Hyundai Santa Cruz Readies to Kick Some Sand

Jason R. Sakurai
by Jason R. Sakurai

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.

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.

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.

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]

Jason R. Sakurai
Jason R. Sakurai

With a father who owned a dealership, I literally grew up in the business. After college, I worked for GM, Nissan and Mazda, writing articles for automotive enthusiast magazines as a side gig. I discovered you could make a living selling ad space at Four Wheeler magazine, before I moved on to selling TV for the National Hot Rod Association. After that, I started Roadhouse, a marketing, advertising and PR firm dedicated to the automotive, outdoor/apparel, and entertainment industries. Through the years, I continued writing, shooting, and editing. It keep things interesting.

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3 of 49 comments
  • Don1967 Don1967 on Apr 01, 2021

    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.

    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Apr 01, 2021

      So Dr. Who along with Bill and Ted will grab one in case they need to haul their time machines to the shop.

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Apr 01, 2021

    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.

  • VoGhost Quality review. Thanks!
  • VoGhost Love this collective clutching of pearls over a vehicle name not a single commenter will ever see, drive or buy.
  • 28-Cars-Later "Here's why" edition_cnn_com/2018/06/13/health/falling-iq-scores-study-intl/index.html
  • 28-Cars-Later Seriously, $85. GM Delta I is burning hot garbage to the point where the 1990 Saturn Z-body is leagues better. My mother inherited an '07 Ion with 30Kish otc which was destroyed in 2014 by a tipsy driver with a suspended license (driver's license enforcement is a joke in Pennsyltucky). Insurance paid out $6,400 when it was only worth about $5,800 IIRC, but sure 10 year later the "hipo" Delta I can fetch how much?
  • Buickman styling does not overcome powertrain, follow the money. labor/materials.