The Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup is Absolutely Going to Happen, CEO Confirms

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
the hyundai santa cruz pickup is absolutely going to happen ceo confirms

If you collected all of the ink spilled over the Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup’s chances of entering production, it would overflow the unibody model’s abbreviated bed.

Well, Hyundai just put a year and a half’s worth of rumors to rest, confirming to Motor Trend that the car-based pickup is definitely a go, and will appear in 2018 as a 2019 model.

“We have made the decision,” said Dave Zuchowski, president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. “We have not made the announcement.”

That announcement will come at either the Los Angeles or Detroit auto show.

The youthful Santa Cruz concept first appeared at the North American International Auto Show in 2015, generating plenty of buzz — even from those with no personal memories of the long-departed Chevrolet El Camino. Blending a crossover and a pickup, the concept seemed destined to fill an untapped niche market.

Even this past week, speculation was rampant about the model’s looming approval.

According to Motor Trend, the Tucson-based pickup underwent a design review earlier this month. The automaker is close to finalizing a design, and anticipates that it can sell 50,000 units a year. Outsider estimates put the figure at 70,000.

Hyundai engineers are busy developing a diesel engine for European Genesis models, and that mill could find its way into the production Santa Cruz, giving the pickup respectable grunt.

In the interview, Zuchowski laments his company’s car-heavy market share, calling its model lineup an “adverse mix” of vehicles. Adding the Santa Cruz would diversify the company’s offerings, potentially luring new buyers to the brand with a unique product.

The timing seems right for the Santa Cruz, given recent sales growth in the midsize pickup market.

[Images: Hyundai]

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8 of 158 comments
  • Zipper69 Zipper69 on Aug 22, 2016

    Is the long mooted Jeep pickup actually gonna happen? If so, would this Hyundai chase the same buyers?

  • Daniel J Daniel J on Aug 22, 2016

    I would be all over this. We have a CX-5 which will haul some stuff, but on occasion we need more vertical cargo space. Small loads of dirt and mulch would be great too. We purchased a tree at a nursery and couldn't get it into the CX-5 and had to borrow a friends truck. Not if we had this.

    • See 5 previous
    • Quentin Quentin on Aug 23, 2016

      @Quentin I'm not even certain what you are going on about now. The guy had a problem, I offered up a suggestion. It didn't need your litany of "what if" nonsense that you always bring to the table when trying to convince everyone (and yourself) that some modern VW sportruck would be a huge commercial success because, at the core, that's what you meant when you responded. For Daniel, I'd argue that any time you've had something in the back of the CX5 that needed to be locked inside, you've benefited from a covered cargo area. If you want a secure cargo area in a truck, you are looking at a rigid bed cover that, just like a trailer, presents its own problems. No vehicle is perfect for every situation.

  • Mike Beranek If they really want your car, they'll just drag it up onto a rollback and drive away. In about 15 seconds.
  • Analoggrotto Critical Tassos Meltdown in: .... 3.....2.....1
  • Dukeisduke I'm not convinced that the "software update" installed by Hyundai/Kia dealers on later cars without an immobilizer (like my middle daughter's 2014 Kia Forte sedan) actually does anything. I'm able to lock the car with the remote, which is supposed to disable the ignition, then reach in through an open driver's window, insert the key, and start the car. That shouldn't happen.I opened a case with Kia corporate two weeks ago and haven't gotten a response.
  • Wjtinfwb I see all three backing away quietly and slowly. Between political winds and corporate green mandates plus the previously mentioned mandates, automakers will have to thread a needle between public demand and acceptance, and the extremely loud voices of the minority screaming for fossil fuels to be abandoned by 2030, which of course won't happen. Ford jumped in early with the Lightning and Mach-E, but since has tempered their enthusiasm and probably spent less money as the Lightning shares a lot with the gas F-150. GM however has built some bespoke platforms out on the edge that will end up being a gigantic waste of money. The Hummer EV is a joke and the new Silverado EV while impressive is both expensive and less practical than an electric version of the current gas Silverado could have been. The Cadillac EVs are the dumbest move yet, especially their upcoming 400k model. Ford seems to have a leg up on GM in Hybrid which would seem like a better interim measure, I'd be surprised if a Hybrid Explorer isn't in the works and could see a Gas/Electric Expedition and Super Duty being successful as well. US energy policy and gas prices into the next administration will play a significant role in consumer demand, if prices stay high and supplies artificially constrained, demand will increase for more efficient cars and trucks. If we go back to a self-sufficient energy policy and prices drop, demand for Hybrid's and EVs will moderate even more.
  • Wjtinfwb Poor cousin to the Blazer & Bronco that dominated this segment. The 1st Gen Ramcharger was a much better and better looking truck, with the 440 available and without the AMC Pacer style real windows. The Bronco and Blazer felt and looked much more modern and cohesive than the Mopar's, and that's not saying very much. Probably attractive to the Mopar faithful but for the rest of us... No thanks at any price.