Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept Aimed at Urban Millennials
Turbodiesel Trucklet Targets “Urban Adventurers”
Hyundai and Kia are well-established players in the compact and midsize sedan markets and have found modest success in crossovers. The one segment the Koreans haven’t yet entered is pickup trucks. Perhaps discouraged by the relatively incremental sales of the Japanese in the heavily domestic-dominated truck market, Seoul decided its efforts were better spent on hot-selling crossovers. However, the Hyundai Santa Cruz concept shows that the company has not totally abandoned all hopes of entering the truck market, depending on your definition.
The premise behind the Santa Cruz is that there’s an under-served group of buyers that want greater versatility and utility than offered by most crossovers but don’t have the need for the towing and payload capacity of a traditional pickup. Hyundai claims the Santa Cruz is ideally suited to the typical activities of Millennials, such as dropping off recyclables, loading up mountain bikes and hitting the trail, or going surfing, among other pursuits. To keep those dirty, sandy, or smelly items separate from the interior, the Santa Cruz’s cargo area is completely separate from the interior. However, to facilitate the loading and transport of longer, bulkier items, the Santa Cruz is equipped with a drawer-like slider to lengthen the available cargo space. An integrated retractable tonneau cover keeps items secure and out of view when parked.
The concept is a four-door, but the rear doors are rear-hinged doors typical of those found on extended-cab trucks. The Santa Cruz is billed as a five-passenger, but based on its size, we wouldn’t want to be stuck in the back for an hours-long road trip.
What’s most intriguing to us about the Santa Cruz concept is what’s under the hood. Hyundai specifies a 2.0L turbodiesel I-4 making 190 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque and capable of fuel economy in the “high 30 mpg” range. The power hits the pavement through Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel-drive system. The transmission type was not mentioned but figure it being a conventional torque-converter automatic or possibly Hyundai’s new dual-clutch transmission.
The Honda Ridgeline offered the premise of a unibody, crossover-based truck, on a somewhat larger scale and is currently a distant fifth in midsize truck sales. A new Ridgeline is coming within the next few years, with Honda convinced there’s a market for it. Although considerably smaller than the Ridgeline, the Santa Cruz shows Honda isn’t alone in its belief that there’s a market for non-traditional trucks.