Hyundai and Ford have decided that the truck market needs a shake-up. A real shake-up, not one of those shake-ups where they tell you they’re building the best, most awesome product, and it’s basically the same shit they’ve been doing for years.
No, this is real, and I’m here to tell you why it’s absolutely fucking genius. So get out your pencil and a notepad, because school is in session.
Trucks have slowly been taking over the United States for 30 years or more. They started out as useful vehicles that pulled and hauled, were used on farms, and occasionally someone might daily drive one. More and more in the late-’90s and early-’00s trucks were being purchased less often for the reasons of utility and more for them being large, “safe”, and more comfortable than ever to live with.
The early 2000s is really when I started to see this shift take place in North Carolina, where I grew up. Randomly, Fewer Tahoes and Suburbans were being used by soccer moms, and in their place were new Silverado Z71s and F-150s. I was raised in the country where I saw lots of trucks all the time, but not for the reasons they’re being used everywhere these days. The trucks I saw had dirt, dents, dings, scratches, beat-up panels, and so forth. Rarely were they perfect. When I was a child I had really bad pneumonia and I needed to go to the hospital. This just so happened to coincide with the worst ice storm in North Carolina’s history. The ambulance that pulled into my driveway to pick me up couldn’t get out of my driveway. Via the CB radio, the paramedic called out for help. Soon a Ford F-250 showed up and towed us to the main road so we could get me to the emergency room.
Trucks are also obscenely priced, even when used and beaten to hell and back. And especially with Covid-19 and the global chip and material shortages, good luck finding a new truck, or a good used one that won’t cost you a second mortgage.
Last week I wrote an Uncooked Truth about how you don’t need that truck or SUV you claim you have to have. However, there is a caveat. I do not think more than 90% of the population needs the size vehicles they own. But, I do not see a problem if they have a normal-sized vehicle that can do more than normal things. Do you see where I’m going here? Okay, allow me to spell it out.
Honda created the Ridgeline in 2005 as a 2006 model. The Ridgeline is a truck car thing. It rides like a car, gets more car-like gas mileage, but has the usability of a truck. Kind of. It has four doors, all-wheel drive, and a 63.6-inch long and 50″ wide bed. That’s a 5’3″ long bed, which really isn’t bad. The Ford F-150’s standard bed length is 5’5″, or 66 inches long, and 50.6 inches wide. The Honda’s bed size is also very competitive in the mid-size truck market. The Ford Ranger’s base bed size is 61 inches long and 44.8 inches wide; the Chevy Colorado’s is 61.2″ long and 44.4″ wide, and the Toyota Tacoma has a 60″ long bed that is 40.75″ wide; The Nissan Frontier, like the Toyota, has a 60″ bed length, and just like the Chevy, has 44.4″ of width.
The measurements of bed width are between what’s called the bell housing, or the wheel wells. The Ridgeline has no real wheel wells inside the bed. Where the Ridgeline falls behind is that it only has one bed size. With the Ranger, Colorado, Tacoma, and Frontier they feature optional increased bed lengths of 72″, 74.4″, 73.2″, and 73.2″ (the Nissan and Toyota have the same bed length in both standard and long bed forms), respectively. With that said, it’s why I tell people to buy a bed extender. Take your 5-foot bed to up to 7 feet rather easily.
This article isn’t about the Ridgeline, though. Even though I fancy the Honda truck. No, I’m here to tell you why you actually want a smaller truck.
“Smaller than a Ranger?”
“Smaller than a Colorado?”
“Smaller than a….”
If you ask me “smaller than” this or that truck I’m going to kick you in the shin. And yes.
New for 2022, Ford will bring out the Maverick. Once a smaller “sporty” coupe from the ’70s that achieved good fuel mileage, now a pickup truck. Also unique for 2022, Hyundai are going all-in on their first-ever pickup truck that’s of a similar size to the Maverick, called the Santa Cruz.
Let’s start with the Hyundai, since they’re the newest automaker to jump into the truck world. The base Santa Cruz will feature a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that is estimated to make at least 190-horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. It could possibly make more once the truck is finalized. That motor will be paired with a hydraulic 8-speed automatic. The largest engine will be a turbocharged 2.5-liter making at least 275-horsies and 310 lb-ft of torque, maybe more. That engine will be mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic with paddles. No word on fuel economy yet, but I’m sure it’ll be in the low-to-mid 20s for city driving and high 20s to low 30s on the highway.
Both versions of the Santa Cruz will be available with all-wheel drive, and somewhere between 48 and 52 inches of bed length. The overall length will be about 10-15ish inches less than a mid-size truck.
The Ford Maverick non-coupe will feature either a hybrid 4-cylinder with 162-horsepower at 5,600 rpm, and 155 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. Ford are aiming at 40 mpg city for that, but no word on highway mileage yet. The Hybrid version will be front-wheel drive only, or you can go with optional all-wheel drive and an EcoBoost 2-liter turbo-4 making 250 hp at 5,500 rpm and 277 lb-ft of torque at just 3,000 rpm. The Hybrid Maverick will have a CVT while the EcoBoost models will have a conventional 8-speed auto. You can get the Hybrid or the EcoBoost with any of the trims, XL, XLT, or Lariat. Pricing will start just under $20,000 before destination and handling.
Both trucks will be able to tow and haul stuff, too. While it won’t be a boat or a large camper, you’ll be able to bring 3,500 lbs worth of trailer with you on the base 2.5-liter Santa Cruz, and 5,000 lbs on the turbo 2.5 model. The baby Ford will tow 1,500 lbs, or 4,000 lbs with the optional 4K tow package that is only available on a trim with the EcoBoost engine.
Obviously, the Hyundai and Ford baby trucks will have the latest and greatest safety features and offerings available. And below you can read the press releases for both vehicles in full.
Let’s get real for a second. Of the people reading this: how many of you use the full capacity of a truck, if you own one? How many times have really, genuinely, needed a truck? But when is the last time you wish you had something with an open bed to go pick up a refrigerator, washer and dryer, bicycle, plants, or piece of furniture for your place? How many times have you been tired of renting a damn U-Haul to go from one apartment to the next every 12-13 months? Aren’t you tired of borrowing someone’s truck to move a mattress, or paying for delivery services of things you know you and a friend or significant other could handle?
Most people who are reading this will never, ever need or actually utilize 10,000 lbs of towing capacity, or even the size of a mid or full-size pickup truck. But there are a lot of people who want to sit up a little higher without having parking in the city or at a grocery store take multiple tries. The Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick are basically the length of a Ford Fusion or Hyundai Sonata. Both trucks will be able to be had for less than or just over $30,000. Think about it: you can now buy a brand new truck, not a used one with 100,000 miles, but a brand-spanking-new truck for the same as what you’d pay for a beat-to-shit Chevy Silverado, or a well-equipped mid-size sedan. And it’ll be rare that you’ll ever need to rent, borrow, or steal a truck ever again. Sure, you may still need to rent a U-Haul for larger items when moving from apartment to apartment, or from an apartment to a house. But you won’t need to worry about packing as much into a rented box truck, or you can spend less money and get a smaller one, or rent one for less time. All of which will save you time and money. Or just become friends with a gaggle of people who have Mavericks and Santa Cruzes and have them all help you move. Create a small pickup truck gang for usability utility, if you’d like.
I still stand by my belief that most people do not, in any way shape or form, actually need a real truck. But a small car-based pickup, like the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz, well that’s a different story. These trucks are genius.
Let me leave you with this. The Toyota Corolla Hybrid will get you 53 mpg city and 52 mpg highway, respectively. It will also cost you about $23,600, before tax, tags, and stupid documentation fees (aka, doc fees). A Ford Maverick Hybrid will most likely have similar interior space and dimensions of said Corolla, and get roughly 40 mpg city and about 37 mpg combined (that’s what Ford are aiming for anyway). It will cost you about the same amount of money as the Corolla, and be overall larger, better able to carry your life, pets, or even small children. I’m sure the Santa Cruz will come in at similar money with its base 2.5-liter motor. The Corolla Hybrid is great, but so, too, would a small Hybrid truck be.