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The Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Truck's Design Has Changed

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 2/16/2019 Motor Trend Staff
a car driving on a road: Hyundai-Santa-Cruz-Crossover-Truck-Concept-front-three-quarter1© Motor Trend Staff Hyundai-Santa-Cruz-Crossover-Truck-Concept-front-three-quarter1

Remember the Hyundai Santa Cruz lifestyle pickup concept from the 2015 Detroit auto show? Well ,that was a long time ago, and it no longer looks like that.

The unibody compact truck for young buyers was well-received and the automaker started work on a production model. It was even given the board's blessing to add it to the product plan for sale in 2018 as a 2019 model. But a sales slump, the ouster of CEO Dave Zuchowski who was its champion, and a focus on other vehicles pushed Santa Cruz down the priority list.

Time has passed and the design strategy at Hyundai has changed. As the brand has matured, there is no longer the need to give every product in the lineup the same look. No more Russian dolls, says SangYup Lee, head of the Hyundai Global Design Center in Namyang, Korea. He wants new vehicles to be striking and different, forcing customers to take a closer second look at which point they discover it is a Hyundai.

a car on display© Motor Trend Staff

It means that the Santa Cruz, a concept penned five years ago, was designed under the old family-resemblance regime. The design had to be updated, while keeping the basic look that made it popular.

The new Santa Cruz "will be a lot more distinctive" and have "a lot more character," said Lee in an interview with MotorTrend. It is still a crossover pickup "but the look of it is a lot more progressive." The new look has been finalized and locked in.

a man driving a car: Hyundai-Santa-Cruz-Concept.jpg

Santa Cruz is still expected to ride on the same platform as the Hyundai Tucson which is also due to be redone. The pickup will not hit the market until 2020 at the earliest. Lee would not confirm a timeline. A Kia pickup could follow later.

The original concept was shown with a large cab with suicide doors and a short bed that could be extended. It had a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine. We would expect a four-cylinder gas engine for the U.S. market where diesels are not popular beyond large pickups and SUVs. Hyundai originally planned to offer an optional 2.2-liter turbodiesel in the Santa Fe but cancelled those plans, citing low demand.

Pictured is the Hyundai Santa Cruz concept from 2015.

a car parked in a parking lot© Motor Trend Staff
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