Ask Nathan: Upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz Updates, Civic Si vs. Focus ST and Nissan Frontier Worries?

In this week’s post

  • Where’s the Hyundai Santa Cruz updates?
  • Used Civic Si vs very used Focus ST?
  • Issues, and non-issues with the new Nissan Frontier?

The first question comes from a viewer who wants to know where the Hyundai Santa Cruz updates are.

Santa Cruz assembly shot via: Hyundai

Q: (Via: RE: When the hell are we gonna hear about Hyundai Santa Cruz updates!?!?!?!?

Nathan, do you have any Hyundai Santa Cruz updates that tell me more than the disappointing XRT badge barge? I’m not saying that the updates have to be like the million things Ford is doing with the Maverick. But you know they seriously need to do something to keep sales going!

I wanna buy a Santa Cruz but not yet. That’s because I want something more fuel efficient. The only reason I won’t get a Maverick hybrid is because they only have front drive and it can’t tow much. I need to tow over 2,500 pounds worth of toys and I wanna save money.

Can you tell me how hauling in it is? How does it work as a truck? This is my second email and I apricate that you answered my last one. Keep up the good work!

– Steph

A: Hi Steph!

Thanks for the emails. First, let’s talk about what we do know about what few Hyundai Santa Cruz updates there are: it pretty much stays the same in 2024. Yep, that XRT model is all we know is new for 2024, and it’s mostly a new trim loaded with accessories. Under the skin, Hyundai has quietly made some adjustments.

Via: Hyundai..

  • Bi-LED projector headlamps now standard for all 24MY Santa Cruz models
  • Dual-zone automatic temperature control & auto defogger are now included from SEL trim level and up
  • 10.25” Navigation is now included from the SEL with Activity Package and up
  • Black H-Tex™ seating surfaces now included with NIGHT trim
  • Steering wheel haptic feedback added to all trims for the following functions:
    • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA)
    • Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA)

That’s about it.

Now, here’s what we’re hearing about possible changes to the Hyundai Santa Cruz…

  • New front and rear design: Rumor has it that the new nose will either resemble the upcoming Hyundai Santa Fe’s nose, or the current Ioniq5’s nose. I’m pretty sure Hyundai will do something radical to rekindle interest.
  • Yes, they are looking at adding a hybrid, and more: If you read the tealeaves correctly, Hyundai is in the process of making a hybrid version of most of their gas vehicles. That’s in process, right now. In addition, they are continuing with their PHEVs and they already announced some sort of electric pickup.
This is an old concept from Hyundai called the OLV. I added this because someone thinks Hyundai will build a new tailgate/mid-gate setup.
  • An “insider” claims even bigger changes: This individual (who sends me tips from time-to-time) mentioned Hyundai’s desire to redesign the Santa Cruz’s bed. This completely unsubstantiated rumor states that a folding mid-gate, or extending tail may be in the works. Please note: Hyundai toyed with the idea of an extending rear cargo area back with the concept Santa Cruz years ago.
  • Finally, going electric: As I mentioned, Hyundai/Kia did announce an upcoming EV pickup. Most experts speculate that it will be an all-new design on a dedicated BEV platform. The E-GMP platform allows for a wheelbase that’s extremely close to the Santa Cruz’s 118.3″ wheelbase. Maybe some of the elements of the Santa Cruz will be found in the upcoming EV pickup?

Hauling in the current Santa Cruz

This topic just came up among other automotive journalists. I can say comfortably, it hauls quite a lot for a small thing.

If you are willing to use tie-downs, and cargo straps (or lots of bungee), you might be surprised at what you can move in the Cruz. I absolutely love the mechanically-actuated, load-leveling rear suspension. The system simply remembers the proper load height of the rear suspension, and adjusts back to it, as you drive. It simply works.

In over 13-months of ownership, I’ve hauled quite a bit, and the suspension deals with loads brilliantly. If you overdo it, the brakes will not be happy, and the non-turbo seems to struggle with loads over 600-lbs on the highway. Keep in mind: that’s partially based on the high elevation. ‘

Otherwise, it’s a fantastic utility vehicle that hauls well.

– N

The next question comes from a viewer who is considering a used Ford Focus ST, or a used Honda Civic Si.

Q: (Twitter@NathanAdlen) Quick question for you!

I’m looking at a used (Ford) Focus ST or a (Honda) Civic Si. Which one would you get?

– WillImNot

2013 Ford Focus ST 0-60 MPH Drive & Review

A: Hi there.

There’s very little information I have to work on here. I mean, you didn’t give me the years of either vehicle. There are a lot of differences between the two, but an adequate comparison would be between the Civic Type R and the Focus ST, not the Civic Si. I’m guessing that the prices might be close, which might indicate an older (maybe 2013) Focus ST, aThe nd a 2019-ish Civic Si, which are fairly close in price.

The Civic Type-R is in a different league, financially.

Look, I’m stupid enough to gravitate towards the fun car, forgetting how mediocre its reliability. That’s because the Ford Focus ST is tediously needy, and unreliable. It’s also all kinds of fun to drive and completely out-performs the Civic Si. It’s a street thug, compared to the lively (yet restrained) Civic Si.

On the pother hand, other than some complaints about oil consumption, the Honda Civic Si is the smarter choice. I would probably stick with the Civic Si, it’s much more drivable daily, and it can still shred corners. In addition, I think there’s a better chance that the Civic Si will be less modified/abused than the Focus ST.

With so little data, this is my best guess. I’d stick with the Si.

– N

The last question and comment come from two different points of view regarding the new Nissan Frontier.

Q: (Via: Last week’s “Ask Nathan“) I have a newer Nissan Frontier. Nothing but trouble.

Every time I turn around, there
is another issue. Transmission issues, electrical issues, design issues, I could go
on and on and on………..

  • Joe Lo

Q: (Via: Twitter/X@NathanAdlen) In almost two years my Frontier has been bullet proof!

I did take it in for a recall and an update. It’s up to 20 thousand miles and I drive it hard. I also tow my troller with no problem and it’s about 4 thousand pounds. Saw your puppy video and it made me very happy.

Here are my plans with my Nissan Frontier SV 4×4 crew cab with the long bed.

  1. I want a lift. I want a good three inch lift with maybe 33 inch tires. I like the Goodyears that the Zr2 uses so I might get those.
  2. I need a better sound system. The stereo is terrible so I need to spend a lot like $3,000 to upgrade my head unit and speakers. I want it to look factory.
  3. Maybe a bed cover that is easy to store.

After all of that I might get a wrap. I have no intention of selling it or getting a replacement for ten years. Just like what I did with my 2009 Nissan Frontier!

Thank you Nathan and Andre! You guys are the best truck guys because you always think of people who don’t have a lot of money. Real people like me!

  • Jules

A: Thank you both for your insight!

Let me tell you what’s odd for me: I thought the Nissan Frontier would be a hot seller this year. Yes, I have heard complaints before, like Joe’s statement. For the most part, people seem pretty happy with their Frontiers. That’s especially true from the messages I get from the owners of the previous model. Other than gas mileage, they seem pretty happy.

Check this out: the Nissan Frontier dropped a whopping 23.7-percent in sales, over last year. Yep, 2023 saw 58,135 sold. In 2022, Nissan sold 76,183. Man, that’s a huge loss. Some of it could have to do with the parts shortage, but not all of it. Maybe some of the quality issues, mixed with the lack of options annoyed customers?

You can read about those midsize truck numbers (here).

I will say, now that we know the pricing of the new Toyota Tacoma, the Frontier is still a bargain. It will be interesting to see how it does, now that things are returning to normal (production-wise).

  • N