By on May 5, 2020

Hyundai santa cruz concept

Interesting, segment-shunning product isn’t as commonplace as it once was, but some automakers are still willing to think outside the box. The two-box shape, that is. Hyundai’s one of them, as the automaker’s long-awaited Santa Cruz pickup is now greenlit and headed for production in Alabama in 2021.

More consumer-friendly than the concept vehicle released in 2015, the production Santa Cruz has already been spied undergoing testing while wearing frumpy camouflage. Now, it’s been seen in the buff.

Not unclothed in the traditional sense, however. The body shell turned up in a photo sent to Motor1, free of drivetrain and suspension components. Still, it’s our best look yet.

With its Elantra-esque side creases giving it away as a Hyundai (not Ford’s upcoming company, unibody pickup), the vehicle’s profile seems to match the earlier spy pics of a driveable product.

Yes, it’s unibody, as Hyundai brass surely wouldn’t have signed off on a niche model of dubious demand if they couldn’t reach deep into the parts bin. The platform underpinning the Santa Fe is expected to serve beneath the Santa Cruz, and one imagines the crossover will offer up its engines, as well.

With brawny wheel arch (and rocker) cladding a certainty, the Santa Cruz boasts a pleasing profile that distances itself from such oddly-proportioned creations as the defunct Subaru Baja. Sadly, the angle of the pic prevents us from seeing whether the model carries a bed-lengthening midgate. Too bad. We already knew a conventional four-door arrangement was in the cards, as sexy clamshell doors rarely carry over from concept to showroom.

As it gets its act together following the coronavirus shutdown, it will be interesting to see Hyundai move forward on this product. Priced correctly, it could prove a viable model with buyers who see no need in spending more to gain excess capacity they’ll likely never use.

[Image: Hyundai]

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19 Comments on “Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Dresses Down in Spy Shot...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    As the meme says: Not Bad

    The profile is more visually pleasing to me than the Ridgeline.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Oh boy, the regular cab Ranger or bust crowd is going to be pretty disappointed in this one.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    So, it is basically a Hyundai Ridgeline then, oh well :(

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      This is exactly what it should be. If they came out with a BOF V8 Hyundai Tundra, it still wouldn’t compete with the Big 3.

      A Ridgeline is a pretty nice truck for most uses, but people tell themselves they’ll be ridiculed if they get one, so they buy an F-150 instead.

      Hyundai is just trying to carve a small niche, which is why it took so long to decide if it was even worth it. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenn

        It was never about whether Hyundai should build “a BOF V8 Hyundai Tundra,” it was about whether they would build a truck similar in any way to their popular Santa Cruz Concept. And, as many expected, they decided to use the Santa Cruz name for a truck intended for a very different demographic.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Exactly this^^ This was going to fill a niche no one else was in and now Hyundai decided to take the safe route and build an open back CUV that no one asked for

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Was always going to take as long as it did as it is based on the LWB version of the platform underpinning the new Tucson (have the same chassis code).

        Both will be built at Hyundai’s ‘Bama plant.

        Around the same time, both Hyundai and Kia gave the greenlight to develop BoF competitors to the Hilux/Ranger.

        They’re not looking at the full-size pick-up market any time soon as it is so difficult to crack and would require NA production.

        The Hilux/Ranger competitors are geared for overseas markets, but may make their way here if either goes forward w/ NA production.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      It’s smaller and going to be priced lower than the Ridgeline.

      Based on the LWB version of the new platform underpinning the upcoming Tucson.

      Reportedly will have a hybrid variant as well.

      Both Hyundai and Kia are also working on a BoF Hilux/Ranger competitor.

  • avatar
    ajla

    A Ridgeline type truck can work fine (obviously it won’t sell in F150 numbers), but the styling and the stance have to be right.

    Hard to say what we’ll get from these pictures.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Right – important questions will determine the end result.

      What’s the ground clearance?

      What will be the available AWD systems?

      What is the price?

      How much can it tow?

      • 0 avatar
        B-BodyBuick84

        Ground Clearance- probably an inch or 2 higher than your average Santa Fe.

        AWD system- If we’re lucky, it’ll have a center diff lock with a 50/50 split. If we’re really, REALLY lucky, the tow package will equip it with an actual LSD rear end. If we’re not lucky, it’ll just be the standard AWD system that’s used in other Hyundai CUV’s

        Price- debatable; probably somewhere in the high 20’s to the low 40’s depending on trim.

        Towing capacity- I’m calling it at 4000 lbs. Your standard CUV/ minivan can tow 3500, save for the Chrysler Pacifica at 4000. The Ridgeline can tow 5000 lbs, but realistically, how many owners actually tow that much with their Ridgeline? Most I have seen have been smaller camper trailers and boats, all of which looked to be in the 1500-3500 lbs range. A 4000 lbs towing capacity should suit the mass majority of their potential buyer base just fine.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          “AWD system- If we’re lucky, it’ll have a center diff lock with a 50/50 split. If we’re really, REALLY lucky, the tow package will equip it with an actual LSD rear end. If we’re not lucky, it’ll just be the standard AWD system that’s used in other Hyundai CUV’s

          Dynamax AWD already has the capability to user select 50/50 lock and stays locked unless the steering angle is out of range and or a certain speed is met.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        My WAG right now is that it will be a truck version of the Jeep Cherokee.
        So an okay available off-road package and about 4500lbs towing capacity.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        LLkely the same AWD system on the Palisade w/ a center diff. lock.

        Since baeed on the Tucson, pricing likely will start in the low-mid $20k.

        Will be powered by the new 2.5T.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I’ve said all along that I was a buyer of the concept. I’ll have to take a look at it when it comes out, but… I suspect it’s going to be much larger than I would want. I might be able to live with the 4 full doors, but as stated, I’ll need to see it in person.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would rather have the extended cab concept but I will still look at it. If Hyundai prices this in the high 20’s thru 30’s I am not interested. Much rather have a base model in the low 20’s and higher teens.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I applaud Hyundai and will be watching, but I suspect it will be a bulbous styling disaster like the Nissan Murano CC with 29in wheels.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I’m hoping it’s not going to be a disaster, but I think it will be, and they have nobody to blame but themselves. They had the look down, they didn’t need to mess with it, but they did, and…?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would settle for the crew cab as long as I could fit my rear engine riding mower in the bed and be able to close the tailgate. I still would rather have the basest model. I still prefer the concept with the extended cab and a rear seat delete.

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