America is the land of the pickup—just ask Detroit’s “Big Three” how well the Ford F-Series, Chevy Silverado, and Ram trucks are selling despite the pandemic. It comes as no surprise when other companies want a piece of the proverbial pickup truck pie, and Hyundai looks to be the next to enter the fray. It won’t be in the form of a brutish full-sizer, though; it’ll have a unibody like the Honda Ridgeline, supposedly with crossover architecture underneath.
On Wednesday, Hyundai reignited the public’s interest in its project by unveiling a number of updated sketches that show off the 2022 Santa Cruz pickup ahead of its April 15 debut.
Off the bat, Hyundai avoids calling the Santa Cruz what it is—a pickup—despite it being able to tow a decent amount. Instead, the automaker says it’s a “Sport Adventure Vehicle,” capitalizing on the notion that it’s built atop the new Hyundai Tucson’s platform, but with a bed. And all things considered, they look almost as if they could be twins…at least from the front.
Hyundai knows this, and it’s going after a relatively untapped market: the compact truck. Now, sure, the Ford Maverick is taking aim at the same segment; however, Hyundai is taking a less direct approach to consumers and instead claiming that the Santa Cruz will be in “a new category of vehicle unlike anything else in the U.S. market.”
Judging by the small bed, four-door cabin, and rather bold design, we think the folks in Seoul might be on to something.
The technical specs are pretty lean right now. Hyundai says that the Santa Cruz will have “powerful and efficient powertrain options,” meaning that buyers will likely have a few engine choices to pick what best fits their needs. Additionally, Hyundai mentions that the vehicle will have all-wheel-drive underpinnings, emphasizing the truck’s adventurous nature.
When we last saw Hyundai publicly tease the Santa Cruz, it was a futuristic concept with rounded corners and a defined side profile. Since then, we’ve seen a number of other leaks showcasing the unibody truck, including a photo of the shell carried by a forklift, and most recently a YouTube video showcasing an up-close spotting of it next to a Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid.
You’ll also notice that the Santa Fe crossover in the video above seems to be slightly taller than the test mule. The Santa Fe has a height of 66 inches, meaning that the Santa Cruz might be even smaller than people expect. For comparison, the current generation F-150 is nearly 78 inches tall, and both the Honda Ridgeline and Ford Ranger sit around 71 inches.
Profile aside, Hyundai is likely hedging on youthful buyers to take a shot at its newest model. The bold styling, mention of cutting-edge vehicle connectivity, and the automaker’s recent tech-heavy focus on its vehicles point to a customer who might be looking for something a little less SUV-like, and a bit more utilitarian—all while avoiding the claim that they drive a pickup truck.
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz will be unveiled in all its glory on April 15 and begin production this summer in Montgomery, Alabama.
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