It was back in January 2015 when Hyundai unveiled the Santa Cruz concept to signal its intentions towards developing a small pickup for North America. Fast forward a little over six years later, the production model is a couple of weeks away from its big debut. For now, these surprisingly revealing teaser images will have to suffice.
Premiering April 15, the compact truck appears to be heavily related to the latest Tucson in terms of design, at least as far as the front fascia and front doors are concerned. As seen on the compact crossover, some of the light modules are part of the intricate grille, helping the Santa Cruz stand out. It’s not like Hyundai has too many rivals to worry about anyway, though the upcoming Ford Maverick should give the Santa Cruz a run for its money considering Blue Oval’s truck heritage the South Korean marque certainly lacks.
Hyundai isn’t going in-depth with the technical specifications for the time being, but it vows to “shatter both SUV and truck segments, creating an entirely new vehicle category.” That’s certainly a bold statement, which is partially backed up for now by the interesting design penned in North America. The 2022 Santa Cruz will also be built here, specifically at the company’s Alabama factory.
“Powerful and efficient powertrain options” are being promised, along with the essential all-wheel-drive setup you’d want from a pickup. It remains to be seen how closely related the Santa Cruz is to the Tucson, but this will certainly be a unibody truck in the same vein as the aforementioned Maverick and the Honda Ridgeline, though the latter is likely larger than Hyundai’s ute.
The teasers confirm it will be offered in a practical crew cab configuration whereas the namesake concept had shorter rear-hinged “suicide” doors more fitting when trying to make a big splash with a show truck. The bed appears to be on the small side, as expected given the Santa Cruz’s compact footprint, so this is definitely not going to be used as a workhorse vehicle.
Hyundai’s pickup truck has certainly been a long time coming, and its impending debut goes to show how far the brand has evolved in the last couple of decades. The fact it’s confident enough to enter the pickup segment in a truck-loving North American market speaks volumes about how the perception of Hyundai has drastically changed for the better since the 1990s.