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2025 Nissan Frontier Pro 4X vs. 2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz: Who Wins?

Today’s post is a quick exterior walk-around and discussion of some of the specs of two of the most underrated little pickups of 2025: the Nissan Frontier Pro 4X and the Hyundai Santa Cruz.

Feature2025 Nissan Frontier Pro 4X2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T
EngineV6, 310 hp, 280 lb-ft torqueTurbo 4-cylinder, 280 hp, 311 lb-ft torque
Transmission9-speed automatic8-speed automatic
Drivetrain4WDAWD (H-track system)
Body TypeBody-on-frameUnibody
Ground ClearanceOver 9 inchesApproximately 8 inches
Towing Capacity6,000 lbs5,000 lbs
Payload CapacityOver 1,000 lbsApproximately 1,500 lbs
Fuel Economy (City)17 mpg17 mpg
Fuel Economy (Highway)22 mpg22 mpg
Crash Test Rating4-star overall5-star overall
Safety FeaturesStandard safety featuresTop Safety Pick Plus
WarrantyStandard100,000 miles / 10 years
Interior FeaturesFunctional back seats in King CabLeather seats, heated seats (XRT trim)
Price Range$41,000 (after discounts)$35,000 – $40,000 (after discounts)
Bed LengthShort bed under 5 feetVaries, practical bed length
Turning Radius48 feet40 feet
Vehicle Length17-18 feet (depending on cab/bed)16 feet
Weight4,700 lbs4,200 lbs
Off-road CapabilityHigh (Pro 4X model)Moderate (with AWD system)
Market PositionTraditional, rugged midsize truckModern, versatile mini truck
2025 Nissan Frontier Pro 4X vs 2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz 2.5T Specs

Nissan Frontier (Pro 4X)

2025 Nissan Frontier (Pro 4X)
2025 Nissan Frontier (Pro 4X)

Specs and Features

Let’s dive into the 2025 Nissan Frontier Pro 4X, the most off-road capable model in the Frontier lineup. Competing against the likes of the Colorado Trail Boss and Tacoma TRD Offroad, the Frontier Pro 4X stands out for several reasons.

The 2025 Nissan Frontier Pro 4X boasts a powerful V6 engine, making 310 horsepower and over 280 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a modern 9-speed automatic transmission, a rarity in an era where most competitors have shifted to turbo 4-cylinder engines or hybrids. This setup ensures the Frontier maintains its old-school reliability and rugged charm, a stark contrast to some newer models facing reliability issues.

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Hyundai Santa Cruz (2.5T)

2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz
2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz

Design and Features

Next up is the 2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz, a vehicle that’s redefining the concept of a pickup. Sure, it’s a mini truck or crossover with a truck bed, built on a unibody design rather than a body-on-frame like the Frontier.

The front end of the Santa Cruz mirrors the Hyundai Tucson, and it comes with Hyundai’s impressive 100,000-mile, 10-year powertrain warranty, setting a benchmark in the midsize truck category.

Performance and Affordability

The Santa Cruz ensures a comfortable ride, similar to the Tucson. The hybrid version, which I reviewed in depth, exceeded expectations. Affordability is a strong point here, with the turbo model offering 280 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque for under $40,000, sometimes closer to $35,000 or $36,000. Additionally, the H-track system is nearly as good as Subaru’s all-wheel drive, making this a competent vehicle in various conditions.

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Comparison and Conclusion

The Santa Cruz features a five-star crash test rating and is a top safety pick plus. In comparison, the Frontier has a four-star overall crash test rating. The Santa Cruz’s truck bed is just long enough for most activities without being cumbersome, making it about 16 feet long. Meanwhile, the Frontier ranges from 17 to 18 feet, depending on the cab and bed length. These compact dimensions make the Santa Cruz a versatile option.

Visual Appeal and Practicality

Nissan Frontier

Nissan Frontier Visual Appeal and Practicality
Nissan Frontier Visual Appeal and Practicality

Does the Nissan Frontier Pro 4X look better than the Santa Cruz? Many people think so. The Frontier’s aggressive design is a standout, though some may not prefer the front ventilation inserts. When this generation debuted two years ago, it was considered out-of-date, replacing a model that had been around since 2005. However, its old-school approach has become its saving grace, making it popular once again.

Hyundai Santa Cruz

Hyundai Santa Cruz Visual Appeal and Practicality
Hyundai Santa Cruz Visual Appeal and Practicality

The Santa Cruz, especially the loaded XRT trim, offers numerous features like leather seats, heated seats, and roof rails with crossbars. Priced around $40,000, it’s a practical choice with sturdy design elements and competitive pricing. The sliding bed deck and various tie-down spots enhance its utility. Weighing about 4,200 pounds, it can tow 5,000 pounds with the right configuration.

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Market Dynamics and Customer Preference

In 2022, Toyota still had the 3.5L V6 Tacoma. Spending a few thousand more on a Tacoma might get you a slightly better and more reliable vehicle. But now that the Tacoma has moved to turbo engines and is built in Mexico, the Frontier’s simplicity and old-school charm have made it a popular choice.

Practicality and Driving Experience

Nissan Frontier

Owning a body-on-frame midsize truck with a V6 like the Frontier comes with trade-offs. It has a large turning radius of 48 feet, similar to a full-size F-150, compared to the Santa Cruz’s 40 feet. The Frontier can feel bulky, requiring more three-point turns.

Value Proposition and Pricing

The Frontier offers variety, with options for short and long beds. The Pro 4X comes with a short bed under 5 feet, and the King Cab has functional back seats. While the Frontier may list for about $44,000, discounts can bring it down to around $41,000, with potential for further negotiation. Despite its lower sales compared to the Tacoma, it’s a solid option.

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Capability and Efficiency

Nissan Frontier

The Frontier boasts over 9 inches of ground clearance and weighs about 4,700 pounds, which is hefty for a midsize truck. Despite its weight, it can tow 6,000 pounds and has a payload capacity of over 1,000 pounds, rivaling full-size trucks from decades ago.

Hyundai Santa Cruz

The Santa Cruz is versatile and capable, offering around 17 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Some users have reported up to 25-26 mpg on highway commutes. For those seeking more technology and a better driving experience, the Santa Cruz is a compelling option.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, both the 2025 Nissan Frontier Pro 4X and the 2025 Hyundai Santa Cruz offer unique strengths and appeal to different market segments. The Frontier is for those who prefer a traditional, rugged truck, while the Santa Cruz is ideal for those seeking a more modern and versatile vehicle.

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Which one do you prefer? Let me know in the comments below!

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DAL Motors is the exclusive distributor for a range of international commercial and passenger vehicle brands in Sudan. The company was established in 1994 with its appointment as sole distributor for Mitsubishi Motors. The success of this initiative lead to DAL Motors being selected as the distributor for a range of further vehicle brands such as Mercedes-Benz, KIA Motors and Fuso. These partnerships have paved the way for DAL Motors to become the country’s leading automotive business.

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