Ike Gauntlet: I passed the Mavericks, Santa Cruz, and Ridgeline, but which one wins the toughest towing test in the world?

Can these new small pickups tow the Ike Gauntlet â„¢ – the world’s toughest towing test? We put a new Hyundai Santa Cruz 2022, a new Ford Maverick 2022, and a new Honda Ridgeline to this ultimate test with a 4,000 lb trailer. Let’s see how they do it!

Ike’s Gauntlet

This is the toughest tow test in the world, as it is an 8 mile climb on the country’s steepest interstate highway (I-70) to a maximum elevation of 11,158 feet above sea level. This is a 7% grade with a speed limit of 60 MPH.

Hyundai Santa Cruz

The all-new Santa Cruz AWD 2022 that we’re testing here features a turbocharged 2.5L I4 engine and an 8-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. This engine produces 281 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque. This compact pickup is equipped with a two-inch hitch receiver and aftermarket trailer brake controller. This gives the turbo Santa Cruz AWD a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lbs (other Santa Cruz models are rated at 3,500 lbs or less).

Ford maverick

The all-new 2022 Ford Maverick AWD you see here comes equipped with a turbocharged 2.0L I4 engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain is rated at 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. When properly equipped, this version of the Maverick is designed to tow up to 4000 lbs. The Maverick’s 4K towing package includes a built-in trailer brake controller, which is nice to see. The Maverick also has a specific Towing driving mode.

This is precisely the weight we are pulling this time around – 4,000 pounds. We have made our Iron Bull trailer lighter with a Citroën 2CV on top.

Honda ridgeline

We are using a new Ridgeline V6 AWD mid-size pickup as a benchmark for this comparison. The Ridgeline is indeed a bigger pickup than the other two, but its maximum towing capacity isn’t far off. The Ridgeline is designed to tow a maximum of 5,000 lbs.


While the Santa Cruz and Maverick climbed the Big Mountain in a benchmark 8 minutes, their braking performance downhill, suspension feel, and fuel economy uphill were different. The Santa Cruz has poorer downhill performance with 12 braking. The Maverick needed 9 brakes to complete the descent. The Santa Cruz had a more comfortable ride when loaded with this trailer.

In the end, these two compact pickups got about the same Ike Gauntlet â„¢ score and both were impressed with completing this very difficult challenge without any overheating issues or other serious issues.

Watch the video below for all the details. What do you think? How would you rate this very close competition?

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