It was nearly five years ago when Hyundai signaled its intentions towards launching a new pickup truck by unveiling the Santa Cruz concept at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. It’s only now a prototype of the utilitarian vehicle has been spotted by our friends at The Korean Car Blog resting somewhere in a parking lot wearing an extensive amount of camouflage. With this being only our first sighting of the ute, we’re somewhat surprised the test vehicle appears to look nearly production-ready as it seems to have all the final body panels in place.
Despite the heavy disguise, we can already notice the Santa Cruz’s extended cab body style with rear-hinged half-doors has been dropped in favor of a roomier double cab shape with proper rear doors granting access to roomier rear seats. The bed doesn’t look particularly large, but that’s to be expected considering Hyundai has said the production variant will have a compact size.
Due to be built at the company’s plant in Alabama from 2021, the Santa Cruz won’t be the first truck to carry the Hyundai logo as the H-100 / Porter has been around since the second half of the 1970s, while the first-generation Pony received a pickup conversion around the same time. The new one is reportedly being developed under the “NX4” codename and will share its underpinnings with the all-new Tucson coming in 2020.
The mascara gets in the way of seeing the front end design, but we’re getting the sense it will adopt a Palisade-inspired appearance judging by the large cutouts in the camouflage for what is likely a part of the headlights. Some of the Santa Cruz’s styling cues might rub off onto the production version seeing as how the concept’s name will be carried over, but we’ll have to wait for new spy shots with less disguised prototypes.
Hyundai’s much-awaited truck will materialize following a $410-million expansion of the factory in Montgomery, which will lead to the creation of 1,200 new direct and indirect jobs.