It takes a long time to bring a concept car to the point of production feasibility – just look at the mid-engine Corvette and the Jeep Gladiator. Another hotly-anticipated concept has been Hyundai's Santa Cruz pickup, first teased at Detroit in 2015.
While the small pickup was originally set to go on sale last year as a 2019 model, a few things changed at Hyundai. A sales slump, followed by the ousting of CEO Dave Zuchowski, meant that priorities had changed, at least in the short term.
When the Santa Cruz was initially displayed, it featured a corporate face that mimicked the design of other Hyundais. That's set to change, according to SangYup Lee, the head of Hyundai's Global Design Center in Namyang, Korea.
"No more Russian dolls," he says. Instead, he wants each vehicle in Hyundai's lineup to have a unique look, prompting curious onlookers to investigate before discovering that it's a Hyundai.
Gallery: 2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept
It's a brave strategy, but a smart one for a brand like Hyundai, which is slowly shedding its bargain-basement reputation as it builds better and better cars year over year.
While we can still expect the Santa Cruz to hit the street sometime in the future, the design will be dramatically different than what we saw four years ago in Detroit. While the basic form of the compact unibody pickup truck will likely remain, Lee said that the overall design "will be a lot more distinctive" and have "a lot more character" in an interview with Motor Trend.
It's entirely possible that this may be the first recorded case of a production vehicle being even more radical than the concept that preceded it. No matter how it ends up looking, we're excited to see the return of small pickup trucks to the US.
Source: Motor Trend