It's all about what's under the hood.
Hyundai is finally getting into the truck segment. The first-ever Hyundai Santa Cruz is expected to debut in the coming months. It's kind of surprising it's taken this long because the original concept version was unveiled at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. One likely reason for the multi-year gap is because the South Korean automaker has been doing its homework carefully, closely studying the competition, such as the Honda Ridgeline.
As it often does, Hyundai wants to redefine yet another segment by setting the bar even higher. We've seen prototypes testing in the wild and based on those images, some graphic designers have created some renderings. More than likely, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with around 238 horsepower will be under the hood, at least initially.
Speaking to Autocar, Hyundai's recently appointed chief creative officer, Luc Donckerwolke, admitted the Santa Cruz will likely also get an electrified powertrain. "We will have to wait to apply the powertrain but it's not far off," he said. "The future will certainly give us the opportunity to electrify it." Whether this will be an all-electric setup or a hybrid and/or plug-in hybrid remains to be seen.
Electrifying trucks, especially those with serious off-road capabilities, creates all kinds of interesting possibilities. Best example: the new GMC Hummer EV. With a battery-electric setup, EVs have instant torque available, a trait that'll come in handy for trucks in rugged conditions. Hyundai has long been developing multiple types of powertrains, including pure battery-electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell.
There's a decent chance the Santa Cruz, at the very least, will be offered with the all-new Tucson's (which it shares a platform) 1.6-liter turbo gas engine combined with a 44.2-kW electric motor and a 1.49-kWh battery pack for a combined total of around 226 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. An even bolder move would be to bypass the hybrid system and go directly to a plug-in hybrid setup.
Fortunately, the Tucson also offers this by way of a larger battery. The Tucson PHEV has an estimated all-electric driving range of 28 miles and a fuel economy in excess of 70 MPGe. Level 2 charging takes less than two hours.
We should know more about what Hyundai has in store for the Santa Cruz once it debuts later this year.