There have been attempts in the past to combine SUVs with pickup trucks — the Ford Explorer SportTrac and Chevrolet Avalanche both come to mind when thinking of this odd segment — and they were met with moderate sales success. Unfortunately, all of these unique SUVs dies in recent years, but it appears as if Hyundai may be thinking about reviving this segment at some point in the near future with the revealing of its Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept.
According to Hyundai, this truck-crossover hybrid is aimed squarely at millennials, and is designed to give these younger drivers the versatility of a small footprint, wide and stable track, a crossover cabin, and a truck bed that has multiple configurations. From the outside, not only does this crossover look fairly useful, but it is also quite the stunner, thanks to an aggressive hexagonal grille, lens-free honeycombed headlight projectors with LED lighting, massive wheels wrapped up in Michelin rubber, and yellow-painted Brembo calipers.
In its standard setup, the bed looks rather small – I would estimate is at under five feet – but this is where the versatility comes in. Using a drawer-like system, one can quickly reconfigure the bed for added cargo area or even use the tailgate extension to increase the bed size to that of the typical midsize pickup. On top of the adaptable bed, the Santa Cruz Truck also has tie-down hooks on the wheel arches, roof, and bed rails to allow the driver to secure various shapes and sizes of cargo. That said, don’t think of tossing a ton of gravel in the bed, as Hyundai was rather clear in its press release that this concept is not viewed as a replacement for a truck, and payload capacity was not a focal point in its development.
In its base setup, the Santa Cruz Truck offers a crossover-like cabin with seating for five people. The rear passengers appear to have limited room, as they can access their seats only through a small set of rear-hinged doors.
Under the hood, Hyundai did fine by me, adding in a 2.0-liter, turbo-diesel, four-cylinder engine that delivers a respectable 190 horsepower and a surprising 300 pound-feet of torque. This engine delivers its power to all four wheels via Hyundai’s HITRAC all-wheel-drive system, making trekking through a snow-covered urban jungle a walk in the park. In an interview with Car and Driver, Hyundai did note that it would (hypothetically) come standard with front-wheel drive.
Now, the real question is whether or not this concept will make it to production. Well, in a conversation with Car and Driver, Mike O’Brien, Hyundai’s VP of Product Planning said “We’ve been very serious in terms of the concept, so we’ve been working very close with engineers. There’s been an engineering team working on this as well as a design team. It’s not just been a design exercise at all.” I think it’s safe to say it is a good possibility that we’ll see a production version of this concept soon.