By on March 31, 2021

Santa Cruz

Gearing up for its debut on April 15th, Hyundai has released renderings of the Santa Cruz, its ground-breaking pickup named for a sleepy Northern California beach city.

Santa Cruz

According to Google Translate, phonetically in Korean, pickup truck is ‘pig-eob teuleog’. In the Korean domestic market, Hyundai has produced the Pony pickup of the ’80s, and more recently a small, commercial flatbed truck called the Porter. From what we’ve gathered previously, the Santa Cruz will be a unibody pickup, as is the Honda Ridgeline, but with styling more akin to that of the Subaru Brat and Baja.

Santa Cruz

Hyundai’s preferred moniker for the Santa Cruz is a sport-adventure vehicle, but in Korean, ‘seupocheu moheom chalyang’ is a real mouthful. It also is oh-so-close to BMW’s trademarked sport-activity vehicle designator that it’s easy to confuse one SAV with the other, at least by label.

Santa Cruz

Touting the Santa Cruz’s unique style, a mashup of SUV, truck, and crossover elements, Hyundai promises powerful powertrain options, a must for anything even remotely resembling a truck. A rousing debate on Facebook as to what constitutes an underpowered vehicle hopefully won’t have another model to target, if Hyundai has done its homework.

In mentioning all-wheel drive, the Santa Cruz is said to be at home in more adventurous environs than the suburbs, and no doubt given the opportunity to put that to the test, we will.

How flexible can the Santa Cruz’s open bed possibly be if it’s not able to accommodate the prerequisite plywood sheet by which all pickups are judged? While there are other trucks that aren’t able to lay plywood sheets flat to the pickup bed either, there’s no way to angle it to fit from what we’ve seen thus far. Reportedly, Hobbs Truck and Jeep Accessories in Las Vegas, Nevada, has a bed rack in development for the Santa Cruz, based on intelligence they’ve gathered overseas.

“Santa Cruz, with its bold styling, breaks open all-new segment territory, both for Hyundai and the industry as a whole. Our customers will wonder just how they managed before owning one,” said Jose Munoz, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor North America. How bold? Will the Santa Cruz create a segment within the segment?

[Images: Hyundai]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

49 Comments on “Hyundai Santa Cruz Readies to Kick Some Sand...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Just waiting for the Maverick v Santa Cruz throw down.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    If someone wants to gin up some outrage on Twitter (and somebody always does), they could point out that this truck is named the Holy Cross, which is sure to offend somebody.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    So can I get my Santa Cruz with a BMI of under 40? This is what Jabba the Hut would look like as a Transformer.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I do wish this and the Maverick offered a clamshell-door cab instead of only the full crew cab.

    tinyurl.com/um2982na

    Other than looking better it probably would have allowed the bed to be some inches longer.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    The Santa Cruz looks nice and I’m sure it’ll more than hold its own against the Maverick. AWD/4WD helps. But a four-door pick-up with a short bed is not what I’m after. Why in the hell couldn’t Mahindra ever get its compact, two-door pick-up into this market? I suspect it would have jolted the domestic brands quite a bit. Maybe GM will come through with its latest global compact pick-up that’s under development. Or maybe the Chinese will surprise us. But I’m not holding my breath.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It’s called Lemon Laws. The trucks would eat themselves in a short amount of time.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Biro

        I don’t know. Are we sure about that? I’m not disagreeing but Mahinda’s construction equipment seems to do fairly well. And don’t they have a plant in Michigan? I think the last plan to bring the pickups here involved assembly in Mexico to take advantage of North American trade laws. Either way, we’re not getting them.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          There’s exponentially less things to break or not work as designed on construction equipment. Consumer protection acts don’t do much for them AFAIK. If I remember right, there was no Mexico connection, but they were to be sent from India separately from their drivetrains and installed at that plant.

          There’s also those pesky US emissions (don’t bother sending diesels) and safety regs to deal with.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Why couldnt they have just made it Ridgeline sized..

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I don’t think, this will fly very well in America. 1. Hyundai truck? 2. Too small of a truck

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Your coming at this wrong. Instead think CUV with bed, then this makes perfect sense.

      Why do people buy CUVs? They love the step in height, perceived all terrain capability, along with the active lifestyle tie ins. This type of vehicle is that with a bonus of being more truck like. In theory its a win-win. You get that cool truck look but easy to park and decent fuel economy. Nobody hauls stuff in most pickup trucks anyway these days. And those that do would never consider a unibody truck-let anyway (see Ridgeline) so that is not the market. This is for someone who thinks a CUV like the RAV4 or CRV is weak sauce because those are cute hatchbacks but this is a TRUCK (sort of).

      As some who owned an SUV (Rodeo) and two smaller pickups (Ranger and Dakota) I can tell you a bed, even a short one is way more usable. Tall or messy objects can be easily hauled. So whether its mountain bikes or mulch a little truck-let is perfect.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “This is for someone who thinks a CUV like the RAV4 or CRV is weak sauce because those are cute hatchbacks but this is a TRUCK (sort of).”

        Fifty shades of lame.

        “a little truck-let is perfect.”

        We should have specified tiny, “little” seems to mean “huge” to these designers.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Is the tiny, high-sided bed going to be well-suited to carrying mulch and mountain bikes?

        This is the old Baja carrying a bike and it looks like a PITA compared to just laying it in CUV’s cargo area. And, the Subaru seemed to have lower bed sides.
        https://tinyurl.com/4w4xt7tb

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          If the Baja has existed in 2018 there is a strong possibility I would have bought it despite the drawbacks of a Subaru. The Baja is longer than my Corolla IM but the footprint isn’t so much larger that it would have created space issues. This Santa Cruz looks to be much larger.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I am thinking of Subaru Baja. What happened? That was exactly compatible to this. Who is the buyer? If any excitement exists right now, I believe this is premature. And I have a good record of predictions. My last prediction was that newest version of Mazda3 will sink miserably. It is somewhere in comments on these pages. Looks at the data!
        I understand your feelings for the small truck. But I still don’t understand who will buy this. Young people? In the city those drive small cars. They need to street-park. Contractors? – no. Suburbans – yes. Some. But I see a lot of suburban youth driving Wranglers and GTIs. We’ll see

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Record-setting levels of ugly here…which gives me an inspiration for GM. Since the General is all about resurrecting dead model names (like Hummer), I think it’s time for Aztek II. It’d probably sell today.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      I actually like it in these press shots or renderings. Of course, half of it is in the shadows. I don’t know how I will feel about it when I get to see the other half.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      I saw an Aztec in a line of CUVs the other day and it looked totally like all the other rigs. Only reason I noticed it was the taxicab yellow paint.

  • avatar

    I though this thing was DOA a long time ago, because they made a big deal about unveiling it in 201..5? And then never did anything with it.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I am sitting here in a position to be a buyer of the concept Santa Cruz. But it has grown and added 2 full doors and strayed from what made me like the concept and I think I’m out.

    As I’ve said previously, I want a 2021 version of the Subaru BRAT.

  • avatar
    Mackey

    They embossed the name into the tailgate skin just like Chevy, Ford, Toyota and Nissan (I think). Therefore, it MUST be a truck! And you all doubted it’s credentials. ;-)

  • avatar
    Mackey

    They embossed the name into the tailgate skin just like Chevy, Ford, Toyota and Nissan. Therefore, it MUST be a truck! And you all doubted it’s credentials. ;-)

  • avatar
    Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

    I would not be likely to buy a pickup, however, I would very likely consider this when my lease is up. All wheel drive, room for five and a bed. Hyundai’s warranty is 60K and they tend to have fun colors. I love my CX-30, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve had a couple of S-10s and miss that functionality the 10 times a year I need it.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I am glad to see Ford and Hyundai getting into compact trucks if they do well then maybe others will follow. I might be more interested in the Maverick since it has a slightly bigger bed.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I can see the advertising tagline:

    Honey I shrunk the Avalanche!

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    I actually like the thing. I could see me driving this.

  • avatar
    1500cc

    It’s truly amazing that any reputable automotive site posted “Voltswagen” as a serious story. I myself can be fairly naive at times, but even I instantly recognized it as an April fools prank. There’s just no way a sensible person could see such a name change actually happening. I guess the need for clicks overrode any journalistic integrity.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I wonder how many of those “trucks are too big” types will actually purchase this?
    I can hear the excuses now…it’s too expensive and it isn’t brown and doesn’t have a manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Yep. Along with the “this thing isn’t worth a penny more than 12 grand because that’s what I paid for my S-10 in 1987” or “I wanted it, but the radio only stored 5 presets and I have to have 6”. There is always some silly dealbreaker on these. The build it, the skinflints that said they’d buy it don’t, they cancel it, and then the skinflints complain that they only build big trucks.

  • avatar
    don1967

    They’ll sell a million of these things to the telephone booth relocation industry.

    For everyone else the devil will be in the details, ie: cab opening up to the box, in-floor storage, etc.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    So if you put a bed cover on one of these you’d actually have a useful sedan with a real trunk opening. Outside of that, I don’t see much use.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • mcs: Actually, if they did less Asian outsourcing, it might not be less. Teslas employee count for the Austin plant I...
  • Ol Shel: If you love gasoline-powered cars, then you will always believe that electric will be ‘subpar’....
  • Ol Shel: Let’s wait until EVs are perfected before they’re offered to the public. Just like they did with...
  • Art Vandelay: I think the DMC-12 is pretty well served already. I saw a first gen Sable earlier this week and...
  • Art Vandelay: The Panther “heritage parts program” exists. It is known as your local pick n pull.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber