The idea for a crossover truck isn’t a new one. Things like the Honda Ridgeline, Chevrolet Avalanche, and even the GMC Envoy XUV have trotted down that path. Nevertheless, Hyundai’s latest concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show is a truck of sorts. It’s called the Santa Cruz and Hyundai says it combines all the driving dynamics of a crossover SUV with the utility of a small pickup. A quick read of the press release (below) confirms suspicions that the Santa Cruz Concept is a lifestyle vehicle aimed at Millennials who have “unspoken needs” of greater utility.

“Santa Cruz is the perfect vehicle for those that want the attributes of a CUV, but still have dirty stuff that belongs ‘in the back,’” Hyundai says. The idea is tantalizing: to have room for muddy shoes, fishing or sporting gear, and the occasional stack of firewood without giving up the car-like interior and easy driving attributes.

The Santa Cruz does offer an interesting solution for hauling longer loads in its shorter bed. Beneath the bed lining lies a second section that pulls out like a drawer, added length to the bed’s floor and side walls. The tailgate remains fully functional, allowing easy access to the bed. Cargo tie downs line the inside of the box for easily securing items. A hard-folding tonneau cover seals the bed for weather and security.

What’s more, Hyundai has thrown in a 2.0-liter turbodiesel that makes 190 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. The automaker expects the Santa Cruz to achieve fuel economy ratings in the upper 30-mpg range.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept.

  • 2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    190
  • Torque @ RPM:
    300
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    130 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    30000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept Exterior
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2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept High Resolution Exterior
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The Santa Cruz certainly takes on an interesting look. It shares a similar overall footprint as a crossover, but things behind the missing B-pillar take a different turn. Where the B-pillar would normally reside is now the joint for the conventional front door and the rear-hinged suicide door. Think of it as an extended cab pickup. The bed area is completely connected to the cab, reinforcing the idea that this is no ordinary pickup.

Design cues around the Santa Cruz hark to other Hyundai designs, including the Santa Fe crossover and Genesis sedan. One aspect not seen before are the racing style center-lock wheels. The two-tone look also adds plenty of character, matching the light and darker tones on the Santa Cruz’s body.

Interior

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept Exterior
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Hyundai hasn’t said much about the Santa Cruz’s interior beyond suggesting it will appeal to Millennials’ sense of style. Expect modern features like touch screens, digital gauges, and plenty of storage cubbies for various-sized items. The extended cab-like space allows for seating five people, though likely in a compromised manner for those in back. Hyundai stresses the purpose of the Santa Cruz is to be a compact vehicle capable of navigating crowded streets and parking garages while giving functionality for weekend adventures. Additional cab space would impede on this design direction.

Drivetrain

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Behind the Santa Cruz’s shapely grille lies a 2.0-liter turbodiesel making 190 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Then engine is backed by Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system for added functionality. Thanks to the diesel’s efficiency, Hyundai expects the Santa Cruz to achieve more than 35 mpg on the highway.

Conversely, the crossover truck’s purpose is urban adventuring, so towing or hauling heavy loads and traversing hard-core off-road trails isn’t on the docket. Expect it to tow no more than Hyundai’s crossover SUVs.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type 2.0-liter turbo diesel
Output 190 HP
Torque 300 LB-FT
Fuel Economy 35+ mpg

Prices

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept Exterior
- image 610683

No mention of price escaped during the presentation, but expect the Santa Cruz to be competitively priced against the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma. That is, of course, if the Santa Cruz ever gets the green light for production.

Competition

2016 Chevrolet Colorado

2015 Chevrolet Colorado High Resolution Exterior
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The Colorado’s second year into production will see the addition of the long-awaited 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder turbodiesel. Estimates suggest the powerplant will produce at least 200 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque when the engine debuts, along with getting class-leading fuel economy.

GM’s Colorado and Canyon trucks already drive like crossovers with a bed attached, plus come with a host of bolt-on cargo-holding solutions. This will prove a tough competitor for the Hyundai.

Pricing for the Colorado starts at $20,995 for the base truck. Expect prices to start around $28,000 for the diesel version once it hits the market.

2016 Toyota Tacoma

2016 Toyota Tacoma High Resolution Exterior
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Toyota has just released its latest version of the venerable Tacoma pickup truck. The midsizer comes with updated styling inside and out, a revised suspension system, and a new 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine. A new six-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmission offer customers choices that other truckmakers don’t.

The new V-6 is said to make more horsepower and torque than the outgoing 4.0-liter V-6, plus boast significantly improved fuel economy ratings. Expect the new engine to produce at least 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque; more is likely.

Pricing should stay in the same ballpark as the current truck’s $18,000 base MSRP.

Conclusion

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept High Resolution Exterior
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The Santa Cruz is Hyundai’s first venture into pickup territory, though the automaker doesn’t consider the vehicle a true pickup in conventional form. While the Santa Cruz technically competes with the new midsizers from GM and Toyota, the Hyundai approaches things with a bit more style. Granted, the Santa Cruz is just a concept, but a production version would still be a large departure from its competition.

We’re looking forward to what Hyundai’s got in store for the future.

  • Leave it
    • * Forgoes most truck duties
    • * Only an extended cab?
    • * Only a concept

Press Release

Today, Hyundai revealed its innovative Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. This fresh concept reflects a completely new interpretation of truck utility for a new generation of buyers, especially Millennials, who represent the second-largest population of car buyers.

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept High Resolution Exterior
- image 610680

“The Santa Cruz crossover truck concept meets the unspoken needs of a growing Millennial lifestyle we call ‘Urban Adventurers’,” said Mark Dipko, director, corporate planning, Hyundai Motor America. “This new crossover allows them all the expandable utility they need throughout their active week, from work-life professionalism, to social interests, to a whole variety of outdoor pursuits, without the typical compromises they have come to expect from the industry’s current product offerings.”

URBAN ADVENTURERS

Modern urbanization is impacting the market in a broad way, and this trend is especially strong with young adults, who face tighter parking on streets and parking garages, and increasing congestion overall. These trends are not confined to one specific region of the U.S.; they’re happening in urban hubs everywhere. These “Urban Adventurers” have a different mindset, being very active both socially, and in their communities, bringing a pioneering spirit to make their neighborhoods a better place to live and work.

So whether it’s loading up friends and firewood for a bonfire at the beach, coaching the youth soccer team, volunteering for a community restoration project, or a quick drop-off at the local recycling center, they need a vehicle versatile enough to accommodate both passengers and gear, while being efficient enough to fit into their unique urban lifestyle.

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept Exterior
- image 610681

To meet the specific needs of these Urban Adventurers, Santa Cruz doesn’t focus on all the same attributes as traditional pickups. It’s designed to meet more of their desires for expression, efficiency and maneuverability. Hyundai designers created a bold design that conveys this lifestyle, with a wide, sure-footed stance and an aggressive side-profile rake. The front view features an upright, hexagonal grille with cascading lines framing the sides, dual lens-free, honeycombed headlamp projectors, and prominent LED fog lamps. The side profile is highlighted by oversized wheels, Michelin® tires with a special tread design, center-locking hubs and yellow Brembo® brake calipers.

For ease of access to the rear seats, Santa Cruz features convenient, rear-hinged rear doors which integrate seamlessly with the front door design. The wheel arches, roof, and bed rails offer convenient tie-down cleats for securing cargo of all shapes and sizes. From the rear, the concept presents highly-contoured bed forms, and for extra utility, the expandable bed can be easily reconfigured for longer cargo, using a unique drawer-like sliding function.

Efficiency is a key attribute of its advanced powertrains, with an environmentally-friendly 2.0-liter turbo diesel powertrain delivering 190 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque, while achieving fuel economy in the high 30 mpg range. Santa Cruz also offers Hyundai’s HTRAC® All-wheel drive system, so there’s no anxiety about getting those snowboarding “fresh tracks” right after a storm moves through.

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept Exterior
- image 610682

The concept is purposefully compact, and although it has four doors and seating for five, its overall footprint is similar to a small CUV. These dimensions make it ideal for navigating the urban jungle or a tight parking spot that most pickup drivers often have to pass by. It offers typical CUV driving character, but with a versatile cargo bed that provides separated storage for all they want to bring along, whether it’s a trip to the recycling center, a surf or paddleboard session, or a couple of mountain bikes for the trails. Whatever the day’s activity might bring — all that dirty, sweaty, wet, sandy, bulky gear remains in the back of the truck, cleanly separated from the passenger compartment.

During the work week, gear for that early morning hike or after-work hockey game stays securely locked in the back, under an integrated, rigid tonneau cover that conveniently retracts when not needed. It not only keeps items safe and out of sight, it also keeps the interior clean and fresh. Santa Cruz is the perfect vehicle for those that want the attributes of a CUV, but still have dirty stuff that belongs “in the back.”

INNOVATIVE TAILGATE EXTENSION

Sometimes, there are those needs that call for even more cargo room; that’s why Santa Cruz offers an innovative tailgate extension that allows the bed length to be expanded whenever those “just in case” moments arise. The extension is perfect for everything from an epic mountain bike trip to bringing home an antique chest or classic motorcycle that’s ripe for restoration. When fully extended, Santa Cruz’s bed length is similar to a mid-size pickup, providing the ability to carry much more than its compact footprint would suggest, yet only when needed. Santa Cruz was designed to accommodate whatever the Urban Adventurer’s lifestyle calls for, whether expected or unexpected.

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept Exterior
- image 610683

Some of the industry’s past attempts to blend truck-bed flexibility with passenger-car attributes were limited because they didn’t deliver the practical benefits the customer expected. Most tried to straddle the line by attracting traditional truck buyers with compromised products at a similar price point, failing to deliver any differentiating benefits. Santa Cruz, by design, isn’t an alternative to a truck, so towing, payload and ground clearance were not primary goals. Rather, Santa Cruz is intended to attract CUV and sedan buyers who are seeking greater utility, without the compromises that traditional trucks often require.

MORPHING LIFESTYLE DEMANDS

Hyundai research revealed that not everyone who wants an open-bed vehicle is willing to accept the tradeoffs that come with it. As evidence of this, industry pickup truck share is down over five percent in the last 10 years, with the biggest shift among young adults, reflecting a need for something that more closely matches these morphing lifestyles. In the past, small trucks accounted for half of pickup sales, and they were particularly popular with younger buyers. Today, that same young truck market is almost non-existent, and millennials under 30 represent just seven percent of all pickup purchases. Women, who buy more than half of all CUVs sold, now account for only 10 percent of pickup sales. Santa Cruz is intended to meet the customer needs that the current truck product offering is simply not fulfilling.

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept Exterior
- image 610684

Santa Cruz is for the growing population who sees and pursues the world differently, those who want all the traditional attributes of a small CUV, but need the day-to-day versatility of an open bed. It’s the crossover truck that meets the unspoken needs of Urban Adventurers.

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