If there’s one model we’ve been highly anticipating from Hyundai, it’s their new pick-up truck – the Santa Cruz. It was first introduced as a concept way back in 2015. After six long years of development, the production model is finally here.
Unlike most pick-up trucks, the Santa Cruz is not your typical full-size model like the Ford F-150. Nor is it traditional pick-up at all like a Toyota Hilux. Instead, it’s Hyundai’s idea of a relatively compact, crossover-based truck. Think of it as a Honda Ridgeline, albeit much smaller.
Because of its car-based roots, Hyundai doesn’t call it a truck. Instead, the Korean marque prefers to call it a Sport Adventure Vehicle. That said, it does have the same initials as BMW's term for crossovers (SAV, or Sport Activity Vehicle). It’s shorter than mid-size pick-up trucks on the market like the Ford Ranger and the Mitsubishi Strada. The Santa Cruz measures 4970mm long, 1905mm wide, and 1,694mm tall with a 3,004mm wheelbase.
Despite its smaller size, the Santa Cruz is still a capable hauler. The floor of the bed only measures 1323mm long. However, a portion can be lifted to reveal a hidden storage area. It can also tow up to 2,286 kg when paired with the more powerful engine.
Speaking of engines, there are two options available. Unfortunately, none of them are diesel. The standard model uses a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder mill connected to an 8-speed automatic with all-wheel drive as standard. For now, Hyundai only says this setup produces over 190 horsepower and 244 Nm torque with a towing capacity of up to 1,588kg. The other engine choice is a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder with around 275 horsepower and 420 Nm torque. Like the base engine, the boosted 2.5-liter comes with an 8-speed dual-clutch and comes with paddle-shifters.
The 2021 Santa Cruz looks very similar to the new Tucson crossover. You might even say Hyundai stuck a bed to the rear end of the crossover. It features the brand’s new distinct grille that incorporates the LED lights. Unlike the Tucson, however, the Santa Cruz has a steeply raked A-pillar, giving it a sleeker look. With black cladding all around, the compact pick-up still looks rugged.
Inside, it’s not bare-bones and utilitarian. Hyundai has added modern features and loaded the cabin with tech. An 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system sits front and center, which is standard across the entire range. It is upgradeable to a larger 10-inch unit. Customers can also opt for a digital instrument cluster. Meanwhile, a wide variety of safety systems keep occupants safe.
The Hyundai Santa Cruz won’t be built in South Korea, well, not yet, at least. Instead, it’s made at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) in Montgomery. With that, it’s unlikely that the Santa Cruz will arrive locally since Hyundai Philippines sources their models from South Korea. Still, that's not stopping us from being interested in it. Hyundai’s pick-up truck may be smaller, but it's an interesting alternative to the ladder-frame models in the market today.