Hyundai just unveiled the Santa Cruz – a “Sport Adventure Vehicle” as they call it, which is the first pickup from the Korean brand known for their variety of crossovers and SUVs. It isn’t meant to compete against the big boys in the pickup game and instead, poised to make an entirely new segment.
The Santa Cruz has a compact size that’s significantly smaller than what we have here in the country. Against the Hilux Conquest for example, the Santa Cruz is 14 inches shorter, 6 inches lower, and 3.2 inches shorter on the wheelbase. This compact size makes it easier to maneuver and park inside the city, making it very apt for people who want the open bed versatility but don’t want the cumbersome size of the pickups currently in the market.
Its pickup bed also has a few tricks. There’s a built-in locking cover, a hidden storage compartment, optional bed extension accessories, and integrated corner bumper steps. You wouldn’t have to worry about random people taking things at the back during a red light on an intersection.
The name Santa Cruz is such a tame and classic name for a pickup that looks futuristic and menacing. It has the same fascia that Hyundai uses on its newest models, featuring an LED-lighting array that matches the look of the grille itself. The A-pillar is sleeker while the C-pillar is slanted, unlike typical SUVs, presenting a more modern approach to the pickup design. The back is very distinct with its horizontal T-shape taillights and the bold name stamped at the tailgate.
Inside is the same interior that Hyundai used on the fourth-generation Tucson. The dashboard has a two-tier design that spreads out to the door panels from the center console, simulating two cockpits for the front passengers. At the center of the dash is an 8-inch touchscreen with the option for the 10-inch ‘edgeless screen’, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and wireless charger, while the driver has the option for a 10-inch full-digital screen. Audio is secured by Bose, while in-cabin storage is maximized with bins under the seats.
The Santa Cruz has a choice between two gas engines. First is a 2.5L engine that produces around 190 hp and 244 Nm of torque, paired to an 8-speed automatic. Alternative to that would be the 2.5L turbo engine with 275 horsepower and 420 Nm of torque, coupled to an 8-speed dual clutch transmission with paddle shifters. The NA engine is capable of towing around 1.5 ton while the turbo-pairing can haul around 2.2 tons. All trims also come with Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system that has multiple-modes for versatility in many driving conditions.
“Santa Cruz, with its bold styling, breaks open all new segment territory, both for Hyundai and the industry as a whole,” said Jose Munoz, President and CEO of Hyundai North America. “Our customers will wonder just how they managed before owning one.”
Currently, the Santa Cruz is only available for the North American market. They are confident that it will be a success there and if it is, Hyundai might consider taking it to other regions. With more Filipinos participating in more outdoor activities like hiking and glamping, having a compact pickup might be the right fit.