This is our first good look at the new Hyundai Santa Cruz.
Although Hyundai unveiled it as a concept in 2015, the new Santa Cruz hasn’t yet materialized in its production form. Now, the company confirmed the model will finally roll off the assembly line in 2021, and these spy shots give us a much better idea what the company’s first pickup will look like.
To start, it’s worth noting that Hyundai isn’t actually marketing this is a pure pickup truck. Instead, the company considers it a “crossover”, which makes sense given its family tree. It’s most closely related to the Hyundai Santa Fe crossover, and has a unibody construction rather than a body-on-frame layout. Hyundai will build the upcoming Santa Cruz at its Montgomery, Alabama assembly plant, where it currently builds the Santa Fe alongside the Elantra and Sonata sedans.
Upon first glance, it looks markedly different than the concept that first broke cover at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. That’s because the company has undergone a major styling shift in the past five years. To that end, this looks a lot like the new Santa Fe than the old concept. There’s a new nearly vertical grille up front, as well as split headlight and daytime running light assemblies. From the A-pillar back to the rear doors, this pre-production Santa Cruz looks nearly identical to the Santa Fe crossover.
Then there’s what’s at the back. You can distinctly make out the bed in these photos. That said, it’s a bit tougher to judge exactly how large that bed is. While the Honda Ridgeline has a bed length around 5-1/2 feet, the Santa Cruz looks slightly shorter.
As for engines, it stands to reason Hyundai will fit the 2021 Santa Cruz with a similar engine to the Santa Fe crossover. That means either a naturally-aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 2.0-liter turbocharged unit. The larger displacement unit manages 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque, while the 2.0-liter engine makes 238 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. In the Santa Fe’s case, both engines mate up to an eight-speed transmission.
We expect to see Hyundai’s H-TRAC all-wheel drive system make an appearance in some form here. However, the company may tweak it a bit to handle more truck-like tasks than its crossovers.
Hyundai announced it would start production in 2021, with its most direct competitor being the Honda Ridgeline. Competing in the same segment as the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon and Nissan Frontier, we’ll have to wait and see exactly how well Hyundai’s first attempt to break into the market fares. Stay tuned to TFLtruck.com for more updates.