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2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: SE vs SEL, SEL Premium and Limited

Compare the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Trims - SE vs SEL, SEL Premium and Limited. What is the difference between them?

The 2022 Santa Cruz is a brand new design. It flaunts an interesting look, with a front that resembles an SUV and a back end that's similar to the cargo bed of a pickup truck. The Sant Cruz is easy to maneuver and not too big, so it should appeal to those who like having vehicles that are versatile but not cumbersome. Hyundai calls the Santa Cruz a Sport Adventure Vehicle, but most people would consider it to be a compact pickup truck. It comes with a comfortable cabin and plenty of convenient features, along with a competitive starting price.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz presents itself in four different trims. Driver-assist technologies and smartphone compatible touchscreens are the hallmark of Hyundai vehicles, and they are built into every trim level. Hyundai prioritizes catering premium quality to its consumers, and the Santa Cruz is a fresh take on what practicality is all about.


Compare the SE vs SEL Trims. What is the difference?

These trims run on the same type of engine, which is a 2.5-liter version with four cylinders. It's able to generate 191 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. This is a decent amount of capability that should please most drivers. Hyundai has given the SE and SEL front-wheel drive, though all-wheel drive is optional on both trims. It may be a good idea to get all-wheel drive if anyone predicts having to occasionally deal with snowy, icy, muddy, or otherwise slippery conditions.

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of having an SEL trim is its proximity key entry system - where the truck can sense the presence of the key fob. When it's within a few feet of the truck, the driver just needs to touch the door handle to unlock it. Plus, there's push-button start. With the SE, one would need to physically press the unlock button on the key fob to enter the cabin, and the key would have to be inserted into the ignition to start the engine.

On the exterior of the SEL, there are heated side mirrors with LED turn-signal indicators. The SE just has traditional side mirrors without any of those extra features. The SEL can be upgraded with LEDs in the truck bed, a power sunroof, a tonneau cover, and a utility track rail and cleat system for the bed. Unfortunately, these are not available on the SE.

However, the SE does have some nice features. Integrated rear bumper steps help people more easily access their cargo, and D rings and storage compartments built into the sidewalls of the bed are very convenient. Plus, there's an under-bed storage compartment that can be locked for security purposes. The lighting on the Santa Cruz is refined, as there are LED Daytime Running Lights and LED taillights. The headlights and high beams are both automatic.

These two trims have cloth seats that are resistant to stains and odors. The SE has a manually adjustable driver's seat while the SEL has a power-operated one. It also has heated front seats and power-adjustable lumbar support in the driver's seat.

Technology plays an important role in the automotive industry, and Hyundai has integrated an eight-inch touchscreen into both of these trims. They have Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, and two front USB outlets. With the SEL, there's the addition of SiriusXM Satellite Radio. The SEL also has Bluelink Connected Car Service, allowing users to perform various tasks and look up certain kinds of vehicle information using their smartphones. For example, they can remotely start their engines and lock or unlock their doors using an app on their phones.

Unlike the SE, the SEL now offers wireless charging as an option, as well as a large 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. If this optional digital cluster isn't added, the gauges remain standard and the important vehicle information would still be displayed. However, the large digital screen definitely showcases data in a more easy-to-read format.

Hyundai has given the SE many advanced safety components. It has a rear occupant alert, driver attention warning, and electronic stability control. Importantly, the SE also has forward collision-avoidance assist with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, and lane following assist. With these programs, the chances of veering out of position or hitting something in front of the Santa Cruz are greatly reduced.

The safety package gets some extra development in the SEL trim. They include blind-spot collision-avoidance assist, rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist, and safe exit warning. Safe exit warning uses monitors to indicate when it's safe to open the doors on the driver's side. Besides warning systems, the SEL also has mitigation systems that can prevent accidents that may occur when it's too difficult to see vehicles in certain spots.

Compare the SEL vs SEL Premium. What is the difference?

The price jump moving from the SEL to the SEL Premium is quite considerable. However, considering the major change to a 2.5-liter turbo engine, this price jump is justifiable. Although this turbo engine has the same displacement as the standard engine, the turbocharger brings a lot more power with it. Subsequently, the SEL Premium yields 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The SEL Premium is significantly quicker to accelerate, plus a lot more thrilling to drive. The paddle shifters on the steering wheel are fun to use too.

Hyundai has matched the turbo engine with an eight-speed wet dual clutch transmission. This type of transmission is commonly found in performance-oriented vehicles. Note that all-wheel drive is standard at this level and that towing capacity is increased from 3,500 pounds to 5,000 pounds.

All of these increases in capability come with a financial cost but don't really impact the fuel efficiency of the Santa Cruz. With the standard powertrain, combined fuel economy is estimated to be 23 miles per gallon. With the turbo engine, that number dips ever so slightly to 22 miles per gallon.

The SEL Premium looks a bit more upscale than the SEL does because it has LED headlights instead of halogen ones. It has LED bed lights so that people can have an easier time seeing what they're doing in the back. Notably, it comes standard with a power moonroof. Many people love having a moonroof because it can let in more light and bring in fresh air. It's definitely a cool feature. It is optional on the SEL in case anyone really wants to have one.

Roof side rails become standard with the SEL Premium trim. They can be practical in case cargo needs to be secured to the top of the vehicle. The SEL Premium has an integrated tonneau cover that can provide security and privacy, a 115-volt power outlet in the sidewall of the bed, and a rail and cleat system. That system was previously mentioned as being available with the SEL.

The 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster that was optional on the SEL becomes standard on the SEL Premium, and so does wireless charging. Further, the SEL Premium has an automatic climate control system with two zones and an automatic defogger.

A leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel add a touch of luxury to the SEL Premium. LED interior lights provide extra illumination as night falls and contribute to the ambience of the cabin. The rearview mirror in this trim has an auto-dimming function, as well as HomeLink technology, which serves as a garage door opener.

Finally, we cannot forget to mention that the SEL Premium works with the Hyundai Digital Key program. This means that your phone can be set up to act like a key fob. This comes handy in case you  have a friend borrowing the car for the afternoon or if you are planning on taking your vehicle out for a big adventure. For example, you don't have to take the keys with you when you're skiing, biking, or hiking; just make sure you have your phone with you and you are good to go. Your phone is enough to unlock the doors and fire up the engine.

Compare the SEL Premium vs Limited Trim Levels. What is the difference?

The Limited trim embraces the same turbocharged engine that the SEL Premium used. It also has many of the same features that are found in the SEL Premium, along with a few additional elements that make this trim stand out. First of all, instead of having 18-inch wheels like all of the other trims in the Santa Cruz lineup, it rides on a set of gigantic 20-inch wheels.

Enhanced with dark chrome trimming on the bumpers, grille, and tailgate handle, the Limited makes an unmistakable impression on the road. Besides, the regular LED Daytime Running Lights are swapped out for premium LED Daytime Running Lights. Although these may appear like subtle tweaks to some, they are undoubtedly appreciated by drivers who value an ultramodern, designer exterior.

The rain-sensor wipers on the Limited are futuristic. A driver doesn't even have to turn them on or off; they can do that themselves. This frees the driver to concentrate on the other aspects of driving, and it is especially helpful when the rain is intermittent.

Leather seating is exclusively available on the Limited trim of the Santa Cruz. This trim is also the only one to have heated and ventilated front seats. The steering wheel is another place where a heating element has been incorporated.

Hyundai has included more technology with the Limited. It comes standard with a pair of USB outlets in the back row in addition to the two in the front row. It has a premium audio system with Bose speakers as well as a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation. This can be so useful when driving in unfamiliar territory or when trying to avoid getting stuck in traffic on a regular commute.

Last but not least, the Limited has the best safety package among all the trims. It's navigation-based smart cruise control adjusts the vehicle's speed depending on whether there are upcoming turns, or if the vehicle you are following is slowing down. Similarly, the Limited's Highway Driving Assist program is a semi-autonomous driving system that can make required adjustments to both steering and speed. It also utilizes a surround view monitor and blind-spot view monitor. It's pretty amazing how it manages to offer so much assistance in an unobtrusive and gentle manner as you drive.


Final Thoughts

It's going to be hard to pass up the chance to have a turbo engine because of the extra power that it brings with it. For this reason, it's recommended that potential buyers look into the SEL Premium and the Limited trims.

Understandably, budget plays a big role in this decision-making process. While the Limited has amazing components, such as navigation, leather seats, and a surround-view monitor, it may be just a bit too pricey for many buyers.

The SEL Premium strikes a nice balance. It's more reasonably priced than the Limited is, and it still offers so much, like a moonroof, Hyundai Digital Key, digital instrument cluster, tonneau cover, and wireless charging.