Hyundai is about to join the mid-size pickup truck segment here in the United States with a production version of 2015's Santa Cruz concept car, and we've just spotted a prototype.
Though heavily camouflaged, we can see that the production Santa Cruz will closely resemble the concept. There will be differences of course, the main one being a more conventional four-door cab on the production model instead of the concept's cab which featured rear-opening suicide-style doors.
Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept
The prototype also reveals the Santa Cruz's grille design and independent rear suspension. You'll also notice the bed is very short. This comes as no surprise as Hyundai said at the reveal of the concept that the vehicle isn't an alternative to traditional pickup trucks. Rather, Hyundai said it wants to appeal to crossover buyers who want the extra utility of a bed without having to resort to an actual truck.
Hyundai announced last November that the Santa Cruz will be assembled at the automaker's plant in Montgomery, Alabama, allowing the vehicle to escape the punitive Chicken Tax on imported pickups trucks. The plant is where Hyundai also assembles the Santa Fe which is expected to share underpinnings with the Santa Cruz. The rival Honda Ridgeline also features car-like unibody construction, and Ford has also promised to launch a small, car-based pickup.
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
It isn't clear what powertrains are planned but it's almost certain we won't see the 2.0-liter diesel engine that was fitted to the concept. It's possible a diesel will still be offered outside the U.S., like Hyundai does with the Santa Fe, though the automaker remains quiet on export plans. The Santa Fe sold here is offered with a standard 185-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-4 and available 235-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4. Both are mated to an 8-speed automatic.
Production of the Santa Cruz is slated to start in 2021. This means we'll likely see the vehicle arrive as a 2022 model.