One of the most alluring concept vehicles unveiled at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show was the Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept.
While the idea of a crossover pickup truck isn’t entirely new as Honda and Subaru have both built recent examples, the Santa Cruz Concept explores the idea in a more dramatic way.
Designed for “Urban Adventurers”, says Hyundai, the Santa Cruz Concept offers two rows of seating in a body style that says sports coupe in its roofline and off-roader in its stance.
Rear hinged auxiliary doors allow access to its rear seat which can accommodate three across. The rear cargo box can be extended with a sliding bed extender for larger and longer items.
While it looks larger than life, Hyundai says the Santa Cruz is similar in foot print to a compact SUV such as the Santa Fe, which a production version would likely be based upon.
Citing modern urbanization and the need for more maneuverability and parking ease in denser population centers, Hyundai believes that a crossover pickup truck like the Santa Cruz offers a balance that traditional pickups don’t.
Based on a crossover chassis, the driving dynamics and fuel efficiency would be similar to contemporary crossover SUV’s while offering the ability to tackle weekend projects and the adventures of the city or suburbia better.
And diving into a new arena, Hyundai outfitted the Santa Cruz Concept with a 2.0-liter turbo diesel engine good for 190 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. Hyundai says it can achieve fuel economy in the high 30 mpg ranges.
This is an interesting appearance, signaling that Hyundai may be looking to bring diesel engines to our market for crossovers or a potential production version of the Santa Cruz Concept.
While the Santa Cruz Concept is a fair distance in its execution from a production intent vehicle, it shows some of the design language that Hyundai is likely working with for future vehicles.
Familiar Hyundai facial features are prominent but with a more artistic interpretation with a sportier set of lines all around, particularly down the side flanks.
Suggesting Hyundai is seriously considering a vehicle like this for production is their assertion that it isn’t a replacement for a pickup, but an offering to crossover buyers looking for additional flexibility for occasional cargo carrying.
Hyundai says their research shows not everyone who wants a pickup truck’s capability wants the tradeoffs of expense, fuel efficiency and driving dynamics they bring.
Should a Santa Cruz come to market it would likely be available with naturally aspirated and turbocharged gasoline engines. A turbo-diesel option would be a great way to expand its reach given the white space nature of it to begin with.