The Hyundai Santa Cruz ute has received a tougher look for 2025, but the lack of right-hand drive production means it’s still off the table for Australia.

    Unlike the upcoming Tasman from sister brand Kia, the Santa Cruz features unibody and not body-on-frame construction.

    That makes it more of a “lifestyle” ute, and serves as a rival for the Ford Maverick – another ute not exported to Australia.

    Derived from the Tucson, the updates to the Santa Cruz’s interior are identical to those applied to the mid-sized crossover.

    There’s a new curved display incorporating the (optional) 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, with the latter gaining wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity plus over-the-air updates.

    The climate control now has switches and buttons, and there’s also a new steering wheel and air vents.

    New equipment includes a finger print scanner, USB-C ports, and Digital Key 2 Touch functionality, the latter of which allows you to unlock the car with your smartphone.

    Externally, however, Hyundai has put more distance between the Tucson and Santa Cruz.

    There’s a much more squared-off grille than on the SUV, more reminiscent of the Palisade, though it still includes blocky daytime running lights like on the Tucson.

    After its introduction for 2024, the more rugged XRT trim has received some enhancements.

    It now rides on 245/60 R18 all-terrain tyres and features front tow hooks, while boasting an increased approach angle.

    It continues to feature various exterior styling tweaks, including a unique grille.

    There are no mechanical changes for the 2025 Santa Cruz.

    The standard engine is a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with 142kW of power and 245Nm of torque, mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

    Optional is a turbo 2.5-litre four with 210kW and 422Nm, mated with an eight-speed wet-type dual-clutch auto.

    Both engines come with Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system, while the turbo engine gains a new tow mode. It can tow up to 2267kg, up from the 1588kg towing capacity of the base engine.

    Even though the related Tucson offers hybrid power, not to mention the rival Ford Maverick, there’s no such option for the Santa Cruz.

    The Santa Cruz was introduced for 2022, and is built exclusively in Hyundai’s Montgomery, Alabama factory.

    According to Good Car Bad Car, last year Hyundai sold 36,675 examples in the US against 94,058 Mavericks.

    MORE: Everything Hyundai
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    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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