There aren’t many surprises at auto shows these days, but Korea pulled one over on us with the Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept. This truck-ish concept promises all-wheel drive, high 30s MPG, an extended cargo bed, and all the utility a Millennial like me could ask for.
So what the hell is it? Well the Santa Cruz is supposedly the precursor to an actual truck model, as Hyundai wants to fill in the basically empty compact truck market. Smaller than even the Chevy Colorado, Hyundai wisely stuffed the Santa Cruz with a 2.0 liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel making 190 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque through the H-TRAC all-wheel drive system. Rear-hinged half-doors give access to the back of the cab, and up to five passengers can ride along in the Hyundai Santa Cruz without cramming in.
Basically, what Hyundai tried to build was a crossover sans the rear third of the cargo area, replacing it instead with a far-more-versatile truck bed. The bed can extended, and a built-in tonneau cover keeps your gear safe and dry while you’re off on an “urban adventure” or whatever it is us Millennials do these days. Seriously though, I could use a pickup, but most are just priced too far beyond my budget.
Most importantly though is the proposed high-30s fuel economy, which would shame all of the full-size competitors and even the mid-size ones like the Colorado and Tacoma. The biggest factor of all though could be price, with Hyundai rightly pointing out that many trucks cost between $30,000 and $40,000 to drive off the lot. There seems to be an indication that the production Santa Cruz would cost well below that, in keeping with Gen Y’s obsession with value.
While the muscular looks are sure to be toned down before production (and hopefully it’ll look less like another certain pickup concept), this new entry into the long-neglected compact pickup market could really jolt the industry back to its senses.