When pickup trucks started taking the market by storm after World War II, they gained a reputation for effective labor but austere interiors. No one bought a pickup truck because of the inside’s design and certainly not for spaciousness; they bought one because they needed to do towing or hauling for work. Flash forward to now, however, and the story has changed drastically, although not all consumers are aware of this evolution. Today, we will look at the 2023 Ford Maverick vs. the 2023 Hyundai Santa Cruz to see how their interiors compare and how they represent changing expectations of the pickup truck.
Pickup trucks are in as high demand as ever, mainly thanks to the increase in infrastructure projects post-pandemic, but the market also has a lot more for consumers to choose from. That means those plain pickup interiors are no longer acceptable. They need to be as comfortable and luxurious as a sedan’s interior to win over buyers who always feel like they have enough options to be picky. That is why the Maverick and the Santa Cruz are trying to win over the average driver, whether a single commuter or a family driver. The Maverick is Ford’s newest truck model, its smallest pickup available, while the Santa Cruz attempts to combine SUV and pickup truck elements. Let’s examine them both.
What Do We Mean When We Say Interior Comfort?
When buyers look for a nice interior, they take it for granted that customer service experts understand what they mean. However, the ideal interior can be challenging to define. For our purposes, we are looking at interiors that feature comfortable seating, easy-to-use technology, excellent infotainment, and an easy-to-use safety system. None of these would be features that came to mind for pickups in the 20th century, but the nature of trucks has changed: they can still do an incredible job for laborers, but they can also serve as a family vehicle or a ride for a single commuter. The pickup has evolved into a more versatile vehicle, and its improved interiors have been a large part of that evolution.
Cramped seating is out. Pickups are expected to have spacious seating so drivers and passengers can enjoy a ride no matter how long the trip ends. Older pickups had tight seats because they needed to make room for the truck’s bed. That is no longer necessary. The structure of vehicles has evolved past the point that such sacrifices are required.
The Ford Maverick seats five people. Its second row is full size as opposed to the more truncated second rows that used to be in pickups (and that was when they had second rows at all). The fact that it is full size means anyone can fit comfortably in the back, no matter their body type. This is made possible thanks to intuitive interior design. The Maverick has storage under the rear seats (up to 2.6 cubic feet), so that seating can be cozy without losing space. If you want luxury in your truck, upgrade to the LARIAT trim and enjoy premium vinyl-trimmed Desert Brown seats. You do not need a luxury sedan to feel like you’re being pampered.
The Maverick also has an available moonroof, a feature folks expect in a limo more than they would in a truck. A moonroof can improve the ride for everyone, letting natural light into the car during a long drive. Flashback a couple of decades ago, and the idea that there would be a capable pickup truck that came with a moonroof would be laughed at. Once more, we are in a new age.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz also has seating for five, and its passenger volume measures the same as the Mavericks. Manufacturers have realized that the fact that a model falls into the pickup category is no excuse for poor seating. The Santa Cruz also has a little storage under the rear seats, but it is harder to access, and the seats are a bit more rigid than the Maverick’s, although it also has an available sunroof.
So, while the Maverick is a better buy, the seating design in both models speaks to how much of a seismic shift in expectations there has been for pickup trucks.
Solid infotainment makes sense for a truck that can do labor when you think about it. A lengthy trip is likely on the menu if you plan to put a lot in the pickup bed. In that case, you want solid infotainment to help keep you occupied. Plus, with the seating available now, a pickup can efficiently act as a family vehicle. You want to know that you can keep your kids entertained when you bring them to school and events or on an extended vacation (which can be made more accessible since your pickup bed will let you bring a lot along).
With its infotainment system, the Maverick continues to blast through expectations. It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to hook your device right to your truck, letting the cabin fill with your favorite tunes or podcast. In terms of sound, you can upgrade your Maverick to have a B&O Sound System, which has eight speakers and 660 watts of sonic power. That will give you crystal clear sound so it feels like your favorite musician provides you with a personal concert.
The Maverick also has a SYNC 3 system that will take your truck’s tech to the next level. You can use your voice to activate anything from navigation instructions to what playlist you want on to calls you want to make.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz also features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and the Hyundai Digital Key, available on certain trims. This digital key lets you lock and unlock your vehicle from your phone. While the Santa Cruz does not feature tech relatively as high-end as the Maverick’s SYNC 3, even the tech in the Santa Cruz looks wildly better than the image most consumers have about a pickup truck.
We have spoken a bit about how some consumers still have an image of an old, battered pickup in mind when they hear about pickup trucks. There is a specific nostalgic factor to this that we cannot deny exists. Who wouldn’t want to take a classic Ford pickup out for a spin? It is almost a form of time travel, sending us back to the ‘60s and ‘70s.
However, the issue with this image is that it undersells just how much a pickup truck can be a family vehicle. We have taken a look at comfort and tech, but even then, we can understand if a buyer is hesitant to purchase a truck for their family. After all, aren’t they primarily for labor? Are they really family-friendly?
The answer is absolutely. In addition to what we have discussed, trucks today come with stellar safety systems that keep you and yours secure. The leaps in safety technology still take even us by surprise sometimes.
When driving in your Maverick, you will have many safety features at your fingertips thanks to your touchscreen and digital display. From lane-keeping assist to cross-traffic alert, the Maverick has a slew of programs that will alert you to any potential obstacles in your vicinity. Some systems, like lane-keeping assist, can even step in for you if you allow it to. We are particularly interested in the Adaptive Cruise Control that the Maverick offers. This cruise control can sense when vehicles ahead are slowing down or speeding up so that you can keep pace with the traffic on the road. This makes hands-free driving even less stressful than usual.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz hosts similar safety features, which are increasingly becoming standard on pickup trucks. Both the Santa Cruz and the Maverick are about equally safe, although the Ford Co-Pilot360 system might be something drivers find a little more intuitive to use.
Pickup trucks have never been a better option for drivers looking for convenience, fun, and safety. If your primary concern for a new vehicle purchase is that it will provide an enjoyable ride, you cannot go wrong with a pickup truck like the 2023 Ford Maverick. We are in a new era of pickups, and you want to take advantage of it before others catch on.