Rumors have swirled for years that Hyundai may build a pickup truck, and it looks like that may finally be about to happen. The Korean automaker unveiled the Santa Cruz pickup truck concept at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week.
Appearing to be part crossover and part pickup truck, the Santa Cruz leads off with a new take on Hyundai's hexagonal grille. The front end has a wide, imposing stance, while the fenders cover oversized wheels with center-locking hubs.
Securing a wide variety of cargo is possible with tie-down cleats on the wheel arches, roof and bed rails. For hauling larger items, the bed can be extended and easily reconfigured with a drawer-like sliding function. If this functionality and unique style reminds you of the Subaru Brat and Baja, you aren't alone.
Loading passengers and cargo into the Santa Cruz is helped by a pair of rear-hinged doors. While there is seating for five, the overall size of the Santa Cruz is that of a small crossover.
A 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine rated at 190 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque powers the Santa Cruz concept. Hyundai claims fuel economy in the high 30 mpg range, but that's theoretical since this is a concept vehicle. Power is sent to all four wheels through Hyundai's HTRAC all-wheel-drive system.
Hyundai is quick to point out that the Santa Cruz isn't an alternative to a traditional pickup truck, so the automaker doesn't prioritize towing, payload, or ground clearance. It's intended to appeal to crossover utility buyers who want more utility without the huge size of a traditional truck.
Is this the pickup that Hyundai will finally end up building? That we can't answer yet, as Hyundai's made no commitment—but this does seem like a creative direction for the brand if or when it eventually ends up building a pickup truck.
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