A light blue 2022 Ford Maverick is shown from the side parked on a city street after winning a 2022 Ford Maverick vs 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz comparison.

2022 Ford Maverick vs 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Hear me out. Imagine a world where vehicle manufacturers no longer released brand new models and stuck with the vehicles that we already are well familiar with. Not very enjoyable, is it? No, it’s not, and that’s one of the reasons why the automotive industry never stays still for long, but we must stress this is nothing but beneficial to drivers everywhere as industry leaders continue to innovate and competitively one-up each other. This year, we’re seeing the release of some highly anticipated models from two of the most revered manufacturers out there, and we’ve been anxiously awaiting this comparison for some time. With that out of the way, which vehicle is the ultimate victor in the battle between the 2022 Ford Maverick vs 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz? The answer may surprise you, so read on to find out more.

The first thing that we know about these two vehicles is their associated trim levels that drivers will have the choice between. There’s some similarity to be had here as both the Maverick and Santa Cruz will be available with four trim levels. The base trim for the Maverick is called XL, and Santa Cruz’s base model is the SE. Above the base models, Ford’s offering also includes XLT, Lariat, and the Lariat First Edition. For the Hyundai Santa Cruz, the succeeding trims are SEL, SEL Premium, and Limited. As is with most vehicles, pricier trim levels will reap better results, but both offerings here manage to provide drivers with plenty of choices without becoming annoyingly frustrating during the shopping experience.

A green 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is shown from the rear driving on an open road past a lake.

What Do We Know About Performance?

We now finally have a good indication of how these two models should perform against one another. Before we talk about the two engines that each vehicle can be fitted with, it’s worth noting that the base engine for the Maverick is a hybrid, and this isn’t an option on Hyundai’s offering. This hybrid engine is a 2.5L four-cylinder that pairs to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and will lend itself to a towing capacity of 2,000 lbs – certainly ample for a hybrid.

Much like the Maverick, the Santa Cruz comes with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine, but this one is not a hybrid and comes paired with a regular 8-speed automatic transmission. While this engine can allow the Santa Cruz to tow around 1,500 lbs more than the Maverick, its fuel efficiency will suffer as a result. The EPA estimated ratings for the Santa Cruz with front-wheel drive are 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, which isn’t necessarily bad. However, the hybrid engine inside of the Maverick has an estimated 40 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, with a 500-mile range on a full tank of gas. This is simply incredible, and if fuel efficiency is something that you care deeply about, then picking the Maverick is a no-brainer.

As I mentioned earlier, both vehicles offer an additional engine for those who wish for something with some extra kick. The optional engine in the 2022 Maverick is an EcoBoost turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine that comes paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission instead of the CVT. This is a rather large shift from the base hybrid engine. However, this is important because those who want Ford’s latest vehicle but aren’t in the market for a hybrid can operate it as they would their previous car. Hyundai offers an optional turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder engine that does slightly outperform the EcoBoost in the Maverick but comes at a significantly higher price.

Flexing on the Competition

Perhaps the most significant difference between the Maverick and Santa Cruz is found when we compare the associated beds of the vehicles, and more importantly, the tailgates. Let’s start with the size of bed that you’ll get with each vehicle, starting with the Maverick, where it’ll measure out at 54.4 inches (4.5 feet). In comparison, the Santa Cruz comes with a 52.1-inch bed (4.3 feet), which fails to equal the Maverick’s bed size, although not by much. Sure, fitting cargo in the bed of your truck is important, but the Maverick has more than just a larger box – it also includes a couple of notable features that Hyundai has yet to adopt.

The first of these features that’s exclusive to the Maverick is the onboard power generator that can be implemented. Ford has done this before in models such as the F-150, and we’re glad to see it added to this new truck also. For those who opt for it, your Maverick will include two power outlets, each rated at 400 watts. These are located on opposite ends of the vehicle, with one being located inside the Maverick’s cabin and the other is located in the bed itself. Work, hobbies, you name it, the onboard power generator will offer you greater flexibility in how you use your truck and what comes along for the ride. Do you need to charge up your laptop before you get to the worksite? No problem. The same can be said for any power tools that may require electricity and everything in between.

Don’t think that this onboard generator is only useful for the workplace as it can be a game-changer in many different activities such as camping and tailgating at a sports event. This alone makes the Maverick’s bed better than the Santa Cruz, but that’s not all, as there’s one more exclusive feature that we’d like to discuss, and that’s the Ford FLEXBED. Other manufacturers have recently begun applying similar functions to their trucks, and for good reason, as the entire idea of this feature is to transform your tailgate for the situation at hand.

Let’s say you’re hauling a particularly large piece of cargo; you can gain a tad more space on your bed by utilizing a combination of the bed and retention cords to maintain a half-open position for the tailgate. Of course, this tailgate can come down to a flat 90-degrees, and this is best for unloading cargo from your truck, as well as serving as an ideal work desk of sorts if you need a place to set your laptop, clipboards, etc. Why do we mention all of this? Because there is nothing of the sort on the Santa Cruz, though it does have a few neat tricks, such as a slidable tonneau cover that goes over the bed.

A yellow 2022 Ford Maverick is shown parked on a city street.

The Winner?

For our money, and yours, we recommend the Maverick because it seems to offer drivers a better experience that’s more tailored to what the common truck driver may be currently looking for. After all, trucks are and always have been one of Ford’s specialties, and it almost feels like a joyful and momentous occasion when we see the release of a brand new truck from a manufacturer such as Ford. A compact pickup isn’t supposed to be the biggest and baddest truck on the road – it’s supposed to be economical and affordable, and the Maverick is exactly that. From a standard hybrid powertrain to its lower price tag, the Maverick can appeal to many drivers, and for some, it may just be the perfect fit.