Instead, the automaker calls it a “sport adventure vehicle,” a term the company says it settled on through customer research. The Santa Cruz combines aspects of a crossover SUV — an SUV that’s engineered like a car — with a pickup truck. It has seating for as many as five people with a small cargo bed.
But for all intents and purposes, it’s a pickup. The Santa Cruz, which will be built in Hyundai’s Montgomery, Alabama, factory, is the Korean automaker’s first entry into America’s highly competitive pickup market
Big pickups are the best-selling vehicles in America. The Ford F-series, for example, has been the best-selling vehicle of any kind in the US for more than 40 years. But comparing those F-150s, Rams and Silverados to the Santa Cruz is like comparing a Bengal tiger to the housecat on your sofa.
There is ample lockable storage space within the bed and inside the cab, according to Hyundai, for those things owners don’t want left out in the open. The Santa Cruz also comes with a lockable bed cover.
The Santa Cruz will be available with either one of two gas engines, one producing over 190 horsepower and the other over 275. (More definite horsepower figures are not yet available.) With the stronger engine, it will be able to tow as much as 5,000 pounds, according to Hyundai.
Car/pickup mash-ups are far from new, of course. Some of the earliest pickups were modified Ford Model Ts. Much later, automakers offered vehicles like the Chevrolet El Camino and Ford Ranchero that were low-riding car-based trucks. In the late 20th Century, Subaru offered the tiny Brat, and a few decades later, the Baja.