We’re about to find out just how much Americans love pickups and SUVs.
Hyundai on Thursday revealed the long-anticipated Santa Cruz, a cross between a pickup and an SUV that first generated buzz as a concept vehicle in 2015.
The Korean automaker is calling the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz a “sport adventure vehicle.” While alternative descriptions for vehicles often don’t stick – Kia recently tried to brand its new Carnival minivan as a “multi-purpose vehicle” – this one might, if only because the Santa Cruz looks so much different than everything else on the market.
The best way to describe it would be as a cross between the Honda Ridgeline midsize pickup and the long-discontinued Subaru Baja pickup utility vehicle. Its 195.7-inch body is 14.3 inches shorter than the Ridgeline.
You could even say it’s a distant relative of the long-gone Chevrolet El Camino, which some experts have suggested could make a comeback.
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The Santa Cruz, which will be built at Hyundai’s factory in Montgomery, Alabama, is designed to appeal to urban and suburban drivers who prize maneuverability as well as utility.
While it might not appeal to traditional pickup buyers who prioritize size and power, they’re not necessarily the target shopper.
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“We have younger buyers coming into the market,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Cox Automotive car-shopping site Autotrader. “They may have a different sensibility.”
The Santa Cruz is poised to arrive in U.S. dealerships this summer, but customers can make early reservations in late April.
It will test Americans’ enthusiasm for a new strain of pickups, which perpetually hold the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 slots on the list of the best-selling vehicles in America.
“Santa Cruz, with its bold styling, breaks open all new segment territory, both for Hyundai and the industry as a whole,” Hyundai North America CEO Jose Munoz said in a statement.
“Open-bed flexibility coupled with closed-cabin security meets the changing everyday needs of its adventure-oriented buyers, while powerful and efficient engines and superb maneuverability ensure it is a pleasure to drive in urban or off-road environments.”
The open bed comes with a lockable tonneau cover, “hidden bed storage” and bed extension accessories, Hyundai said.
Other features include:
• 20-inch alloy wheels
• An available “edgeless” 10-inch infotainment screen
• A standard 2.5-liter, direct-injected four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, generating more than 190 horsepower and capable of towing 3,500 pounds.
• A 2.5-liter direct-injected turbocharged engine with more than 275 horsepower and 5,000-pound towing capacity is available as an upgrade.
• Forward-collision avoidance system with pedestrian and cyclist detection and lane-keeping assistance.
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