Hyundai's first pickup truck is taking shape.
It's been more than five years since Hyundai teased a new small pickup truck concept called the Santa Cruz. But at the end of last year, the Korean automaker confirmed that a production Santa Cruz would be built at its Alabama plant. This was pretty big news because the Hyundai truck will be a true compact model, meaning it will be smaller than mid-sizers like the Chevy Colorado, Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, Jeep Gladiator, Nissan Frontier, and Toyota Tacoma. It will likely be less expensive too.
Details have been pretty scarce regarding the production model but our spy photographers have just captured images of a camouflaged prototype testing in the snow. The camouflaging covers most of the front and rear end but we can finally get an idea of the truck's size. The truck in the pictures sports a crew cab layout with a unique looking wheel design. It also appears as though Hyundai will continue its twin headlight design that began with the Kona.
Our latest intel says the Santa Cruz will be based on the same platform as the upcoming Hyundai Tucson, which will also be built in Alabama. Under the hood of the US model, the truck is expected to use Hyundai's new Theta3 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine should be offered as naturally aspirated and turbocharged variants. Europe will likely get the 1.6-liter GDI engine and 1.6-liter T-GDI and possibly a diesel engine as well. Hyundai could also surprise with a hybrid version using the same drivetrain found in the Sonata.
Since the Santa Cruz and Tucson will be based on the same platform, they are expected to share engines. We aren't sure when either vehicle will be revealed but with production slated to begin in early 2021, we'd place our predictions on late 2020 debuts.