Hyundai’s design chief claims the crossover-based Santa Cruz is still in the works, but is there a place for it?
If you’re in the market for a “crossover truck”, you’re still in luck. In a recent interview with Autocar, Hyundai design chief Luc Donckerwolke said the Santa Cruz is still well on its way to production. In fact, he says the design phase of the truck is complete, and “the process to put it into production is well on the way.” The Hyundai Santa Cruz definitely looks like something that’s meant to be more of a lifestyle vehicle than an outright workhorse. What you see above is the concept from a few years back, but the ultimate product may look similar to what’s already here.
Let’s not forget that Hyundai just launched the 2019 Santa Fe and revealed the all-new Palisade. As far as styling goes, we suspect it will sit somewhere between those two on size, with elements that resemble the new Santa Fe.
Hyundai installed a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel in the Detroit Auto Show concept. Given the public’s current perception of diesel engines, that may not end up happening in the final product. Hyundai promised a 2.2-liter diesel engine would make its way into the Santa Fe, packing 190 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. That engine reportedly won’t make its way into the Santa Fe until 2020, when we may also see this truck emerge. All-wheel drive will be a necessity here, but base models could have front-wheel drive.
Do you all want another crossover-based truck?
That powertrain setup puts it more in league with the Honda Ridgeline. And that, for me, is where the issue lies. Hyundai plans to put the Santa Cruz into production “as soon as possible”, according to the Autocar report. A Kia version would almost certainly come along shortly after that. While the midsize truck market is a lucrative one – hence the new Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator – trucks like the Ridgeline have struggled.
Honda has been in the market for over a decade now. While it originally sold well, its sales pale in comparison to trucks like the Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado. Even the aging Frontier outsells the Ridgeline by nearly 3-to-1. That’s not to say the Ridgeline is a bad vehicle, by any means. But there’s a reason the Ridgeline is down 13.1 percent this year, while every other midsize truck has gained ground.
It’s a cool-looking little truck, don’t get me wrong. It’s clearly aimed at the millennial lifestyle-type who takes their truck up to ski country or down to the beaches to tackle some serious waves. To that end, the production truck will likely be a crew cab model to have a hope of competing with the other midsize trucks. Ultimately, it just needs to be more than a crossover with a bed – something that can work hard as well as play hard.