Hyundai’s Santa Cruz truck seems a shoo-in for production, but will buyers bite?

Hyundai Santa Cruz front angle
When it comes to pickup trucks, the name Hyundai doesn’t immediately spring to mind. That’s why the Korean firm’s Santa Cruz truck was one of the most surprising concept vehicles of last year. And now it appears Hyundai wants to put it into production.

“Our timing is not crossing our fingers and waiting for approval, it’s trying to figure out when we’re going to announce it,” Hyundai U.S. boss Dave Zuchowski told Australia’s Motoring in an interview at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show. He indicated the U.S. market will be the priority, which makes sense, given that sales of trucks have always been stronger here than anywhere else.

And it’s a particularly good time for midsize trucks like the Santa Cruz. The segment was dead just a couple of years ago, but redesigned models including the Toyota Tacoma and the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins have reanimated it, and buyers seem to be responding. The 2017 Honda Ridgeline also debuted in Detroit, and would likely be the Santa Cruz’s most direct rival.

Like the Honda, the Santa Cruz concept is based on a car-like unibody. It was designed more as an alternative to crossovers rather than a direct competitor to traditional body-on-frame trucks. This construction yields refinements in areas like ride quality and reduces weight, but at the expense of towing capacity and off-road ability. It’s not unheard of for consumers to trade crossovers for trucks, though, so this approach may work for Hyundai.

When it debuted at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the Santa Cruz concept packed a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel engine with 190 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, which Hyundai said was capable of fuel economy in the “high 30-mpg range.” It also used the HTRAC all-wheel drive system from Hyundai’s production cars and crossovers. If that package translates to production, the Santa Cruz will definitely be more comfortable on road than off.

But that’s probably the idea. When it launched the concept last year, Hyundai said the Santa Cruz was intended for millennial “Urban Adventurers.” Those aren’t typical pickup buyers, and whether they’ll bite is as big of a mystery as whether Hyundai can pull off a production truck in the first place.

Cars

Mercedes wants to turn your car into a comfortable shopping mall on wheels

Mercedes-Benz designed its MBUX infotainment system with e-commerce in mind. Motorists can upgrade compatible cars via an over-the-air software updating system, but the brand wants to take this technology to the next level.
Cars

Tesla gives us a cryptic look at its cyberpunk, Blade Runner-inspired pickup

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself. It could make its debut in 2019.
Cars

Can electric cars be S3XY? Tesla says yes with the new Model Y crossover

Tesla introduced a crossover named Model Y at its design studio in Los Angeles. It's a more spacious alternative to the Model 3 it shares 75 percent of its parts with, and is a smaller sibling to the Model X.
Cars

Karma Automotive continues clawing back from the brink with three new cars

Karma Automotive will bring three new cars to the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show, including a long overdue redesigned version of its Revero plug-in hybrid and an all-electric concept car.
Product Review

The Nissan Rogue is smart, handsome, and practical. What’s not to love?

Year after year, Nissan’s Rogue compact crossover is a consistent best-seller, outpacing Honda’s CR-V, and even Toyota’s mighty RAV4. We looked for the reasons why people love the 2019 Nissan Rogue, and found them.
Cars

Nvidia’s new simulator brings virtual learning to autonomous vehicle developers

Nvidia introduced a simulator for testing autonomous vehicle technologies. Drive Constellation is a cloud-based platform technology vendors can use to validate systems efficiently, safely, and much faster than with vehicles on real roads.
Product Review

Who needs a Range Rover? BMW’s X7 has better tech and just as much luxury

The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s long-overdue entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Packing three rows of seats and plenty of tech, can the new BMW take on Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover?
Cars

Tesla wirelessly gives the Model 3 a 5-percent increase in power

Tesla again showed the potential of its innovative over-the-air software updating system by making the Model 3 five percent more powerful via a firmware update. The Performance model gained 23 horsepower.
Cars

Fiat wants to transform the cheeky 500 city car into an urban Tesla

Fiat is finally preparing a new 500. Scheduled to make its debut in early 2020, the retro-chic city car will go electric in part to comply with looming emissions regulations.
Cars

Say goodbye to Uber for good: Here's how to cut ties with the ridesharing service

If you thought that deleting the Uber app would also delete your account, think again. You'll have to deactivate your account, then wait 30 days in order to do so. Here, we outlined how to delete your Uber account once and for all.
Cars

FWD vs. RWD vs. AWD: How the wheels that turn change the way you drive

Let's face it, you've likely heard front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive mentioned before in some context or another. But what do these terms mean, especially in terms of performance? We’ve got the answers.
Cars

Shift it yourself: How to drive stick in a manual transmission car

Driving a manual transmission car might seem intimidating at first, but it's not as difficult as you might think. Knowing how to operate this type of gearbox will serve you well. Here's everything you need to know to learn how to drive…
Cars

Waymo boosts robo-taxi plans with new service center in Arizona

Waymo has announced plans for a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, that will help to service, maintain, and grow its fleet of autonomous Waymo One cars. The vehicles operate as part of the company's robo-taxi ridesharing service.
Cars

Vivint’s Car Guard keeps tabs on your vehicle when you’re not in it

A simple plug-in that you can place in just about any vehicle, Vivint's new Car Guard will automatically detect if your car is bumped, towed, or stolen and will alert you about it.