Hyundai Santa Cruz Only Needed “Minimal” Off-Road Mods For Rebelle Rally

Hyundai is heading back to the Rebelle Rally. It will compete in this year’s competition with a modified Santa Cruz pickup, which features off-road upgrades and a custom livery.

Hyundai only had to make “minimal” modifications to prepare the Santa Cruz for the rally. The truck’s larger, 17-inch Falken Wildpeak A/T3W off-road tires “enhance ground clearance” along with the Truxxx lift kit, which raises the front and rear by 1.5 and 1.0 inches, respectively.

Gallery: Hyundai Santa Cruz Rebelle Rally

The truck has a skid plate and a custom front bumper, which supports the Rally Innovations front recovery mount with auxiliary lights. On top, the Santa Cruz features cross bars, a Hyundai Genuine Accessory, and a roof-rack-mounted light bar. It wears a wrap penned by Hyundai Design North America’s Matt Marble, senior graphic designer, and Kellen Gustine, junior exterior designer.

The toughened-up Santa Cruz will compete in the X-Cross class against other rugged entrants, like the Kia Telluride X-Pro that debuted a few weeks ago. Kia gave the SUV a 1.5-inch suspension lift, BFGoodrich T/A K02 tires, 18-inch wheels, and tow hooks. It has nearly 10 inches of ground clearance.

Hyundai emphasized the Santa Cruz’s ruggedness earlier this year by introducing the new XRT trim for the 2024 model year. It wears new fender flares, side steps, bed rails, and trim garnishes.

The pickup has two powertrain choices, the most potent being the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It produces 281 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. It has an all-wheel-drive system and the brand’s eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. Hyundai also sells the truck with a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter mill making 191 hp.

Hyundai competed in last year’s Rebelle Rally with a modded Santa Cruz. Veteran auto journalists Jill Ciminillo and Kristin Shaw will pilot the pickup for Hyundai again. The pair competed together last year in the model.

This year’s rally, the all-women, off-road navigational challenge, is the eighth event since its inception in 2016. It kicks off on October 13, with the competitors navigating 1,500 miles of California desert with only a compass and paper maps. The rules require competing vehicles to disconnect their antennas to eliminate GP as the technology and any internet-enabled devices are forbidden.

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