Remember the original Hyundai Santa Cruz concept? You should. The stylish pickup wowed crowds at the Detroit Auto Show early in 2015 and promised a soon-to-debut production version. But five years have come and gone since then, and you still can't buy one.
Thankfully, 2021 promises to be the year changes all that. We've steadily reported on rumors, leaks, and supposed details on the upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup – and we even have reason to believe that it could debut as early as this year. Until then, these are all the juicy details you need to know about the upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz.
What Will It Be Called?
There's a lot of evidence to suggest that the production truck will keep the name "Santa Cruz" from the concept. Hyundai filed a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last August for the Santa Cruz name, and when looking at the current lineup of crossover SUVs, it makes sense. Santa Cruz would slot in nicely between other nameplates like Santa Fe, Tucson, and Palisade (all named after cities/places in the U.S.)
What Will It Look Like?
The production Santa Cruz should resemble the 2015 concept slightly, but we expect less aggressive body cues and the inclusion of the brand's latest grille and headlight treatment, found on more-recent models like the Venue and Palisade, to carry over. Our rendering (pictured above) imagines the production Santa Cruz with some of those current cues. Though, a leaked image of the truck's bare body does prove that the original concept's key features – like the short bed sloping C-pillar – remain.
Spy shots of the truck don't show much but do give us an idea as to the truck's overall size and shape. Again, it's proof that the original concept's overall shape and size will remain in some form on the production version. And those spy shots also give us a glimpse at the Santa Cruz's unique 10-spoke wheels, which look production-ready.
What’s Under The Hood?
The standard Santa Cruz will probably borrow one of Hyundai's current gas engines, maybe a version of the brand's turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder, or the 3.8-liter V6 from the Palisade. That V6 is capable of producing up to 291 horsepower. But alongside a gas engine, reports suggest that Hyundai could also offer the turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel engine from the new Genesis GV80 (good for 278 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque) on the Santa Cruz, just not in the U.S. Hyundai will apply that diesel engine to commercial use in other countries. We also expect the Santa Cruz to come standard with front-wheel drive, but also offer all-wheel drive as an option.
Will It Be Body-On-Frame?
Maybe. Even though the original Santa Cruz concept from 2015 featured a unibody construction – and we thought the production version might be too, given the brand's many unibody crossovers – a report from September says that the pickup could use a more truck-like ladder-frame build.
"What's clear to us is that if we're going to bring a ute out, it had better be a ute," Hyundai Australia CEO John Kett said in an interview with the Australian publication Which Car last September. "We've got past the first hurdle of what it needs to look like, but it needs to be functional as well. That's the important part."
Unfortunately, we haven’t seen many reports since then corroborating that interview. So there’s no way to confirm whether the Hyundai Santa Cruz will be body-on-frame or unibody until it actually debuts.
Where Will It Be Built?
Hyundai will build the Santa Cruz pickup starting in 2021 at its Montgomery, Alabama assembly plant, alongside cars like the Sonata and Elantra. The company announced back in November that it will build the Santa Cruz here in the U.S., president and CEO of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Byungjin Jin, saying: "Bringing the Santa Cruz to HMMA demonstrates that Hyundai Motor Company is confident our more than 3,000 Team Members are ready to build a quality crossover for the U.S. market."
Gallery: Hyundai Santa Cruz Spy Shots
How Much Will It Cost?
Hyundai hasn’t confirmed how much the Santa Cruz will cost. But given the price of competitors – like the Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, and a few others – expect Hyundai to ask in the mid-$20,000s for its truck to start.
Gallery: 2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept
When Will We See it?
Hopefully Hyundai pulls the cover off of the Santa Cruz sometime this year, since production is scheduled to start early in 2021. The Los Angeles Auto Show (if it still happens, given the current state of things) could be a likely location for the truck to debut. Otherwise, we expect a virtual debut around the same time.