Hyundai wowed the crowds at the 2015 North American International Auto Show with its Santa Cruz pickup concept. Taut flared fenders and an extended cab with a raked C-pillar combined to give it decidedly athletic proportions. It certainly wasn’t like anything currently on the market. Now we know that the Santa Cruz pickup is finally coming to production, and these spy photos reveal that it’s shaping up to be a bit more practical than the concept.
The most obvious change is the move from an extended cab to a crew cab configuration, although that’s not a surprise. Full four-door models make up the bulk of light-duty pickup sales and the Honda Ridgeline, which looks to be the Santa Cruz’s chief competitor, is only offered in crew cab configuration.
We know that the Santa Cruz will be built alongside the Santa Fe in Hyundai’s assembly plant in Montgomery, Alabama. These photos confirm that the two will have a strong family resemblance; the front of the Santa Cruz has a lot of 2021 Tucson and 2020 Santa Fe DNA, including the pentagonal headlights set in its fascia below thin marker lights that touch the top corners of a trapezoidal grille. The 2021 Santa Fe has a different style all together, but this should leave the Santa Cruz adhering closer to its original concept form than if it had merely been a 2021 Sante Fe with a bed.
We expect the Santa Cruz to be powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 238 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, a powerplant that is also available in the Santa Fe. The photos of the test mule towing a decent-sized trailer lead us to believe that a V-6 will be available as well. The larger Hyundai Palisade is available with a 3.5-liter, 273-hp V-6 that might make a better match to go up against the 280-hp Honda Ridgeline.
It might not look as stunning as the concept, but the Santa Cruz is still shaping up to be an interesting addition to the pickup market. We’ll keep out eyes out for more details on this crew cab ute.