As much as I didn’t care too awful much for the Santa Cruz Concept that debuted at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, apparently the majority of people polled seemed to like it. In fact, enough folks liked it that a Hyundai executive informed Reuters that the automaker is now debating building a production pickup. However, Park Byung-cheol, director of R&D at Hyundai, said that there are some “hurdles” in getting the model to production.
Now, when I say that I didn’t like the Santa Cruz, it had nothing to do with the way it looked. In fact, I felt that the concept was a refreshing take on the segment and really showed that the brand is focused on younger buyers. What I didn’t like about it was that Hyundai was clear in the fact that towing, hauling, and off-road driving were not its main functions. I’m sorry, but those three factors should be the main selling points of every pickup.
In addition to the looks, I also fancied that 2.0-liter diesel engine under the hood of the concept that produced 190 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. Sure, the 190 ponies leaves a little to be desired, but the 300 pound-feet of twist is a great stat for a pickup. If only it had a chassis and driveline that could actually handle towing, I could see great things from this model.
Unfortunately, my two favorite parts – the body and the engine – are likely the two parts that will get the axe on its way to production. A diesel engine in a vehicle like this simply won’t sell in America, and the body is way too un-pickup-like to be a production model, though a production model could take styling cues from the concept. I could be wrong on both accounts – I certainly hope I am – but I just don’t see either making it beyond the concept phase.