TTAC's Next Podcast: Chatting Cars With Robby DeGraff
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2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Review - Style Over Utility
Those of us with memories longer than a goldfish can think back all the way back to last year and remember the hype surrounding the Hyundai Santa Cruz. A hype train that quickly derailed when Ford’s Maverick launched just a few months later and proved itself better at doing “truck things” than the Santa Cruz.
Thing is, as great as the Maverick is, the Santa Cruz is still a pretty cool little trucklet – if you understand its limits.
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz First Drive - Style Meets Substance
Let the minitruck wars begin.
While the Ford Maverick has gotten most of the spotlight, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz became available for the media horde – or at least those in the horde than Hyundai deemed worthy of an invitation – to drive before the Ford.
The Brands That Need Small Trucks
Outside of the Bronco, Ford’s Maverick has gotten a lot of attention recently. And Hyundai’s Santa Cruz is upcoming — media drives are set for August.
This got me thinking — if we’re on the cusp of a return to truly “compact” trucks (well, relatively compact), which other brands should be getting in on the action, and soon?
How Ford is Bringing Back the Small Pickup
Small pickups aren’t so small anymore. The trucks we today consider mid-size have dimensions that aren’t far off the smallest full-size trucks from the 1990s.
Enter Ford. And soon, Hyundai.
Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Dresses Down in Spy Shot
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.
Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Takes Shape
As Hyundai, following a years-long deliberation process, prepares to put the Santa Cruz into production in Alabama, spy photos have emerged of a prototype undergoing cold-weather testing.
Maybe it was just playing in the snow. Regardless, the camouflaged vehicle is our best look yet at the brand’s long-awaited personal pickup.
Not a Rash Decision: Hyundai Greenlights Santa Cruz Pickup for 2021
Think back to early 2015. January, to be exact. The world was nearly five years younger, and social media was less of a scourge. Far fewer grey hairs polluted this writer’s temples, his cynicism was still manageable, and the unlikely star of the Detroit International Auto Show happened to be a unique unibody pickup from Hyundai.
The Santa Cruz Concept unveiled at that show (seen above for the umpteenth time) employed clamshell doors for access to a tight backseat and a bed that straddled the line between Colorado and Baja. Boasting a modern, eye-catching body, it positioned itself as a youthful, entry-level activity vehicle for those with little interest in the size and expense of a larger, traditional pickup.
Nearly five years later, the Santa Cruz is finally, officially headed for production.
Your Semi-regular Reminder That a Hyundai Pickup Is on the Way
Reservation holders of a base-model Tesla Model 3 aren’t the only consumers who’ve grown tired of waiting. Aficionados of the Hyundai brand have been champing at the bit for a Korean pickup ever since the delightful Santa Cruz concept debuted at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, only to see their dreams of ownership placed in a hazy limbo.
In October, Hyundai Motor Company CEO Wonhee Lee suggested the model still isn’t greenlit, despite earlier assertions to the contrary, with R&D still in the initial phases. With the brand’s U.S. comeback still an uncertain thing, top brass were on the fence about the model’s ability to carve out its own compact niche in the burgeoning downsized truck market. Now, we hear it’s totally a sure thing.
Oh, and there could be a Kia pickup, too.
Hyundai Pickup Still Not Greenlit; Two Years From Production If It Is
The timeline of Hyundai’s long-anticipated pickup calls to mind Lt. Frank Drebin’s description of lovemaking: “It’s a painstaking and arduous task that seems to go on and on forever, and just when you think things are going your way, nothing happens.”
While a production version of Hyundai’s 2015 Santa Cruz concept once seemed like a sure thing, the would-be model still doesn’t have the backing of Hyundai brass, meaning it won’t trundle down an assembly line for at least two years. If it does receive the green light, however, Hyundai’s sticking with its plan to create its own niche in an increasingly crowded small pickup market.
Hyundai Says Santa Cruz Pickup Still Coming, but You'll Need to Be Patient
Remember that Santa Cruz Concept pickup that miraculously appeared at the 2015 North American International Auto Show? Well, according to Hyundai, it’s still earmarked for future production, but the brand has really dragged its feet on its development.
Despite a warm welcome from the automotive media, the Santa Cruz hit a major speed bump when former CEO Dave Zuchowski left Hyundai Motor America. At the time, Zuchowski was pushing hard for more SUVs and especially the pickup truck, but sliding domestic deliveries forced home office to oust him from his position. Tragically, Hyundai’s preponderance of cars is probably the largest factor contributing to lackluster U.S. sales — something Dave seemed to understand.
Hyundai continued its pursuit of SUVs and crossovers without him, but the pickup was lost in the mix. Originally planned for a 2018 release, development of the Santa Cruz stagnated. Now, the automaker says it intends to get things back on track.
A Proper Pickup Truck, Not Just a Santa Cruz, Is Being Considered For Production at Hyundai
“We’ve been talking about it for a number of years now,” Hyundai Australia’s chief operating officer, Scott Grant, said at the Genesis G70 global reveal.
No, he’s not talking about the G70, or any Genesis for that matter. He’s not talking about the H-100 pictured above. He’s not talking about the Tucson-based Hyundai Santa Cruz that finally seems destined for production after years of back-and-forth indecision.
Hyundai is now considering a true pickup truck. “We’re confident of having something on the other side of 2020,” Grant says.
Hyundai’s coming for your pickup truck market share, Nissan.
Hyundai Hopes to Solve U.S. Sales Woes With Slick Little Pickup
Hyundai intends to launch a small pickup truck in the United States as part of its plan to catch up with the industry’s shift away from sedans. Up until now, that strategy has involved cramming as many SUVs onto the market as possible. But Hyundai brand sales are still dragging behind 2016’s monthly averages in the U.S., with end-of-year estimates falling short of company goals.
The solution is to keep pushing the Tucson, start deliveries on the Kona mini SUV before 2018, and begin development of a pickup truck based on the Santa Cruz concept from 2015 (seen above). Hyundai is also rumored to be planning on adding three additional sport utility vehicles or crossovers to its North American lineup by 2020 — helping it shore up waning sedan and hatchback sales.
Two Years Later, Hyundai Still Won't Confirm Santa Cruz Pickup Production
Two years have passed since Hyundai dropped the Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept at 2015’s North American International Auto Show.
A small, stylish, affordable, diesel-powered trucklet? Give’er the green light, the internet says.
Hyundai has consistently supplied plenty of information in the 24 months since the truck’s debut to stoke Santa Cruz-oriented hype. “There is a very high probability we get the approval of the truck soon,” now-departed Hyundai USA boss Dave Zuchowski said 20 months ago.
Soon? Clearly not.
Acknowledging Hyundai is “working as hard as we can to make it happen,” Hyundai’s vice president of corporate and product planning, Mike O’Brien, told Car And Driver that Hyundai is still not entirely certain the Santa Cruz is bound for production.
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.