Hyundai's pickup truck: the Santa Cruz

Hyundai’s Pickup Truck: Waiting For The Santa Cruz

Did you know that Hyundai will soon join the pickup truck market with its interpretation of a utilitarian vehicle? The Korean manufacturer has been on the roll for the last few years, improving their game in all aspects. Besides formidable built quality and overall reliability, their cars now offer an attractive design and top levels of luxury. And this is a manufacturer that now has a powerful model in every segment, from compact city cars to big SUVs. Throughout the years, the only thing they didn’t have was a pickup truck, and that is about to change.

While Hyundai hasn’t revealed official characteristics of this upcoming vehicle, that doesn’t mean we can’t try to predict what their pickup truck will be like. In this article, we will look into the origins and back story of Hyundai’s future pickup truck and rumors about when it will go into production.

Hyundai's pickup truck: the Santa Cruz

Hyundai and Pickup Trucks

The story of Hyundai’s pickup truck dates back to the 2015 Detroit Auto-show, where they first showed off their Santa Cruz concept. This modern and sleek vehicle was a real eye-catcher and displayed a fresh approach to the pickup truck segment. The outer shape was unique and offered many interesting design solutions that set this truck apart from others. Things like a formidable grille and sleek headlights coupled with rounded body lines gave it an aggressive and futuristic appearance. Other features, such as rear suicide doors and a cargo area that is not as box-like as other pickup trucks out there, only added to its appeal.

The initial reactions were positive, as both visitors and car journalists liked the fresh approach and overall idea behind this truck. Thanks to a pleasing reception, Hyundai soon announced they would put the Santa Cruz into production. However, as this project never materialized, many started thinking Hyundai had dropped this idea.

Industry analysts argued that it takes time to develop a production vehicle from a concept. And, especially when the car manufacturer is entering a new market segment, they have to double-check everything. There’s simply no room for error here. There is also a possibility that they want to match the rollout date with other similar vehicles in their lineup. Doing so would prevent any of them from looking outdated and allow this new truck to use the current technical underpinnings. Having said that, it’s important to point out that the manufacturer hasn’t confirmed these rumors yet.

Is Hyundai coming out with a pickup truck any time soon?

As the official release date is somewhere during early 2021, we don’t know for sure at this time what this pickup will look like. Still, we can get a good idea by looking at the spy photos, leaked documents and official photos of the concept model. Hyundai’s pickup truck is apparently in the final road testing stages, and there are many photos of it on the road out there. Although the manufacturer uses a lot of camouflage wrapping, we can still make a good assumption about its design and overall look.

Design

Based on these photos, we can see that the outer shape is more squared than the concept vehicle. Also, the front end appears to be more vertical and higher, probably following the design outlines of the new Santa Fe. The cargo bay has a more squared shape too, which makes it more practical, although it loses some of its original appeal. But the biggest difference yet is with the doors, which now use a traditional setup instead of rear suicide doors. However, not only does this increase safety, but it will also allow better access to the rear seats. Suicide doors sure look cool but, to be honest, they aren’t really that convenient or safe at all.

Powertrain

As for the technical underpinnings, we believe that this pickup will share some of the Santa Fe’s specs. There are several reasons for this, and one of them is the fact they will both be produced in the same Alabama factory. This means that many components and parts will be the same or very similar. If the manufacturer chooses to keep the same configuration has its uses with other SUV models, a pair of four-cylinder engines should likely be offered — turbocharged and naturally-aspirated. They both offer decent performance figures while retaining good fuel-efficiency and maintenance simplicity. These units should be paired with either a 6-speed or 8-speed automatic transmission mated to a permanent all-wheel-drive system. Unfortunately, an electric version doesn’t seem to be planned.

Structure

However, the biggest difference between the Santa Cruz and its potential rivals is in the structure of the vehicle. Unlike a traditional pickup truck, which uses a body-on-frame setup, Hyundai chose to go the car-like unibody design route. This will make it lighter and will cause improved overall performance and increased fuel economy. Also, the ride quality will be considerably better, as it will use an independent rear suspension. Coil spring suspensions are a lot more comfortable than traditional leaf springs. Because of all this, purists will say that the Hyundai Santa Cruz is not a real pickup truck. And although they might be right, this doesn’t mean the Santa Cruz may not be a great utility vehicle.

Hyundai's pickup truck: the Santa Cruz

What is a crossover truck?

Based on various press releases and other statements from Hyundai, the manufacturer call the Santa Cruz a “crossover truck”. While not everyone agrees on the official definition of a “crossover truck”, most people describe it as a lifestyle vehicle. The main reason for this is that the Santa Cruz is not there to compete with traditional pickup trucks. It will not have the same load capabilities as some of the best pickup trucks in the market because of the lack of body-on-frame structure and a  sturdy rear suspension. This will also make it less rugged for off-road use.

Yet, Hyundai’s pickup truck aims at a whole new market segment of young, urban buyers. In general, they like the pickup truck idea. However, most people dislike other downsides that often come with a truck, like poor fuel-efficiency or bad handling, just to name a few. A crossover truck combines the ride and handling of an SUV with the open-bed versatility of a pickup truck. Let’s be honest — It’s basically an SUV with a chopped-off rear end. However, let’s not forget that the Hyundai Santa Cruz wouldn’t be the only of its kind. Honda also offers a similar truck called Ridgeline with pretty great results.

Last Words

Revealed back in 2015 as a concept vehicle, the Hyundai Santa Cruz received positive reactions from car journalists and potential buyers. After several years of further development, their attempt at the pickup market is now ready and nearing the production phase. Unlike other trucks in this segment, the Santa Cruz uses a car-like chassis and rear independent suspension. Although this goes at the expense of load carrying and off-road capabilities, it has some other advantages. This setup will allow for better handling and improved driving characteristics. Because of this, Hyundai Santa Cruz will aim at young, urban buyers that are looking for a lifestyle vehicle. If you are looking for a fuel-efficient crossover truck, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz. It might very well be the perfect truck for you!

About Bojan P

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My name is Bojan - I am a car enthusiast, specialised in the vehicle diagnosis, repair and maintenance with 10 years of practical, hands-on experience. In addition, I have a Masters degree in mechanical engineering.

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