The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is too good looking for it to be called a pick-up truck!
When Hyundai planted the idea to the world that they were going to build a pickup truck, everyone was a bit skeptical of the South Korean's ability to do so, especially when this was clearly a grey area for them.
In 2015, however, Hyundai showed the world that they were serious about it and previewed a concept truck at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, wowing the media as well as the world.
Named after one of the coolest spots in California, the Santa Cruz pick-up shocked everyone, it was not what people had come to expect from a pickup truck. The Santa Cruz concept car was part crossover, part pickup truck, a little like the legendary Chevrolet El Camino, but sexier. With a sleek slopping coupe-esque roofline, it was definitely something we had never come across before, well, in a pick-up truck anyway!
Since that concept car debut, for years, no one was quite sure if Hyundai would proceed with the project, especially when the concept car quite left-field, but in April 2021, Hyundai premiered the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz to the world, and surprisingly not only stuck to its original concept but added a couple more doors at the rear and tweaked its looks a little bit. It has just recently started production at Hyundai's American Alabama plant and looks every bit as sexy as its concept vehicle, if not more.
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz is a pickup with a difference, especially because it doesn't utilise a body-on-frame construction. Rather, and in case you couldn't tell from that distinctive fascia, it's built using the more commonly found unibody chassis due to its close relation to the new 4th-generation Hyundai Tuscon (NX4), though the wheelbase has been considerably lengthened to 3,005mm and an overall length of 4,971mm.
But this truck is no pushover or crossover for that matter, it's just something else. Its broad overfenders, angular exterior cues, pronounced skid plate, and chunky-looking 20-inch alloys all fit the part of a rugged machine, but somehow in this ruggedness, it has some of that sex appeal in the form of a sexy roofline as well as very futuristic front fascia.
It's a blend of all sorts of things. Its front is sharp like a supercar but square like a truck, its shoulder line is hunky yet sleek and its rear is just...well actually, its rear is just so-so. If it was a man, it would be Brad Pitt, that perfect combination of rugged yet dashingly good looks with a touch of suave.
It's the truck for the metrosexual man!
The base spec 2022 Santa Cruz, debuted with Hyundai's 2.5-litre Smartstream naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine identical to the one fitted in the Hyundai Sonata. This produces 194PS and 245Nm and is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The engine is very smooth, one of the smoothest 4-cylinders we have experienced.
Then there's the top-spec 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz with an upgraded engine that features a turbocharged 2.5-liter with more than 275 horses. It's also mated to an eight-speed transmission, and there is an option to partner the engine to a dual-clutch gearbox. No matter how much this powertrain sounds like fun, it still doesn't project a workhorse type setup, it's more of a setup for a man who just wants to be smooth in front of the ladies.
What would have been a more suitable engine option for the Santa Cruz is of course Hyundai's lovely 2.2-litre CRDi diesel mill, found in the Santa Fe and Starex, but that's just too Jason Statham.
The debut setup does draw a deep line in the sand about where this new model's priorities lie. The automaker themselves market it as a Sport Adventure Vehicle, à la BMW. It can do some off-road rough-and-tumble stuff, with a little bit of payload carrying capability, perfect for the lifestyle man who cycles in the morning and does yoga at night. A start-up founder perhaps?
With a maximum truck bed length of 52.1 inches, it can probably take tall things better than longer things. A bicycle is approximately 68 inches in length, so you'd be stuck if you wanted to carry it flat on the truck bed, but you know, these lifestyle men like accessories, so a bicycle truck bed mount could be ordered to match the truck.
The Inside also reflects this, inheriting the unaltered crossover-centric cabin from the Hyundai Tucson. Leather seats, a digital instrument cluster, and high-quality finishings litter the surroundings. It really does look and feel like a spaceship in there. The beautiful man would feel comfortable jumping from this to his posh hipster barber with Sweeney Todd type chairs.
Hyundai even throws in most of their SmartSense active safety features including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Lane Keep Assist, and Driver Attention Warning, because you know, the beautiful man usually surrounds himself with the latest tech.
There's no word yet if the South Korean automaker is even interested in lobbing this new model to Southeast Asia. Even more cruelly, they're even denying the 2022 Santa Cruz to Australian buyers. We can't understand this because this would be the best market for this demi-truck.
The beautiful man in Malaysia are all up for small and cute little utilitarian-type things, just look at the noise they made when Suzuki in Malaysia brought in the Swift instead of the Jimny. They just want cute little rugged things. A bit like them, perhaps? Tough yet sensitive?
Instead, it's marketed for North America, where big burly trucks such as the Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra are kings.
Would you buy one if it was available here? Aren't most Malaysians all up for lifestyle trucks anyways?
Wants to live the simple life, especially when it comes to cars and bikes. That's what tech is for he reckons, to make motoring simpler