The Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept took everyone at TFL by surprise when it debuted at the 2015 NAIAS. We thought Hyundai Abandoned the idea of producing a pickup many years ago, after the 2004 debut of the Hyundai (KIA) Mojave KCV4 Pickup Truck Concept.
This isn’t a true pickup truck, and that’s the first thing Hyundai wanted the world to know. Based on a similar platform the underpins the Hyundai Santa Fe, the Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept has no frame, no solid axles, no additional sub-frame (like the Honda Ridgeline) and no locking diff. Nope, it’s very similar to vehicles like Fuji Heavy’s Subie Baja.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept that was on stage was a rolling concept without an interior or running gear that can be viewed. Another thing that was only viewable as a sketch was the extending bed. Think of the extending bed as a telescoping pickup bed that extends the bed at least a foot. If you add the extending bed and lower the tailgate, you could haul a real motorcycle. That would mean a payload capacity over 600-ish lbs.
“The Santa Cruz crossover truck concept meets the unspoken needs of a growing Millennial lifestyle we call ‘Urban Adventurers’,” said Mark Dipko, director, corporate planning, Hyundai Motor America. “This new crossover allows them all the expandable utility they need throughout their active week, from work-life professionalism, to social interests, to a whole variety of outdoor pursuits, without the typical compromises they have come to expect from the industry’s current product offerings.”
It’s a good bet that its maximum tow rating is around 1,500 lbs. Enough for a single jet-ski and trailer – or a small tent trailer.
Hyundai mentioned a 2.0-liter diesel that makes 190 horsepower and puts out 300 lb-ft of torque. Now THAT would be cool. No mention on a transmission, all-wheel drive system (the speaker made sure that we all knew it would NOT be a 4X4), but it’s easy to assume the same “Shiftronic” six-speed automatic and gasoline 265 hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder that makes 269 lb.-ft from the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport could make an appearance.
We’ve scanned the comments from the debut of the Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept and there’s quite a bit of chatter about it not being a true pickup truck. Yes, that’s the point. Do you expect Hyundai to build a truck to go head-to-head with a Tacoma or an F-150!?
Not everyone needs a serious pickup truck. Some people just want something economical and car-like that can occasionally haul goodies. The Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept is that vehicle. Sure, it needs a folding mid-gate and a slightly higher ride height, but it could be that one vehicle that can truly be all things to certain people.
Okay, so no boulder bashing for the Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept. It will never be a heavy hauler or a tow rig. That’s fine with an awful lot of consumers who don’t need a full-blown truck.
If Hyundai plays their cards right, this could be the start of a (minor) revolution! I just hope they give buyers a manual transmission option.
The viability of a vehicle like this, especially with no competitor building one any time soon AND the fact that it is based on lots of Hyundai tech, could be a compelling reason for Hyundai to build it. Hyundai got to where they are today by taking a few risks and by thinking out of the box. I bet this slick concept has a lot of people in Korea and the United States scratching their chins in deep contemplation.
I say: “Build it!”
One final thought: if they build it similar to what was shown – WITH – a manual transmission and AWD… I will buy one. Promise made right here folks!