Motor Trend says it has proof

Hyundai shocked the world when it debuted the Santa Cruz concept at the 2015 Detroit Auto show. The industry gabbed on whether the Korean automaker would make the leap into the U.S. midsize pickup truck market or whether the Santa Cruz was merely a design study. Well, it seems Hyundai will indeed build the crossover-based truck. At least that what Motor Trend is reporting.

“We have made the decision,” Motor Trend reports Dave Zuchowski saying. Zuchowski, Hyundai Motor America’s CEO, continued saying, “We have not made the announcement.” While that last bit is rather obvious at this point, the automaker is likely to break its silence at the Los Angeles this coming fall or Detroit Auto Shows, later next year.

The Santa Cruz is part of Hyundai’s apparent reallocation of space at its Montgomery, Alabama assembly plant to produce more crossovers. Whether the truck will actually take up residence in Montgomery is unknown, but Motor Trend’s report suggests the plant does have room for a fourth vehicle. There is also a Kia plant in Mexico with the capacity. There’s even the possibility of it being built in Korea since the Chicken Tax embargo is dying in 2021.

Regardless of where it’s built, the Santa Cruz is slotted to be a lifestyle truck that rivals the Honda Ridgeline for driving pleasure mixed with reasonable payload and towing capacities. Zuchowski is convinced most truck owners over buy, locking themselves into a truck that far exceeds their needs. The Santa Cruz is his answer to the problem.

It will come powered by a choice of a gasoline or turbodiesel engine with the option of an AWD or 4WD system. Pricing is expected to start around $25,000 and go on sale starting in Q4 of 2018 as a 2019 model.

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Why It Matters

Hyundai is growing my leaps and bounds these days thank to its impressive build quality, fair pricing, and outstanding 10-year, 100,000-mile warranties. Adding a pickup to the mix would surely help the automaker compete in truck-prevalent places like Texas and the Southeastern states.

Hyundai’s crossovers are already doing extremely well, so the expectation for a hot-selling Santa Cruz isn’t far fetched. Granted, lifestyle pickups haven’t been overly popular in the past, but only Subaru and Honda have given the segment an honest try. Subaru didn’t sell many of its Outback-based Baja trucks, but Honda has found good success with its Ridgeline. This gives hope for the segment.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the Santa Cruz does in the midsize pickup segment. It will have strong competition, though. Honda’s Ridgeline is all-new for 2017 and news of Tesla and Mercedes’ entrance into the segment adds spice. And with Mercedes breaking the ice for German brands, Audi could potentially join the fray with a rebadged version of the Volkswagen Amarok pickup. Heck, even BMW said “never say never” when asked about a future pickup model.

Source: Motor Trend

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
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