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Hyundai Santa Cruz se vs. sel

1. Specifications

Se and SEL are two trims that possess the Hyundai Santa Cruz model. The first thing that most customers will compare in two different trims is the specifications, including engine performance, fuel efficiency, and dimensions. This article will compare the specifications of Hyundai Santa Cruz SE and Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL. First, the comparison will start with the engine performance in the two different trims. The engine used in SE and SEL trims is absolutely the same. Both trims use the GDI 4 Cylinder engine with a power output that can reach up to 277 at 6,400 rpm. The torque is also the same, with a value that can reach up to 262 at 5,000 rpm. This means the engine specification of Hyundai Santa Cruz is very good because a car that is categorized as an MPV or Multi-Purpose Vehicle doesn't really need high-speed performance. The next comparison will be done on the fuel efficiency of the two different trims. Just like what we can expect from an MPV car, the fuel efficiency of Santa Cruz is very good for this class. The fuel efficiency of SE and SEL trims is not much different. With just a $100 difference, SEL has a better fuel efficiency rate than SE. Even though the difference in fuel efficiency rate is only small, this may mean that SEL has a better fuel efficiency rate because when it is stated that SEL has better fuel efficiency, it means it has better features too. The last specification that can be compared is the dimension of the Santa Cruz SE and the Santa Cruz SEL. The dimensions of these two trims are the same. The width, length, and height of these two trims have the same value. Usually, this means that the space and comfort level that can be achieved from these two trims are also the same. It can't be possible for the dimensions to be the same but the interior to be different. [1][2]

1.1. Engine Performance

The SE and the SEL trims both have a 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve engine with D-CVVT. These engines are both aimed at satisfying the consumers' needs. The only difference between these two engines is that the SE has an aluminum block and head whereas the SEL has only an aluminum block. Horsepower comes in at 181 @ 6000 RPM and a respectable torque level with 175 lb-ft @ 4000 RPM. These horsepower and torque are very close to the top of the class among the competitors. Another engine that is aimed at being fuel efficient and having a large amount of power compared to size. This is shown through the 20 MPG city/27 highway statistics, showing that it has a strong amount of power but aimed at conserving fuel. The SEL also comes in another engine option, being the 2.0L GDI 4-cylinder engine with 8-speed automatic transmission. This engine provides fairly similar power to the first engine option, but has a much improved fuel economy. This comes with an increase in MPG with 23 city/31 highway. Again, this engine is a hybrid between power and fuel efficiency, aimed at satisfying the fuel consumption demands of the current market. With a standard AWD system, this engine has it set at 23 city/30 highway MPG for a better performing AWD system in its class. Both these engines show how Hyundai has recognized the shift in the market towards fuel economy and efficiency, while still providing a respectable amount of power. These engine options may start blurring the line between regular crossovers and the new segment of crossover trucks.

1.2. Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency is something that many prospective pickup owners factor into their decision, and with the rising costs of fuel, it can be a deal breaker. The base model Santa Cruz has been given an EPA estimated 21 MPG city and 26 MPG highway. While this puts it behind the F-150, Ranger, and the forthcoming electric trucks, the full-sized trucks are significantly heavier and more powerful, and the electric trucks are significantly more expensive. The Santa Cruz is one of the lighter and less powerful trucks in the segment and is also one of the more affordable models, making it a viable option for cost-conscious consumers in the right situation. The F-150 comes in at a similar efficiency to the Santa Cruz but with more power and interior space, and the Ranger slightly exceeds the Santa Cruz at 22 city, 27 highway. However, the Santa Cruz is bested in efficiency across the board by the Honda Ridgeline. Although still not fully released, the forthcoming Ford Maverick is expected to exceed the Santa Cruz in efficiency with its base 2.5-liter hybrid engine, which may lead to some potential Santa Cruz buyers leaning towards the lower trims of the Maverick instead. In the Santa Cruz lineup, potential buyers should be aware that going with AWD reduces fuel efficiency slightly to 19 city, 27 highway. With 25 combined MPG, the Santa Cruz makes a very commendable attempt at combining efficiency with the versatility and utility of a pickup truck.

1.3. Dimensions

Dimensions for the 2022 Santa Cruz are fairly consistent across both trim levels. They are likely to be typical of compact pickup trucks even as the market shifts to slightly larger models. SE and SEL measure 195.7 inches long with a 118.3-inch wheelbase. That's only a few inches longer than a Honda CR-V or Hyundai's own Tucson compact SUV. The Santa Cruz is 66.7 inches tall at the roof, which is a bit higher than the average compact SUV. A ground clearance of 8.6 inches makes the Santa Cruz an appealing off-road vehicle compared to typical compact SUVs with 7 or 7.5 inches. The four-inch ground clearance increase is also indicative of the market shift from compact crossovers to compact pickup trucks, which traditionally have needed more ground clearance to function as actual trucks. At 75 inches wide, the Santa Cruz is somewhat narrower than compact SUVs of similar length due to its unibody construction. This should allow for easier parking and better maneuverability, although the difference isn't substantial. Step-in heights and cargo breadths of competitive compact SUVs are likely only a few inches smaller than those of the Santa Cruz, despite their larger interior volumes and capabilities. The main difference will be the Santa Cruz's available AWD system and roughly an inch higher standing height at the roof. These dimensions and capabilities as a truck will largely define the segment and what makes it different from a typical compact or midsize SUV.

2. Interior Features

Both the Santa Cruz SE and SEL offer style, features, and groundbreaking design to help you stand out in a crowd. Built with form and function at its core and with three new colors to choose from. Choose to stand out and make a statement with the available 20" alloy wheels. Shimmy into those tight spots with ease thanks to LED Side Repeaters that make maneuvering effortless and safe. If you want to take it to the next level, the Santa Cruz SEL offers an even greater level of style, luxury, and technology. You'll fit right in because of the Santa Cruz's comfort and feel the level of support of the driver and front passenger seats. Meanwhile, you can fill the cabin with natural sunlight or fresh air with a push of a button thanks to the available sliding or tilt-and-open panoramic sunroof. Whatever the season, you'll further enjoy a touch of luxury with features like available heated and ventilated front seats. And by adding the available Leather and Premium package you can enjoy premium relaxation of the second row passengers with ventilated rear seats and the added convenience of the class exclusive, driver's integrated memory system. Step outside the lines of pickup tradition with the open bed of the Santa Cruz. By now it's clear, this is no ordinary truck, but the perfect one for vastly different lifestyles.

2.1. Comfort and Convenience

The Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL is the more feature-rich variant. Beyond just being a FWD alternative, the SEL provides an extra $2,500 of premium and optional features to the $25,000 limited edition SE. The price difference between these two choices is estimated to be $2,000. A well-equipped Santa Cruz SEL could likely breach the $30,000 mark. The SEL comes in many more colors to choose from. High-end colors such as Shanghai Red and Rainforest will only be available to those who choose the SEL. Only the SEL comes with a power moonroof, so the truck for anyone who wants a moonroof will be at least an extra $2,500 more. Assume the SEL premium package will always be purchased as it provides the most sought-after optional features such as an 8-way power driver seat, leather seating surfaces, and heated front seats. Any long-time owner of a vehicle will agree that the Santa Cruz SEL is a reliable purchase for its cost. This is because over time, any vehicle with the extra preventative safety features, warranty, and sufficient options to prevent future buys will save a consumer money in the long run.

Both Santa Cruz variants are expected to have two available trim levels: the SE and the SEL. The Santa Cruz SE is labeled as "Sport" and, at first, seems more like the base truck. The hyundai.com website does not list an MSRP, but after reviewing the competition, the Santa Cruz 2.4 2WD was likely in the mid $22,000 to low $23,000 range. At the time, without knowing what the purchase price would be, Associated Content had chosen the Hyundai as the "Best In Show" at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show. As a result, the debuting model may have very basic standard features.

2.2. Technology and Connectivity

Overall, the SE and the SEL of the Santa Cruz are endowed with a copious amount of technology. They both include a wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are standard on both Santa Cruz models. Both the SE and SEL models are accessible in terms of push button start. The SEL does come with more remote features, including 3 years of Blue Link Connected Car System complimentary. This is noteworthy because the SE trim does not have Blue Link capabilities. The SEL also comes with a 3-year complimentary trial of Blue Link Remote starting. If not specified already, these are not remote starting from the key fob, but from the cellphone app that connects the owner to their car. This app can also help the owner find their car in a parking lot and will also send the owner a monthly vehicle health report. Along with the remote starting, the SEL comes with complimentary notifications that can alert the owner to such things as maintenance updates, recall info, and tire maintenance. The SEL comes with a complimentary 3-month trial of Blue Link Guidance, which helps the owner locate and learn about points of interest. Additionally, the SEL’s telematics doesn't even comprise the 8.0" display audio, rather an advanced 10.25" touchscreen with navigation and traffic flow, including HD Radio. Heavy audio listeners beware, this loaded SEL does not have complimentary HD Radio from Blue Link. Rather, it only comes with the RCA HD Radio from the 10.25" touchscreen. Generally, these added remote features will give the SEL owner more access to their vehicle outside of actually being in the vehicle. Not excluding music with the Blue Link Remote starting, the SEL only has 2 speakers on top of the standard 4 speakers, totaling 6 speakers. The SE has a standard 4-speaker audio system, so the SEL is only adding 2 speakers.

2.3. Cargo Space

One of the primary differentiating factors between the Santa Cruz SE and the SEL is the increased cargo space available in the latter. The Santa Cruz SE is fitted with a shorter rear bed, measuring at 48.8 inches compared to the SEL's 52.1 inches. This corresponds to an increase in cubic footage of around 5.5 within the bed itself. In practical terms, this means that the larger bed allows the transportation between the wheels of standard sized building materials (like 4x8 plywood, a staple of any construction site) while the lesser area on the SE would require said materials to be placed on top of the wheel wells. Step up to the SEL trim and the potential for cargo space becomes even greater in a different way with the optional tonneau cover accessory. By giving Santa Cruz owners a way to protect and cover their bed and whatever they happen to be toting, it effectively adds a truck bed as a viable option for safely securing luggage and valuables during travel. This would not be possible without the available extra space from opting for the SEL. In addition, the Santa Cruz is fitted with an underfloor bed storage as a standard feature. This nifty little setup allows for the placement of groceries, tools, or anything else where you may require secure storage. On the greasy handed construction workers end, this could certainly mean a secure location for the weeks screw supply. We won't ask how they accumulated so many screws. In the end, the argument over whether or not size really matters is for the most part irrelevant. The Santa Cruz is a well-rounded vehicle in either of its available trims. However, for those who are especially keen on using their new car as an extension of storage for all matter of tools and equipment, the added space and secure storage options may make the SEL a desirable upgrade.

2.4. Seating Capacity

As with the bed and cab, the seating capacity of the Hyundai Santa Cruz SE and SEL trims is one and the same. Each model offers ample seating for five occupants, with versatility in the rear cabin to accommodate both passengers and inanimate cargo. The rear seats have a reclining 60/40 folding functionality to allow easy passenger side entry to the rear or transporting longer, flatter cargo to rest on top of the folded seat. Available from SEL and standard on the AWD versions is the premium knit headliner that gives a softer touch for occipital passengers. Upgrade to the SEL AWD model for rear passenger climate ducts and USB charging capability to make your occupants feel more at home. Leg room is 41.6" in the front and 40.8" in the rear, which falls about mid-pack when compared to other compact and midsize trucks on the market. Headroom is where the Santa Cruz shines, offering a best-in-class 41.1" front and 39.7" rear for even your tallest friends and family. Both the Santa Cruz and Ridgeline beat every midsize truck with their generous head and leg room, so if you and your passengers tend to be taller individuals, the Korean duo might provide a more comfortable fit.

3. Exterior Design

For lighting elements, both models have used LED rear combination lamps which is efficient and environmentally-friendly for their vehicles. The difference is in the headlamps, the SE model uses Auto on/off halogen headlamp with a Daytime Running Lights, but the SEL model goes further with offering an upgrade by using the premium LED headlamp and he option to upgrade to adaptive LED headlamps with the same Daytime Running Lights. This also shows result on the front cornering lamps where the SE model doesn't offer this feature and the SEL model uses LED with the option to upgrade to LED & HIR(Dual). From this observation, the Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL has more appealing and impressive exterior design compared to the Hyundai Santa Cruz SE. This can be an important factor for the customer to consider whether they want to add more payment for an even better vehicle appearance and style.

For the body features, Hyundai Santa Cruz SE uses Corp Gray front and rear bumpers whereas Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL uses Grey for its front and Body-colored for its rear bumpers. Goldmine Yellow if the SE model color you choose, the body color side mirrors will show the difference with the SEL model which uses Body-color. Both models are using 18 alloy wheels, but the tire size has a difference, the SE model uses 235/65R18 as for the SEL model uses 235/60R18. The differences are going towards the wheel size, where the SE model uses machine finished with black accent whereas the SEL model uses Hyper silver. As for the rear view, the dual lying have subtle differences where the SE model uses SMR type which is just a simple heat with no turn signal whereas the SEL model uses SMR type w/CC, Heat & Turn Signal to a sophisticated look.

In the battle of Hyundai Santa Cruz SE vs. SEL, the exterior design is a well-known area to be discussed. The two models of Hyundai Santa Cruz are similar but have a contrast in details on the exterior design which can affect from the body features up to the smaller details such as the lighting. This article will show you what are the differences in details of both models, you can say this article as a Hyundai Santa Cruz SE vs. SEL in exterior design edition.

3.1. Styling and Body Features

The most easily identifiable difference between the Santa Cruz SE and the higher trim levels is the more robust aesthetics found with the SEL and Limited models. While all Santa Cruz trims offer the same front bodywork, the Limited and SEL trims offer a more ornamented look with a larger, more aggressive grille. Also found on the SEL and Limited trims are body color side moldings on the doors and door handles to give a more uniform appearance. Around back, the higher trims include a connected LED strip taillight setup, as opposed to the standard bulbs found on the SE. Both model lineups offer different wheel options, with the SE offering 18-inch alloy wheels, and the SEL and Limited models offering 20-inch alloys. Apart from size, the wheel designs are unique to each model. Another key differentiator is the bed type. The SE comes standard with a composite bed, while the SEL offers an upgraded composite finish or an optional bed liner, both of which are still available on the Limited. If you are considering an all-wheel-drive model, the SEL and Limited are your only options, as the SE is only available in front-wheel drivetrain. An additional two features found only with the Limited are a panoramic sunroof and a power tonneau cover for the bed. Pricing information was not released with this data. Overall, the increase in standard features and available options are primary selling points for the SEL or Limited.

3.2. Wheel Options

Wheel style and design can also affect the ride quality, noise, and handling characteristics of the vehicle. Although the Santa Cruz SE comes with an 18-inch wheel and the SEL with a 20-inch wheel, both wheel styles are paired with an all-season tire with the same 245/60R18 sizing. This means the ride quality and noise levels should be very similar on the two different wheel sizes due to the same tire size. The 20-inch wheel option on the SEL will generate a small amount more of road noise and may have a slightly harsher ride due to the tire sidewall not being as high as the 18-inch wheels. This is because smaller wheels generally create less impact harshness.

Dark gray wheel finishes are generally easier to maintain due to them not showing brake dust and road dirt as much as a lighter wheel finish. With this being said, the lighter machined finish wheel on the Santa Cruz SEL gives a premium finish and would be more appealing to those who aim for a more premium look on their vehicle.

The styles and colors available for the wheels on the Santa Cruz vary based on the trim level chosen. The Santa Cruz SE comes with an 18-inch alloy wheel in a dark gray finish. This compares to the Santa Cruz SEL which comes standard with an 18-inch alloy wheel in a machined finish. This can be seen in the two images below showcasing the wheel finishes on the different trim levels.

3.3. Exterior Lighting

The 2022 Santa Cruz is extremely well-equipped with full LED daytime and front light to provide a high level of power-efficient lighting. The LED headlights are self-adjusting, which changes the intensity and the projection pattern of the light to prevent blinding oncoming drivers and illuminate the road more clearly. The Santa Cruz SE model comes standard with automatic headlights, which are essential in terms of the driver not having to worry about forgetting to turn their headlights on and to prevent the headlights from being manually left in the off position during a time of poor visibility. This will also save the vehicle owner from receiving a ticket/fine for driving without headlights during times required by municipal law to activate vehicle lights.

Hyundai Santa Cruz SE

The lighting of a vehicle is a significant part in terms of an owner's safety. It is important that the vehicle has the correct lighting installed to provide both the driver and other road users with a flashlight and indication of the vehicle's braking and direction changes. During the day, the lighting of a car is less important and often overlooked, but during times of poor light levels or overnight, the visibility of a vehicle can be a major safety feature.

4. Safety and Driver Assistance

Standard safety highlights onboard the Honda Ridgeline incorporate a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, daytime running lights, a tire pressure checking framework, electronic stability control, and a suite of airbag protection (including double-stage front airbags, front side airbags, and full-length side curtain airbags). Senor models and higher feature a forward impact warning (FCW) framework which alerts the driver of a potential impact and a Lane Departure Warning (LDW) framework which alerts the driver if the vehicle starts to move out of a recognized lane without the turn signal on. Unfortunately, Hyundai has not upgraded or changed the security highlights on the Santa Cruz since its release in 2017. With the direct expansion of AEB and LDW, the Ridgeline has the edge in advanced safety features. At last, both the Ridgeline and Santa Cruz accompany 5-star crash ratings from the NHTSA, yet only the Ridgeline enjoys a Top Safety Pick designation from the IIHS. Honda has been somewhat aggressive with implementing their Honda Sensing suite of driver assistance innovations across most of their models, with the Ridgeline being the most recent vehicle to benefit from this advantageous lineup of tech. Honda Sensing is standard on all trims of the Ridgeline and includes an inattentive driver indicator, forward crash warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Keeping Assist, Road Departure Mitigation, and Adaptive Cruise Control. The suite of driver assistance includes found on the Santa Cruz doesn't make a big deal about a scratch into what Honda offers. Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and Driver Attention Warning are standard on all Santa Cruz trims. The SEL, in any case, enjoys additional features such as Blind-spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, and Safe Exit Assist. Considering Honda's put down at making Honda Sensing standard over the Ridgeline's lineup, it is plausible a greater amount of the driver assistance technologies available on the Santa Cruz may become standard as well on Hyundai models in the future. For now, it's the SEL Santa Cruz which makes the most ideal comparison to the Ridgeline with standard features.

4.1. Advanced Safety Features

One of the most significant differences between the Santa Cruz SE and SEL comes in the form of advanced safety features. The Santa Cruz SE comes standard with Hyundai SmartSense driver assistance features, one of the most comprehensive of any vehicle in its class. The only drawback to this is that the convenience package is required if you would like for these features to be included on an automatic transmission vehicle. The convenience package forces the inclusion of other features that some consumers may not want on a SE vehicle, such as 18" alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, and a sliding rear window. The third package on the SE is the Premium package, which adds a Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (adds pedestrian detection and more), and Lane Keeping assist. So in order to have the ability to use Cruise Control, you are required to spend $2,200 MSRP for the Driver Guidance package and convenience package, bringing the total MSRP to $29,275. The SEL model comes standard with all of the previously mentioned safety features. This includes the Hyundai SmartSense system, starting at a MSRP of $27,375. The SEL also has the ability to add a Premium package, which adds LED headlights/taillights, a Power Sunroof, and an 8-way power driver's seat, only for an additional $1,350 MSRP. So the most price-effective method in obtaining the most safety features on a Santa Cruz would be going for a SEL with the Premium package, totaling at a MSRP of $28,725. Overall, the main point here is that the Santa Cruz is one of the few vehicle models on the market that locks certain safety features behind more expensive and unnecessary features that the everyday consumer may not need. Loyal Hyundai customers may feel forced to switch over to a more expensive trim or just not acquire a Santa Cruz at all due to these restrictions. This is a backwards model compared to many other car manufacturers that are typically willing to include their safety features on any model, in an effort to maintain or improve safety ratings on their vehicles.

4.2. Driver Assistance Technologies

Automatic emergency braking is made available on the Santa Cruz, and the systems are very different. The SE uses a camera and radar setup to detect imminent forward collisions, and it can automatically apply the brakes if the driver takes no action. The system functions optimally, and the Santa Cruz SE scored superior and advanced-plus ratings in the front crash prevention testing. However, it scored only a marginal rating in the crashworthiness test due to potential for foot and ankle injuries in the small overlap front test. This is in contrast to the SEL's multi-collision braking, which can automatically apply the brakes after an initial collision in an effort to lessen the severity of secondary collisions. The SEL also has the potential for a more effective FCP system due to its more advanced forward vehicle and pedestrian detection setup, in which the camera and radar can now also detect cyclists and potentially prevent collisions with them as well.

4.3. Crash Test Ratings

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the nonprofit, independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) evaluate vehicles for crashworthiness in the United States. NHTSA assigns cars an overall rating out of 5 stars. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test, plus evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts. The Institute adds the top safety pick and top safety pick+ accolades to vehicles that perform well in those ratings specifically. Hyundai Santa Cruz has not had its crash safety ratings released by either agency yet, but being that Hyundai often receives high safety ratings, we expect them to not disappoint with the Santa Cruz. Given it's hard to compare the crash safety between trims, we can assume the safety ratings from one trim can be applied to the other trim. This will mean a lot for the Santa Cruz to consumers, as pickup trucks generally have not been the safest when compared to cars. It's important to stay safe while behind the wheel, and purchasing a vehicle with high safety ratings is the first step.


[1] L. Nicoletti, A. Romano, A. König, P. Köhler, and M. Heinrich, "An estimation of the lightweight potential of battery electric vehicles," Energies, 2021. [Online]. Available: mdpi.com. mdpi.com

[2] T. L. Glenn, E. Glenn, and L. Neurauter, "Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke: Evaluation of Preventative Technologies," National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence, 2021. vt.edu

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