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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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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.