Just don't call it a pickup truck.
Pickup trucks continue to improve and become more refined with each passing year, but they also keep getting larger and more difficult to park. Even the so-called "mid-size" segment with options like the Ford Ranger and Toyota Tacoma are larger than most urban drivers can use. The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz looks to shake up the market with a genuinely tiny vehicle equipped with a bed. We stopped short of calling the Santa Cruz a pickup because Hyundai would prefer people call it a "Sport Adventure Vehicle."
Hyundai will offer the Santa Cruz with two engine options, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder producing 190 horsepower and a turbocharged variant developing a more substantial 275 hp. The latter should prove adequate for most buyers with 310 lb-ft of torque, enabling a 5,000-pound towing capacity using the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. But what if Hyundai took it a step further with a sporty N variant?
CarBuzz reached out to Hyundai senior manager of product and advanced powertrain, Derek Joyce, who declined to comment on a potential Santa Cruz N model. But Hyundai previously promised that its N and N Line portfolio would expand to 18 models by 2022. It's doubtful that any of these 18 planned models include the Santa Cruz, but we think the idea has some merit.
We imagined what a Santa Cruz N could look like, using the Veloster N's color scheme. The Santa Cruz lends nicely to the N treatment with its unique headlight and grille design and generally aggressive fascia. We then added some sportier wheels, red brake calipers, black mirror caps, a vented hood, and an N badge for good measure. We think the tiny SAV looks fantastic finished in Hyundai N's signature Performance Blue with sporty red accents on the lower portions.
So, what will power the Santa Cruz N? The Veloster N and Kona N each use a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is smaller and less torquey than the 2.5T unit in the Santa Cruz. It wouldn't make sense for this engine to appear here, so Hyundai would likely need to tune the 2.5T to produce a higher output. In models like the Sonata N-Line and Kia K5 GT, it produces 290 hp, while the Genesis version produces 300 hp. So expect something similar for the Santa Cruz N.
Inside, the Santa Cruz has a techy cabin, but Hyundai could dress it up a bit with some N bits, such as blue stitching, more aggressive seats, a different shifter, and a head-up display. Even if Hyundai doesn't go so far as to build a Santa Cruz N, perhaps it will introduce a sporty appearance package like the Tucson N Line. There is no pricing available on the Santa Cruz but we expect it to range between $25,000 to $35,000. If the N model could slot in around $40,000, it would be a tremendous value.