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So I just test drove a Limited turbo Santa Cruz, and I loved it. I’m currently a Mustang owner, and looking to get something more practical. That said, I cannot afford to step up to the turbo in the Cruz line, but I think the Cruz is still a better option for me than the Maverick turbo, or Nissan Frontier. They’re more powerful, though. My question is, has the SE/SEL naturally aspirated 2.5 been enough for the people who have it? I know it can tow up to 3500 pounds, but is it able to do that without becoming a snail?
 

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2022 SEL Sage Gray (non turbo)
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I have an SEL non-turbo. After driving 70s muscle cars, 2 Camaros, and a 2015 Rocket (Corvette) I discovered one thing. The SC is already a snail w/o hauling anything! But as you said, ”looking to get something more practical.” But then again, I don’t plan on hauling anything. It might be too “practical” for your needs.

Gusto!
 

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2022 Sage Limited
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I test drove an SEL with the NA motor. It wasn't fun by any means, but the power on flat ground was decent enough to keep up with traffic.


I'm happy I got the limited, if that says anything.

The SEL premium can be found in the 37K range if you don't want to get the limited.
 

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if you possibly can do it, get a turbo SC.
It not only pulls my horse trailer with less effort than my Frontier (to be fair, that was 11 years old so I don't know what they're like now), but the turbo SC has a LOT of pep in its step. My brother who keeps a car to play with at Limerock Park was quite impressed when I let him drive the Beastie (I won't make the mistake of going with him again ... white knuckle time!)
 

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'22 SC Limited Hampton Gray
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I find the even the 2.5T is a little "lazy" from the hit; couldn't imagine what the NA is like. But then again, we are not dealing with 400+ hp & tq here either....

That said: the SC Ltd is faster 0 to 60 and 1/4 mile than my old Dakota R/T was; and that was considered a muscle truck when introduced.

At the end of the day, the T is perfectly suited for a daily driver.
 

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2022 Santa Cruz SE NA-FWD In Idaho
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I think if you look at it as a Home Owner go getter...and not a race car....Corvette...Mustang etc.., You will find the 2.5 NA has plenty of power for that...But if you want to cruise downtown on Saturday Night trying to impress people than you won't be happy with it.... "Get the right tool for the job" .... Besides who puts their foot in it everyday and in traffic?
Pulling a Small trailer should be fine....Your not going to win any races....but you will have the more reliable std auto over the WDCT
 

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I have the NA SEL, I knew I was not buying a race car, its not slow, it's not fast either its also not a snail and it is fun for me, it's more than enough to drive around town, merge onto the highway, keep up & overtake the 50 to 70+ feels great.

Depends on your expectations and budget, I would say if you can find a Limited at MSRP or if you can afford to buy one with "Market Adjustment" go for it, if not get an NA, know what your buying / expectations.

I'm super happy, love my SEL.
 

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2022 SEL Sage Gray (non turbo)
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I think if you look at it as a Home Owner go getter...and not a race car....Corvette...Mustang etc.., Pulling a Small trailer should be fine....Your not going to win “M”any races....but you will have the more reliable std auto over the WDCT
^^^^AGREE!!
Even with my Vette that had a 3.2 time to 60 I didn’t win every race. There is ALWAYS someone faster…..

But I do wish I could beat my wife’s Honda CRV!

Gusto!
 

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2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz SEL AWD
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First, only you know what your budget is and what you have to stay within. Based on your post you seem to have a good idea of that and have written off the turbo motor. Which is very responsible. A lot of people when responding to these posts always seem to throw that issue out the window even though you clearly stated it's outside of your budget. I understand too. I could not justify dropping another $7k over an SEL model to get the turbo engine for what is a second car for my family (I personally wasn't even willing to justify the extra $3k for the activity package items). I love power as much as the next guy and miss the days of my old SRT-4 and HEMI powered Ram, Chargers and a Challenger thrown in the mix too. But I knew going in that getting the n/a 2.5 in the SEL was going to be adequate and that's it. I don't expect it to win any kind of race whatsoever nor do I expect it to impress if hauling a heavy load. Towing at the 3,500lb max would really be pushing the engine's capability on anything but flat ground. I'm OK with that. I accept that. Those 2 things are key. You have to accept it for what it is. If you think you can do that, then you will be fine. If not, perhaps consider something else because you would likely wind up having regrets. Try to get a n/a 2.5 to test drive and get a better idea for how it drives. The 8spd transmission really helps to get the most out of the 191hp it has.

I considered a Ford Maverick for a little bit because for a similar price as the SEL you could get an XLT model with the 2.0 turbo, 4k tow package, FX4 offroad package, etc... At the end of the day for me the interior styling of the Santa Cruz won out (I'm partial to Hyundai and this is my 3rd Hyundai vehicle) and I like the exterior styling better as well. Not to mention who knows how long it would have taken to find a Maverick with what I wanted and then an even bigger challenge getting a dealer willing to sell at MSRP. The new Frontier has a 300hp V-6 does it not? But I think those get pricey pretty quickly. Granted I haven't looked into them that much so I'm not sure what the market is with those.

Best of luck in your decision. I say if you think you might be disappointed with the power of the n/a 2.5 perhaps it's better to pass so you don't regret your decision in the long run. But it is a terrific little vehicle. It drives and rides great, has a nice interior, is comfortable and extremely practical. Those things outweighed the modest power output of the n/a 2.5 for me.
 

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The choice really is totally personal. I'm a horsepower fanatic, and know the meaning of driving fast! Having a 500 hp mustang, I've been on all the New England tracks and have been taught to appreciate the power it can deliver. With speeds averaging 70-130 mph. This is currently my horsepower outlet when I want to go fast. When I purchased the Santa Cruz, speed or horsepower was not the deciding factor. The SE with the standard motor has been perfect for me. It is a bit slow getting up there, or when passing, but if you push the pedal down she will go. Cruising at 80 mph is no issue and I have pushed it over 100 with no complaints from the motor. It gets great mpg and can handle plenty of weight in the bed. The turbo with more horsepower did nothing for me, as it really isn't that much compared to my other vehicle. The Sc is a great little utilitarian vehicle. Turbo or not I don't think you'll be disappointed. Go with what you feel will be right for you. The standard motor has not been a let at all. Good luck with you decision.
 

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Base engines are almost always more than adequate for safe, courteous, and legal driving on public roads. The slowest car that Motor Trend tested last year was a 2021 Nissan Kicks at 10.1 seconds to 60 MPH, but even that's faster than some V8-powered automobiles from the 1980s.

A Santa Cruz with the base engine won't win many red light races and it's anything but exciting, but it's more than sufficient to keep up with any traffic and exceed all legal speed limits.
 

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2022 SEL Sage Gray (non turbo)
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@Big Country you said, ”I could not justify dropping another $7k over an SEL model to get the turbo engine for what is a second car for my family (I personally wasn't even willing to justify the extra $3k for the activity package items).”

Wow! I think I actually said those exact same words to my SC salesman. I knew I wanted the SEL over the SE. The only other must have was the AWD because of the Maine winters!

For me, retiring in a month, keeping the cost down was paramount to getting the SC.

Gusto!
 

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The dealer said to what do you need. I needed a mule that could park downtown.
Car Wheel Land vehicle Tire Automotive parking light

I’m a musician and videographer. This mule gets the job done. Just base sel. Gotta gotta platinum maxima.
feel no remorse or shame Getting in sc.
but my other car is an 1986 Capri 5.0 sole owner.
so I got my fun car. Too and a comfortable mule.
 

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2022 SEL Sage Gray (non turbo)
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The dealer said to what do you need. I needed a mule that could park downtown. View attachment 12443
I’m a musician and videographer. This mule gets the job done. Just base sel. Gotta gotta platinum maxima.
feel no remorse or shame Getting in sc.
but my other car is an 1986 Capri 5.0 sole owner.
so I got my fun car. Too and a comfortable mule.
AWESOME! )'ve never seen a SAGE GRAY mule?

WAIT.... WAIT... I just checked. I have a
SAGE GRAY mule in my garage! I do agree - that mule is some kind of comfortable! Most comfortable [email protected]@ I've ridden in a long time!

Gusto
 

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2022 SEL AWD * Non-Activity - SoCal
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I'm 62 year old proud 10+ month owner of a SEL AWD NA Non-Activity Package SC. The NA engine does me just fine. I have owned many cars over my lifetime, including fast sporty Porsches, large V8 4X4's, hopped up VW's that really shouldn't even be on the street they were so crazy fast and light. These days my goal was to pick a new vehicle that could do just about everything I wanted for the next 10 years. The Santa Cruz NA won out. IMHO it's a the Swiss Army Knife of vehicles.

Personally I didn't want a turbo (possible carbon buildup and hot) or a WDCT transmission (a bit unproven and not the feel I like or good for slow dirt road wheeling). I also didn't want a flat screen instrument cluster without a hood, so that knocked out the Activity Package and saved me money for modifications I can do on my own. I put that savings to use on bed crossbars supporting a storage basket with front bike wheel mounts in it, and a nice set of aftermarket wheels and AT tires.
Wheel Tire Sky Vehicle Automotive tail & brake light

Only you can know if you "require" that pedal mashing neck snapping feeling in your car. Me, I get that need filled with something that's not street legal. 😁
 

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2022 SE AWD - Phantom Black
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I've had the SE AWD since April 15. I've put 3800 miles on her. At no point have I felt like I was lacking in power. 191HP is PLENTY!

Her next big mission will be a road trip from Fort Worth to OKC then back down to Turner Falls at the end of August. I'm not the least bit worried about not having enough guts for the mountains and stuff on I-35 in Oklahoma.
 

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The N/A is fine. People will say 'It can keep up with traffic' as if that's an accomplishment it struggles to pull off. It does not struggle in normal daily driving; I rarely ever get more than 1/4 of the way into my throttle pedal. If anyone finds the N/A marginal for daily driving, I suggest they need to examine their driving habits and maybe chill out a bit.

I haven't towed anything with it so I can't comment on that, but I really like the 27mpg city / 31mpg highway I'm getting on regular-grade gas.

A factor for me was how much confidence do I actually have in Hyundai engineering? Do you trust a Hyundai direct-injection turbo engine and dual-clutch transmission? I'm not there yet personally. I think their designs are refreshing and they're really trying, but old stigmas die hard.

Oh also, the gauge cluster and center stack in the N/A model is just flat-out superior IMO. And wireless Android Auto. That's ones not even a matter of opinion, the N/A just has an objectively better Android Auto implementation.
 

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2022 SE AWD - Phantom Black
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Oh also, the gauge cluster and center stack in the N/A model is just flat-out superior IMO. And wireless Android Auto. That's ones not even a matter of opinion, the N/A just has an objectively better Android Auto implementation.
The real gauges, with a tiny screen, and the 20" wheels are my reasons for not even thinking about the Limited.

I also don't like leather. Did anyone ever tell you that it's hot in Texas? That sh!+ burns the cheeks!

I was really torn between an SE and SEL, without Activity Package. The SE had all of the stuff I wanted, and I saved myself about $4K.

I use my tiny screen as a speedo because of being just barely too tall to see 60-70mph through the steering wheel. I find that I'm more comfortable that way versus lowering the tilt on the wheel. #talldudeprobs
 

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I got a NA SEL AWD in late February after 13 years of driving soft top plastic windowed 2-door Jeep Wranglers. So I’d say NA is adequate but would have liked to compare back to back 1/8 and 1/4 mile runs with my 2018 JK Wrangler, which felt like a sports car and was plenty fast for what it was (especially after 8 years in a 2009 Wrangler).
My SC SEL seems like the power flattens out well before redline then just makes more noise but not more power if you rev it further. I try to have it shift before it gets to that point, while it is still in the fat part of the torque curve and it does fine. Floor it and it does an extra downshift and gets louder but not faster. Haven’t really fooled with the “sports mode” yet because of that but probably should…who knows what all is really going on in there? 😂
 

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Non turbo here w/activity package. Budget drives decisions. The one thing I would change if my budget would have allowed was to have the turbo. That said, does it do the job? Yes. I came from a Santa Fe with bigger engine so there is perception at play... What I knew vs. What I now have. No plans to tow so can't speak to that.
 
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