Four doors and a box on the back of a compact vehicle
By Gary S. Vasilash
Of the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, which will be available late this summer, Jose Munoz, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor North America, says, “Our customers will wonder just how they managed before owning one.”
He also says the vehicle “breaks open all new segment territory, both for Hyundai and the industry as a whole.”
What is it?
A compact crossover with a box on the back like a tiny pickup. The bed length is 48.4 inches on the upper level and 52.1 inches below.
Think of it as about four feet.
Really not much for those who are looking for a pickup-like capability.
But to be fair to the Santa Cruz, a 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac has a bed length of 49.2 inches, so the Santa Cruz is right there.
Which leads one to wonder about opening up a new segment.
One could argue that although the Honda Ridgeline is positioned as a pickup truck, it is in many ways like an Accord with a 63.6-inch box on the back instead of a truck (and the reference to the Accord is a good thing).
Which leads one to wonder about opening up a new segment. Or living without it.
Hyundai isn’t referring to the Santa Cruz as a pickup. Nor is it calling it an SUV. Rather, it is a “Sport Adventure Vehicle.”
When BMW brought the X5 to market in 1999, it didn’t like the “sport utility vehicle” nomenclature. So it insisted that the X5 was an SAV—a Sport Activity Vehicle.
That didn’t stick.
In customer research, Hyundai found that people—“often living in urban environments”—wanted something that they could use for stuff, whether it is stuff that they bought at REI or Home Depot. Throw and go: the bed is ready to accommodate whatever.
Again, not a whole lot of stuff, but if you’re living in an apartment in an urban setting, you don’t have a whole lot of stuff.
Hyundai makes comparisons of the Santa Cruz with pickups. When it comes to beds, there is really no comparison—the Nissan Frontier is the next shortest, at 59.4 inches.
The Santa Cruz is wider than the Frontier—75 v. 72.8 inches—and just a smidge narrower than the Toyota Tacoma, which is 75.2 inches. The Tacoma, however, is 212.2 inches long, compared with 195.7 inches for the Santa Cruz.
A comparison with a traditional pickup doesn’t really play to the potential advantages of the Santa Cruz.
Credit to Hyundai to delivering on the concept that it showed at the North American International Auto Show in 2015 in a manner that looks extremely close to the show car.