a mullet in the meantime.
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