The automotive landscape in the USA is entirely self-sufficient, evident with many models designed, engineered, and made just for its own domestic consumption. Apart from normal body-on-frame pick-up trucks, there has been a tiny sub-segment of pick-ups that are passenger-car derived such as the Honda Ridgeline.
Hyundai USA has just introduced their first pick-up truck, the Santa Cruz. Hyundai terms the new Santa Cruz as a ‘Sport Adventure Vehicle’, rather than a pick-up or small truck, as it is heavily targeted to users who frequent recreational and outdoor activities than hauling construction or fabrication materials. The development of the Santa Cruz was backed by a comprehensive study and data collection.
Similar to the recently unveiled Hyundai Tucson SUV, the front of the Santa Cruz has its daytime-running lights integrated into the parametric jewel grille design, making it invisible when turned off. Wheel sizes up to 20 inches fill the arches, while the deck features plenty of storage spaces as well as a retractable tonneau cover.
In terms of size, the Santa Cruz measures close to five metres long over a three-metre long wheelbase. Compared to the recently unveiled 2021 Nissan Frontier (which Nissan terms it as right-sizing), it is marginally smaller, but still provide a decent deck length of 1.32 metres.
Customers will however appreciate the low entry height, thanks to its monocoque/unibody bodyshell. The new Santa Cruz is over 100 mm lower than the traditional pick-up trucks, similar to the overall height of the current crop of C-Segment SUVs.
There is a choice of two petrol engines, both displacing 2.5 litres. A naturally aspirated unit delivers 190 hp and 244 Nm of torque and drives the front wheels via an eight-speed conventional automatic transmission. The more powerful turbocharged engine meanwhile delivers 275 hp and 420 Nm of torque and paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT).
Users can have the engine drive channelled to all four wheels via the intelligent HTRAC variable all-wheel drive system where more torque is sent to the rear wheels in Sport mode. A centre locking differential function can be used for conditions that require more consistent torque at all four corners.
Being developed from the Tucson underpinnings, the rear suspension features an independent multi-link set up and much of the interior is lifted from the popular SUV. As such, the Santa Cruz promises to drive just like its SUV sibling.
Similar to the Tucson, the Hyundai Santa Cruz is equipped with a plethora of advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) under the SmartSense banner.
The Santa Cruz will be manufactured at Hyundai USA’s production facility in Montgomery, Alabama, where it currently rolls out the Sonata, Elantra, Santa Fe and the all-new Tucson that the Santa Cruz is based on.