2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Powertrain and engine issues are the top complaints to the NHTSA from vehicle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Experiencing loss of power? Read our post on Hyundai Santa Cruz Loss of Power Issues.

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is the automaker’s first pickup truck, so there was plenty of excitement about the launch. Hyundai claims it is “up for anything,” but a growing number of owners say the opposite is true. This pickup suffers from many problems including defective exterior lighting and loss of power issue that may be due to a malfunctioning engine and failing powertrain.

Click on other model year to view more problems:  2023

Most Common Problems

The most common problems that owners of the first ever Hyundai Santa Cruz are experiencing are loss of motive power and an inability to accelerate. Descriptions of what happens vary, but more than 40 owners have posted their complaints on the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) website about related issues.

These complaints are posted in several different NHTSA categories including Engine, Powertrain, Vehicle Speed Control, and Unknown or Other. Some are posted in more than one category, presumably because owners are super-confused about what is going wrong.

To put these complaints into perspective, there have been 60 complaints in all between January 26 and October 25, 2022. Of these, 33 are listed under Powertrain and 15 under Engine. All of these relate to loss of power issues or the vehicle not responding to the accelerator. Some mention transmission failure, either because they can’t accelerate, or in terms of not being able to get the vehicle into gear and slowing down. This makes them very difficult, if not impossible, to separate.

There are 8 complaints filed under Vehicle Speed Control, 5 of which are also filed under Powertrain. Almost all relate to loss of power or a failure to accelerate problems. While there is a recall that relates to loss of drive power, it certainly doesn’t address all the issues consumers are complaining about.

There are 6 electrical system complaints, but of these, 2 relate to loss of power and stalling, and 2 are linked to an exterior lighting issue. There are another 3 complaints about exterior lighting, bringing the total to 5.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Complaint Summary

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Power Train
72
Engine
35
Unknown Or Other
27
Electrical System
14
Vehicle Speed Control
13
Exterior Lighting
9
Fuel/propulsion System
7
Forward Collision Avoidance: Adaptive Cruise Control
2
Forward Collision Avoidance: Automatic Emergency Braking
2
Forward Collision Avoidance: Warnings
2

Loss of Power Recall

The loss of power recall was published via the NHTSA on October 6, 2022. But owner notification letters will probably only be mailed December 5, 2022. It affects as many as 53,142 Hyundai vehicles, including the 2022 Santa Cruz, which are at risk of a “loss of drive power” that “increases the risk of a crash.”

The reason is that the vehicle’s “fail-safe” limited-mobility drive mode may be impaired, when prompted by a transmission oil pump malfunction. This can result in a complete loss of drive power.

Dealers have been instructed to inspect vehicles listed in the recall. If necessary, they must replace the transmission free of charge.

There is a service bulletin that addresses a misassembled check valve in the PCV system. Even so, there are zero manufacturer communications on file addressing loss of power.

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Problems with the Engine & Powertrain

As a pickup truck, the Santa Cruz needs to be potent and ready to go. However, the defective engine is causing a lot of trouble. At the same time, the powertrain encompasses the engine, but relates to the transmission too. Again, this system is dysfunctional.

Loss of Motive Power

The first loss of power experience reported to the NHTSA is from a Santa Cruz owner in Arizona. “I was passing on a 2 lane road with the gas pedal to the floor.  After I passed the vehicle, still in the passing lane I let off on the gas.  At that moment I had no power.  Had to brake and get back behind the vehicle I was passing. Thank God there was no on-coming traffic, or I would not be here telling you this story.”

A complaint from an owner in New York who had children in a vehicle he’d had for only 9 months ended with it being towed.

“My vehicle started slowing down quickly even with my foot on the gas. There was no warning, no lights on the dash lit up warning me there was anything wrong with the car. The rpm’s were going up but it was like there was no power to the car. I got off the highway onto a side road as fast as I could so I wouldn’t get hit. Then I pulled off to the side of the road. I put it in park and turned it off. I tried to turn it back on and it would start. After a second attempt it turned on but was really rough and felt like it would stall. I used the blue link to call for a tow truck.”

Feedback was a possible condition with the engine control system.

It’s a common theme but with different specifics – and lots of them. They range from:

  • While driving down the road the transmission went out of gear and I lost all power to the wheels, to
  • Sometimes, when it loses motive power = The “Stop Vehicle Immediately” message is displayed.

Inability to Accelerate

One of the first complaints about the 2022 Santa Cruz was from an owner in New Mexico who highlighted an inability to accelerate. While the RPM revved up, the pickup truck wouldn’t go any faster than 25 MPH. When this happened, the driver “exited the highway and veered to the side of the road.”

The complaint states that as he turned off and restarted the vehicle, he was able to drive the vehicle with no further issues. The dealer was notified of the failure. The manufacturer was notified of the failure and a case was opened.

Another complaint from an owner in Washington said the issue seemed to happen “at random, when accelerating to a stop.

“The vehicle feels as if it’s stuck in too high of a gear and accelerates very slowly despite high RPMs. The maximum speed I could achieve was 16 MPH after keeping the gas pedal nearly floored for 3-5 seconds, which normally would have had me to nearly 60 MPH. This happened to me in rush hour city traffic on a busy street with no shoulder. The only apparent solution is to shut off the vehicle and restart it, at which time the problem resolves itself and normal operation is resumed.”

In three sentences, an owner from Georgia says, “I accelerated at 10mph, the engine rpm’s increased to 3000rpm but the vehicle speed did not increase. After I stopped at a stop sign the car accelerated normally. I did not restart the car. The car was in NORMAL mode.”

And the complaints continue.

  • After making a stop, sometimes the Santa Cruz does not want to accelerate when pressing down on the accelerator pedal.
  • While accelerating away from a stop, it seems the vehicle revs and does not accelerate, almost like it is not in gear.

Exterior Lighting Problems

Seeing clearly shouldn’t be something anyone needs to fight for, yet the 2022 Santa Cruz doesn’t come equipped the way it should if owners are driving at night. For instance, owners report that the halogen headlights are too dim, and the LED headlights create shadows that lessen visibility. There is also a complaint that water collects in the lens cover.

One NHTSA complaint from Florida reads, “My Santa Cruz headlights have a dark shadow on the driver’s side while driving at night. It is extremely distracting and it can be a danger. The blind spot is very obvious. It can lead the driver to look at the shadow instead of the road as well as a portion of the headlight projection is not illuminating the road. The 2022 Tucson has the same front headlight configuration and while searching the Hyundai forum, the same problem exists for that vehicle. This is a constant problem while driving at night.”

A Virginia owner complained to the dealership about the halogen headlights being too dim. There was no solution unless they voided the warranty. The answer was, “that if I wanted LED headlights I should have “purchased a higher trim model”. I purchased the SEL with activity package trim and you would think an almost $40,000 vehicle would have better headlights than this.”

What if your 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a lemon? Your Lemon Law Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the professionals work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Hyundai pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. After all, every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
15 COMMENTS
  • cyn h

    The dealer states there are no codes found to explain the loss of power issue. This has happened 3x and there is only 1200 miles. Dealer has let the mechanic take the vehicle home over night? I did not approve of that.

  • Janet

    Currently, our 2022 Santa Cruz (which we purchased new from dealer in August 2021) is in the shop for 2nd time for a problem of dash alert messages coming on randomly, one right after the other. Dealer can’t duplicate problem. The 1st time in for this problem, the dealer couldn’t figure out the problem. Once I told them we had the windshield replaced, the dealer said that Safelite, who replaced windshield, failed to re-calibrate the sensors properly. The dealer said it needed to be re-calibrated, so we had it done. But it did not fix the problem. Also, the Auto Wiper had stopped working, so we are waiting for a new sensor to come in to replace the original, which dealer said was damaged when new windshield was installed.
    Previously, we had a problem with the car suddenly turning off power while driving at 65mph! Dealer could not duplicate. This happened twice before a recall came out about this problem, and it was repaired by dealer at no cost to us.

  • Liz

    I bought a 2023 Santa Cruse activity package with a turbo from day one the brakes felt odd which I reported to Larry Miller Hyundai dealer that never called me back. I took this back 3 times brakes started to fail and I almost had 2 accidents. The dealer here in town changed the master brake cylinder and that did not work either, so I am finally trying to get my money back. 🙁 This is ridiculous and I loved this little truck so disappointing.

  • Alexis D

    I bought my Santa Cruz in October of 2021 loved it. Has a wonderful ride. Very smooth. I put about 3000 miles a month on a vehicle. In January of 22 I began to have problems when I change gears from reverse to drive there was a hesitation like it didn’t want to shift or had to think about. I could push the accelerator to the floor and nothing. Then miraculously when I took my foot off the gas it would decide to go forward. Took into the dealer didn’t happen to them so never checked. Also a problem with roll back unless I use auto lock. This is a 2.5 turbo/AWD version. I also complained about the trunk leaking. I was told they just do that. However the leak is between the roll top and tailgate and I can’t put anything in the trunk close to the tailgate without water proofing it. I’m glad for this site to show the dealer that just because I’m a woman, I’m not crazy.

  • Leslie

    I have a 2022 Santa Cruz and I love it, bought 8/1/2022 it now has 12,000 miles but recently when backing out of my driveway, there’s a sound almost as if the truck bed is loose or something is loose in the rear, I can’t feel anything when driving, but I don’t like the noise. I will have it checked out on my next service.

  • ANDY G

    I have a 2022 Santa Cruz recently I tried to pass a slower vehicle when I put the pedal down the rpms hi 6000& the truck didn’t make any kind movement other than remaining at the same rate of speed,needless to say I was heartbroken

  • Kim F

    I have a 2022 Santa Cruz that I purchased in May 2022 in White Hall Arkansas. I am at the dealership now as I am typing. This is my 3rd visit for the dash board warnings and loss of power. I was here once before the recall, I brought my truck LAST week for the recall appointment and had the same issue 3 days after the appointment. I am not at all pleased with this experience; should have stayed with the Ridgeline. The issues are putting me in a very dangerous position as I drive 37 miles one way to work.

  • Shane S

    bought my 2022 Santa Cruz in July 22 (it is the non turbo). I have 20K miles on it and no problems yet. It seems like everyone I met that’s had problems with these are the turbo /AWD versions.

  • Mass T

    Bought a ’23 SEL last week and when accelerating the engine is making loud noises…when on road, the car seems like its falling apart like clinching…never ever buying a piece of junk Hyundai again

  • Anna

    I’m looking at a 2022 Santa Cruz today with 9000 miles for sale. I love the versatility of the vehicle, would suit my life perfectly. I want this vehicle, there’s a lot of positive reviews also.
    BUT MY QUESTION IS…If I buy this vehicle and have engine problems, would I be in a better position if I had bought new vs used or if I lease? Which situation (owning new, or used, or leasing) would give me the best advantage if the vehicle has these issues? Based on percentages, it appears less than 1% of Santa Cruz sold are having problems. Is that low, high or standard?
    Thank you for your reply. Trying to make good decisions.
    Anna

  • Jennifer R

    I love my 2022 Santa Cruz but continue to have issues. The engine has a ticking noise sometimes when you start it (like a lifter) dealer unable to locate. This has been going on since new. When you have the lane departure warning and auto steer set the car will sometimes take all the left and you have to pull it back to your lane. Major safety hazard. Dealer performed a transmission update at last service. Went from 27 MPG to 23 MPG. Seems to not shift correctly and if you are on an incline the vehicle will roll backwards until you apply the brake or give the transmission time to realize you have went from park to reverse. I have opened up cases with Hyundai.

  • Ana W

    2022 Santa Cruz SEL purchased new 6 months ago. Very slow to accelerate and a danger in heavy traffic. Engine control light has come on twice. Now there is a clunking noise, seemingly coming from the axles when the wheels turn. Will find out what the verdict is this week once it is serviced by the dealer but I wish I had just waited for another BMW.

  • Jim a

    Started the car ,put in reverse, foot on brake started to back up slowly steering wheel turned all the way to right. Felt like car stated to strain itself, Bam, the whole car shook, felt like some one rear ended me.
    Now I don’t want to drive it.

  • garypringle

    2020 turbo santa cruz stopped twice wouldnt move out of park or crank both times had to be towed to dealers and has beenin dealers since aug 8th i paid for 1st tow and ride home from out of town jan28 and paid ride home from aug 8th from out of town it is a leased truck want to turn in or manufacture pay lease august and sept it would cover my cost 686.96/m plus insurance i havent mentioned missed events and travel that was cancelled . Thanks for support gary

  • Philip M

    Which engine are you speaking of? There are two, the 2.5 naturally aspirated and the 2.5 Turbo

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