The timeline hasn’t changed, but it’s looking more and more definite for 2020 arrival.
When last we checked in on it, the Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup was still at least two years away from arriving in US showrooms. Now we’re hearing again that 2020 is looking like the year we finally get a small pickup truck from Hyundai. It was confirmed for production a year ago, and this spring Brian Smith, COO of Hyundai Motor America told Motor Trend that they love it and talk about it all the time like some high-school crush.
But this is no spring fling and now it sounds like the engagement is official as Hyundai Motor America CEO Kyung Soo “Ken” Lee confirmed to the Detroit Bureau that Hyundai plans to “launch it in the US market in 2020” or soon after. Lee would not reveal anything more substantial about the design other than that it targets a younger generation that still like to carry “stuff” around in their vehicles. By "stuff" I assume they mean more than their smartphones and Uglydolls.
The big questions that remain are how big it will be and what will it look like. Will Hyundai follow the established mid-size market and try to offer Santa Fe–based alternative to the Toyota Tacoma, Chevy Colorado, and Nissan Frontier? Or will they try to undercut them in size and price with a smaller, more affordable Tucson-based pickup that is unique? Will it be as daring as the concept or a box on a Santa Fe or Tucson front end?
While there’s an established market for midsize trucks, it’s already crowded and about to get more crowded with the upcoming Ford Ranger, and Honda is struggling to make any headway with their light-duty, crossover-based Ridgeline. Taking a chance on something even smaller seems like the only way to stand out, but it’s a big risk that Hyundai might not want to take.
Years ago there was speculation that the Santa Cruz would breed a hardcore Ranger Raptor–fighter that would never reach North America. But now that the Ranger Raptor is essentially a lock to tear it up on our continent, perhaps Hyundai can finally fulfill the dreams of a hardcore off-roader that they’ve always harbored, and any off-road bits can be shared with a future large off-road SUV that Australia is clamouring for.