Hyundai drops full specs on Santa Cruz pickup truck
The long-awaited small pickup truck from Hyundai, the Santa Cruz, has finally been fully detailed. With the exception of fuel economy and cost, we know everything about the car-based truck and its impressive capabilities.
Billed repeatedly in a Hyundai presentation as a "Sport Adventure Vehicle," the Santa Cruz will go into production later in 2021 as a 2022 model year offering. The truck, designed in California, will be made in Alabama and sold primarily in the North American market. It has four doors, seating for five, a truck-style cargo bed, and impressive towing numbers ... all while being smaller than any other small or midsized truck on the American market.
The Santa Cruz is about 15 inches (38.1 cm) shorter in length than the crossover-based pickup truck from Honda, the Ridgeline, and is about 10 inches (25.4 cm) shorter in length than the diminutive Nissan Frontier. Yet its width is right in between them, making it short and wide – a sporty combination. It has an overall length of 195.7 inches (497 cm), an overall width of 75 inches (190.5 cm), and a height of 66.7 inches (169.4 cm). The Santa Cruz’s wheelbase is 118.3 inches (300.5 cm), giving it a turning radius of just 20 feet (6 meters).
In its overall design, the vehicle straddles the line between crossover-SUV and pickup truck, using elements of design that are familiar to Hyundai crossover fans – in fact, most of its components are also found on the current Tucson. The front grille and hood are very much like those of the Santa Fe, while the wheel arches and stance are similar to that of the larger Pallisade.
Hyundai is carefully marketing the Santa Cruz as an activity vehicle, and isn’t pushing its truckness except to point out the utility of that design aspect. Behind the sideways "T" tail lights, the bed itself has an underbed storage compartment similar to that found on the Honda Ridgeline, but also features a built-in tonneau cover that is lockable and integral to the bed, providing secure cover for everything inside. With the cover in place, the accessible bed area is 48.4 inches long (122.9 cm) and removing the cover expands that to 52.1 inches (132.3 cm).
Also mentioned, but again only as a utility point, is the Hyundai Santa Cruz’s towing capability. With the standard engine, it’s rated at 3,500 lb (1,587.5 kg), and with the upgraded engine it tows 5,000 lb (2,268 kg). While not class-leading, those numbers are certainly commensurate with the midsize pickup truck category’s expectations. The best-selling Toyota Tacoma, for example, tows up to 6,800 lb (3,084 kg) while the more comparable Honda Ridgeline tows a maximum of 5,000 lb (2,268kg) and the smaller Ford Ranger tows only 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) at maximum.
With all of the focus on being more daily utility than pickup truck, the Hyundai Santa Cruz puts emphasis on its interior. Most people familiar with the interiors of the Hyundai crossover-SUV lineup will see a lot of commonality in the Santa Cruz. Its large infotainment with the Edison light-style numbering and "flow forward" center stack are hallmarks of Hyundai vehicles.
Wide-opening doors (front and back), well-designed seating, and obvious control placement are also part and parcel for the Korean make. Differences are in the underseat storage at the rear and the smaller, less adult-friendly look of the back seats compared to the other more dedicated people movers in the automaker’s stable. We’ll have to experience them firsthand to get a better feel for the roominess in the back of the Santa Cruz.
Powering the whole Sport Adventure Vehicle are two engines familiar to Hyundai fans. The standard engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that outputs 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque (141.7 kW, 244 Nm). The upgrade engine is the same 2.5, but with turbochargers to boost output to 275 hp and 310 lb-ft (205 kW, 420 Nm). Hyundai, however, isn’t solidifying those numbers yet, adding "plus" signs after them to indicate that they may be larger at production time. They’re impressive enough for the design and size of the truck, but nobody will complain if they’re larger, for sure.
Both engines connect to an eight-speed automatic transmission, also familiar to Hyundai enthusiasts. This transmission uses a multi-disc and individually-controlled hydraulic channel torque converter to give a more direct connection. It appears that all-wheel drive will be standard with the Santa Cruz, using Hyundai’s HTRAC AWD system.
Standard in the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz will be forward collision avoidance with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keeping assistance, and driver attention warning systems. Several options such as blind-spot collision avoidance and highway drive assist will also be available – as will infotainment and connectivity options like wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus Hyundai’s Blue Link Connected Car Service system.
Other tech options like Digital Key support and remote vehicle monitoring will also be available for the Santa Cruz, as will an eight-speaker Bose audio system.
Pricing and other details will come before launch.