Hyundai Greenlights Pickup

Santa Cruz 2 II

The last time we heard about the Hyundai Santa Cruz concept pickup truck (first introduced at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit), there was quite a bit of internal debate going on at Hyundai about its viability, but things looked like they were progressing through the product planning process.

No doubt debate will continue about whether it's the right time for the long-familiar idea of a sport utility or crossover utility truck. But with the recent debut of the second-generation, fence-straddling 2017 Honda Ridgeline, oil prices below $30 a barrel, strong pickup sales overall and a growing midsize segment, maybe the market is ready now. Certainly Jeep thinks so, and if rumors at Mitsubishi and Volkswagen are true, we might see even more midsize choices in the next few years.

But do we need a downsized pickup like the Santa Cruz that offers fewer of the traditional truck benefits and more carlike limitations?

According to, Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski said during the 2016 Detroit Auto Show that the only thing left to decide about a new downsized pickup was timing of the official announcement. Zuchowski also said he believes the new Hyundai pickup, whatever it is called, will appeal to crossover utility and certain SUV buyers.

It should be interesting to see how Hyundai can produce this pickup given the company's existing platforms, and then how it will sell it in the competitively priced midsize pickup segment. Although the 2017 Ridgeline prices will not be released for several months, we imagine that for a new Hyundai pickup to be successful, it would have to be priced below the new Ridgeline to have broad appeal. However, that might be something more in line with corporate sibling Kia's brand image. If brand history holds true, Hyundai may want to position and price the new model as more upscale and more expensive. There's no question Hyundai has a lot to sort out here. More to come. photo by Mark Williams


Santa Cruz 1 II



@Papa Jim: "Economy is not so hot in US and Canada. In fact, it's so bad that Walmart announced this week that they are closing a zillion stores. When the marketing geniuses from Bentonville AR are losing money, you know that the consumer economy is crap."

There is a saying in the Real Estate industry: "Location, location, LOCATION!" But I'll take this one step farther. Your "zillion stores" is really only around 165 stores of which 112 were the Walmart Express stores; so the real number of store closings come out to a mere 53 or so. Interestingly, where I live what occurred was one store closed, to be replaced by two larger stores. Honestly, the Walmart Express (which bears no relationship to a "Dollar Store") was simply too small and far too limited under the Walmart name. It essentially killed itself.

My point? While I agree we're seeing some contraction in the overall economy right now, it's not JUST the US and much of it is affected by global politics. While costs of some commodities have gone down, others have skyrocketed. A truck you might have paid $30K for back in '08 now costs $38K or more while other vehicles have seen similar increases. Worse, what you pay at the store even for basic living needs costs from 15% to 25% more than they did in '08. We have been experiencing inflation, but not necessarily due to any weakness in the dollar but more due to more profit-taking by the ones who hold the purse strings AND control our government.

The practicality of the Santa Cruz concept is certainly up for debate. The styling of this thing is right on the money for a vehicle undoubtedly designed for young urban dwellers. It offers head turning good looks, small enough to fit in city sized parking stall and can move some items when you need to. You can probably move household appliances in that truck no problem. Hyundai needs to work with the aftermarket accessories supplier next.

Posted by: GMSRGREAT | Jan 15, 2016 3:38:51 PM

This will be a rare time that I agree with GMSnotsoGreat. This look is after the current generation of younger adults. Most of the people here seems like they are much older men/boys and they grew up with large pickup trucks, big engines and so forth. And those have there place for sure. Just look at the truck numbers. Big trucks are and will always be popular. But smaller SUVs are also very popular. Just compare minivan sales to SUV/CUV sales. This vehicle will appeal to buyers in their 20s and 30s. But in this configuration it would have limited sales. While we like our smaller vehicles we also spend a lot of time with friends doing stuff. So at least for me when I look for a vehicle, I want 4 doors because we always have people with us. You offer a 4 door version of this vehicle you have great looks, economy, hopefully the ability to tow at least a few jetskis to take to the lake with some friends. And you have that appearance of a truck without the large real estate that a full sized truck takes up. Trucks are getting bigger and bigger and are getting harder and harder to fit in a garage. When you buy a nice home in a subdivision you expect to be able to park your vehicles in the garage. Not in the driveway. So this could take some sales from full sized trucks but I see it as an option for a SUV buyer.

There is a lot up in the air about this vehicle but you give it seating for at least 4, some cargo carrying ability, the ability to tow maybe 3500lbs, price it in the 20s you could have a neat vehicle.

Papa Jim many times I will check this site out when I am sitting on the toilet making a statue of Johnny Welfare

So my boyfriend and I were talking about this vehicle the other day. it would be nice to have a vehicle that would make us cuddle together when driving. nice and man cozy.

papa jim, You are confused on how sales are calculated.

1) Only vehicles sold to real end users are counted as sales in the sales charts you see on PUTC and others released monthly.

2) When GM or FORD CORPORATE, for example, records a sale for their accounting books, they count it sold when it is delivered to the DEALER. This report comes out quarterly when GM CORPORATE reports their earnings. This is NOT what is reported on PUTC.

I'm under the impression that the Santa Cruz is a four seater.

I do believe a single cab would be ideal. This vehicle is intended for the young or old and single cab will offer a much larger bed.

I like the looks of the vehicle and it would even be nicer with a two litre diesel fitted. You would then have an over 40mpg pickup in the US.

Alex Jones,
The monthly numbers are the vehicle that are essentially delivered to the dealers lots.

In other words, the vehicles that have left "Ford's possession" and are handed to a dealer.

This doesn't mean they are necessarily sold to a customer.

Many times I will check this site out when I am sitting on the toilet making a statue of Johnny Welfare!

@Big Al:
I'm under the impression that the Santa Cruz is a four seater."
-- Based on the photos from and after last year's NAIAS, I'd prefer to call it a 2 + 2, not much more than the typical Mustang or Camaro as far as back seat comfort. This would easily be supported by the half-doors on either side instead of a true four-door layout.

"I do believe a single cab would be ideal. This vehicle is intended for the young or old and single cab will offer a much larger bed."
-- Perhaps it would offer a larger bed, but as is clearly indicated here in the US and overseas, the regular cab is fading away simply because there is no interior storage. That extended cab layout at least permits carrying gear under lock and key; out of the weather and secure from light fingers as you drive through the city.

"I like the looks of the vehicle and it would even be nicer with a two litre diesel fitted. You would then have an over 40mpg pickup in the US."
-- I'm thinking this could do well enough with a 1.6t or a 2.4 or so. Add a 6- or 8-speed automatic or 6-speed stick and you'd get reasonable acceleration. I'll grant my 18-year-old Ranger is a bit sluggish with a 2.3L 5-speed stick, but the new engines get quite a bit more than a mere 130 horses out of an engine that size today. But even that little beast tends to surprise people by getting out of its own way and even burning rubber on a straight-away takeoff despite its weaknesses.

"We have been experiencing inflation, but not necessarily due to any weakness in the dollar but more due to more profit-taking by the ones who hold the purse strings..."


Stick to trucks, not that you know much about trucks that could inform anyone, but your remark about inflation is a laugher.

That remark you made is so foolish that only you could have said it.

Look up the definition of inflation. Nevermind, I'll save you time. In the context of your comment, inflation refers to the decline in the buying power of a specific currency.

Everywhere and always. No exceptions.

Then you referred to trucks as a commodity. Seriously? Your assignment is to look up the meaning of the word commodity. Class dismissed.

@BAFO, You are so WRONG.

With Ford (and just about everybody else*), the sale "counts" when a flesh-and-blood customer signs the contract and drives it away. A dealer taking delivery of a stock unit does not count as a sale for the purpose of these monthly sales reports.

It is really simple and I will explain it to you again:

In accounting terms, as part of quarterly and annual reports, companies book revenue when vehicles are 'sold' to dealers.

In terms of units sold reported as part of the CAFE requirements, and monthly reports (as seen on PUTC), sales are tallied when vehicles are delivered to customers.

Educate yourself.

Reminds me of the derivative Pickup of the Datsun sedan, not a roaring success

@Robert Ryan

At least the little 1300 was a functional little truck. Think of all the auto parts and pizzas that would still be waiting to be delivered were it not for the little Datsun.

The Hyundai mini truck looks like the answer to a question that nobody (besides two or three regular commenters on this site) was asking. Kinda stylish and cute, but not a real truck.

The 21st Century version of the El Camino. It's useless but it looks good being that way.

That is not a pickup truck. That is a miniature El Camino.

I'll give credit to Hyundai. At least they are making their prototype actually happen... Not like the other manufacturers who tease is with prototypes, we wait years, and nothing happens.

Red - Actually aluminum has been used for at least 10 years. I believe my mom has been using it for longer. The only real difference now is Ford has changed the way they approve of aluminum repairs. Here is an example...

^^^^^^Nice try Johnny Welfare Doe^^^^^

Many times I will check this site out when I am sitting on the toilet making a statue of Johnny Welfare.

Datsun had a good little truck with a usable bed. If this Hyundai truck were more along the lines of the Datsun 1300 with a more modern drive train and safety features it would sell. Even if you took a Hyundai San Fe platform and drive train and adapt it to a modern version of the Datsun truck. Even adding another foot or foot and a half would make this Hyundai more usable.

@Jeff S on second thought I think Hyundai is rattling everybody else's cage with this talk of a pickup. The rest of the industry makes piles of money with light duty trucks, right?

Hyundai makes THEIR money doing what the rest of the industry does, only better. They out-Honda the folks at Honda.

Their product team gets designs from a piece of paper to the showroom in under 2 years. The rest of the auto makers are green with envy.

@papa jim--I did not realize Hyundai had such a quick turnaround from drawings to production in less than 2 years. They make some really good vehicles. My next door neighbor had one of the first redesigned Sonotas in the Spring of 2010 (MY 2011). It was a beautiful car and gave him no problems except the stereo speakers which were fixed under warranty. He traded it in this Summer with over 150k miles and got a 2015 Kia Optima which is similar. Before that he had Mazdas and Hondas. I like this new Hyundai truck but I need a bigger bed. I like the new Colorado/Canyon a lot but would also look at the Frontier, Tacoma, and the new Ridgeline but I am leaning more toward an extended cab which would probably rule out the Ridgeline.

Many times I will check this site out when I am sitting on the toilet making a statue of Johnny Welfare!

@Jeff S.

Under 2 years. I heard my brother in law (the car dealer) quote the figure 18 mos.

We were at an NFL game a few years ago yacking about cars before the game started and he was telling me that he and the other Ford dealers in his region had been raising hell about the amount of time it was taking Ford/Mercury/Lincoln (this is around 2005) to bring a clean-sheet design to the showroom. He said the Koreans were doing it in 18 months.

It was even worse at GM and Chrysler in those days.

@papa jim--No wonder Hyundai has been growing so quickly. They have some really nice products. Sounds like the other auto manufacturers need to step up the game.

It all depends,

If it's smaller than the midsize trucks unibody truck with a 4' bed and 2' bed extender and 2 front seats with a little extra room and 32+ MPG and starts at $16k and tops out at $26k loaded.

Maybe they did find a new niche.

Using the slide-out tailgate or whatever, CAN IT HAUL A 4x8' PIECE OF OSB to a jobsite? That's the only question that needs to be answered.

Commodity: A useful or valuable thing.

Are you telling me pickup trucks are not useful or valuable?

The comments to this entry are closed.