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Future models - Hyundai - Santa Cruz Truck concept

Hyundai teases Santa Cruz ute, Aus launch ruled out

As the reveal inches closer, Hyundai Australia shuts down local Santa Cruz hopes

6 Apr 2021

HYUNDAI Motor Company (HMC) has released four darkened teaser images of its upcoming Santa Cruz pick-up truck ahead of its global reveal on April 15, however a local introduction has been definitively ruled out by the Australian subsidiary.


Brandishing a similar front end and light signature to the imminently arriving Tucson medium SUV, the Santa Cruz is expected to be underpinned by the same N3 platform as the Santa Fe seven-seater with which it is also expected to share its powertrain(s).


Much like the Jeep Gladiator, the Santa Cruz will be marketed more as a recreational vehicle than an out-and-out workhorse on account of its SUV underpinnings – a monocoque chassis and the likely omission of leaf springs – however all-wheel drive is almost guaranteed to be offered.


In keeping with the current HMC design language, angles and sharp contours are aplenty on the Santa Cruz while the tub is noticeably shorter than other utes, another indication of its recreational intentions.


Despite the immense popularity of pick-up trucks – especially 4x4 versions – in Australia, the local arm of HMC has ruled out a local introduction for the Santa Cruz despite its interest, citing delivery complexities associated with the ute’s Alabama production.


“We expressed interest in Santa Cruz, and believe it could carve out a niche in the Australian market, but with production coming from our Alabama plant the business case for development of right-hand drive wasn’t practicable,” a spokesperson told GoAuto.


If the Santa Cruz did make it Down Under, its most likely rival would be the short-wheelbase version of the SsangYong Musso with the two sharing similarly squat tubs, coil-sprung rear ends with independent suspension and ultimately similar outputs with HMC’s turbocharged 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine (as seen in the Santa Fe) churning out 140kW/440Nm to the Musso’s 133kW/420Nm – also from a force-fed 2.2.


The Musso fights back however with what should prove a vastly superior braked towing capacity (3500kg vs the Santa Fe’s 2500kg) and a low-range transfer case for the selectable 4x4 system.


With the Musso not currently offered in the North American market, HMC says the Santa Cruz will “break new ground within the SUV, truck and crossover segments by offering a new category of vehicle unlike anything else”.


“Santa Cruz, with its bold styling, breaks open all-new segment territory, both for Hyundai and the industry as a whole,” Hyundai Motor North America president and CEO Jose Munoz said.


“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 manoeuvrability ensure it is a pleasure to drive in urban or off-road environments.


“Our customers will wonder just how they managed before owning one.”


Ford may have a spanner or two to throw into HMC’s plans stateside as it gears up to reveal and launch its new Maverick pick-up – another semi-skim ute not destined for Australian shores.

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