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Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Concept revealed in Detroit

Hyundai has revealed the Santa Cruz Pickup Concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The concept showcases a fresh take on utility vehicles “for a new generation of buyers”.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Concept exterior

Hyundai says the Santa Cruz Pickup doesn’t focus on the traditional aspects of utility vehicles, instead it is designed to appeal to urban adventurers and “meet more of their desires for expression, efficiency and manoeuvrability”. Although the concept looks compact, it still features enough seats for five passengers and uses a similar footprint to a typical crossover.

From the front, the Pickup features an upright, hexagonal grille with cascading lines framing the sides, lens-free honeycombed headlamp projectors, and prominent LED fog lamps. The ‘oversized’ wheels are wrapped with Michelin tyres that feature a special tread design, and feature centre locking hubs.

To make access to the rear seats easier, Hyundai has ditched the conventional front hinge design and moved them to the rear so that both doors open outwards from one another. In terms of carrying cargo, there are tie-down cleats located on the wheel arches, bed rails, and roof, and the cargo bed can be extended via a drawer-like sliding function to help fit everything from surfboards to mountain bikes.

Under the bonnet of the concept is an “environmentally-friendly” 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine that produces 142kW and 402Nm. Power is fed through Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system. Mark Dipko, director, corporate planning, Hyundai Motor America, said,

“The Santa Cruz Pickup concept meets the unspoken needs of a growing Millennial lifestyle we call ‘urban adventurers’. This new crossover allows them all the expandable utility they need throughout their active week, from work-life professionalism, to social interests, to a whole variety of outdoor pursuits, without the typical compromises they have come to expect from the industry’s current product offerings.”

Hyundai says at this stage the vehicle is “pure concept only”, with no plans to push it into production. However, Hyundai Australia’s chief operating officer John Elsworth stated that a tough, good-looking Hyundai ute would be popular with Australians. He said,

“But this is a concept vehicle and we do not make decisions about which cars to bring to market – those decisions are in the hands of our parent company in Korea. However we’ve made our enthusiasm for a ute very clear – it surely has enormous potential – and we look forward to seeing how things progress in the near future.”

Josh was one of the original co-founders of PerformanceDrive. His expertise is car culture and aftermarket performance. He was the editor at Hot4s Magazine for a few years, and has since worked at Fast Fours, Zoom, and as a journalist for The Project Group.