Hyundai Santa Cruz prices start higher than Ford Maverick

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Hyundai has released pricing information for the 2022 Santa Cruz, its first entry into America's super-lucrative pickup segment. Based on the Tucson, the trucklet is priced closer to Ford Ranger than to the new Ford Maverick.

Buyers have five trim levels to choose from called SE, SEL, SEL Activity, SEL Premium, and Limited, though the range is a little more complicated than that. The first three trims are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that sends 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive is optional. Stepping up to the SEL Premium or Limited trims brings a turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter whose output increases significantly to 275 and 310, respectively. It's all-wheel-drive only.

Pricing for a front-wheel-drive SE model starts at $25,175 including a $1,185 destination charge. Adding all-wheel-drive increases that figure by $1,500. Motorists who want the turbocharged engine will need to spend $36,865 for an SEL Premium, while the range-topping Limited is priced at $40,905, meaning it's approaching near-luxury-car territory.

But remember, the Santa Cruz won't be alone in the unibody pickup segment. Buyers seeking a truck that's built on car-like bones can also look at the Ford Maverick, which is about the same size as the Santa Cruz yet costs $21,490 including a $1,495 destination charge. The Maverick tops out in Lariat trim starting at $27,630 including destination.

Alternatively, there's the Honda Ridgeline, which is significantly bigger, more powerful, and correspondingly more expensive than either the Maverick or the Santa Cruz. It costs about $37,000.

Hyundai priced the Santa Cruz closer to the Ford Ranger, a more rugged body-on-frame model that carries a base price of $26,265 including a $1,195 destination charge, than to the Maverick, which is one of its closest rivals in terms of dimensions and capabilities. Time will tell whether this strategy will pay off. Built in Alabama, under the same roof as the Tucson it's related to, the Santa Cruz will reach showrooms across America in the coming weeks.

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