Hyundai Santa Cruz Gets Off-Road Upgrade To Cope With Rebelle Rally

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The seventh Rebel Rebel will launch on October 6, sending women’s teams to the deserts of California and Nevada to compete in a series of off-road navigation challenges. Hyundai will be there, fielding a modified Santa Cruz pickup to handle extreme environments.

In this case, the upgrade is actually rather basic. The lift kit offers a bit more ground clearance, while the slip plate helps protect the undercarriage. A set of Falken off-road tires mount to the Gear’s wheels, and that’s about as far as the mechanics go. The bed rack carries a spare tire, recovery track, and shovel, and off-road lights are mounted to the roof and front bumper.

Under the skin, Santa Cruz remains. Hyundai didn’t mention a specific trim level, but given the circumstances, we’d consider it a Premium SEL. It’s the only trim where a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder is offered, producing 281 horsepower (210 kilowatts) and 311 pound-feet (422 Newton-meters) of torque. It’s also the only way to an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox and standard all-wheel drive. Stepping up to the Santa Cruz SEL, you can opt for AWD as an option, but the only engine option is the 2.5-liter mill that produces 191 hp.

Now in its seventh year, Rebelle Rally is a women-only challenge that doesn’t focus on immediate speed, but reaches checkpoints under demanding conditions. And it’s not just a case of plugging waypoints into GPS – the Rebelle Rally incorporates modern technology for old-school navigation challenges. That means maps, compasses, and specific times to reach various locations, spread over eight days and over 1,500 miles.

Veteran automotive journalists Jill Ciminillo and Kristin Shaw will drive Santa Cruz for this adventure. Nicknamed Brute Squad, the team truck has a livery that borrows inspiration from the California surf scene. The Brute Squad logo, designed by Jennifer Ciminillo, adorns the hood.

The 2022 Rebel Rally begins October 6. North Lake Tahoe was the starting point, with the rally ending at Imperial Sand Dunes in California.

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