We’ve seen it in concept form, and it’s been spied during testing. Now, we’ve had our gun artists render the upcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz, the car-based ute set to be built in the USA from next year.
So far, it’s not been locked in for Australia. As a product of Hyundai USA, the Santa Cruz will only be left-hand drive to start with, which leaves it off the table for our market.
A Hyundai Australia spokesperson has previously told CarExpert the company is “interested in that vehicle for sure”, provided it’s eventually made available in right-hand drive.
There is some hope it’ll eventually be available in Australia. After all, the eight-seat Palisade SUV was initially ruled out for the same reason, but is due Down Under late this year.
As you can see from our render, the Santa Cruz will feature a prominent grille and integrated daytime running lights, below which sit the indicators and main beam headlamps.
The front bumper very car-like compared to the crop of dual-cab utes offered in Australia, while the tray looks to be integrated with the body through a sloping sail panel.
It’s expected to be powered by a range of four-cylinder petrol engines, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
Its most logical competitor in the USA is the unibody Honda Ridgeline, however the Santa Cruz is expected to be smaller.
Despite lagging behind the likes of Chevrolet and Ford in sales, the Ridgeline has a passionate following among owners who love its car-like driving experience and cabin.
The other pickup-related issue to explore with Hyundai is the latest on its long-awaited, begged-for, and likely green-lit body-on-frame dual-cab to tackle the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger.
This is the product Hyundai Australia needs if it wants to eclipse Mazda and take second spot on the charts behind Toyota. Without a dual cab it’s missing out on almost 20 per cent of the local market.
When it arrives, the Hyundai ute is expected to be a proper workhorse to take on the Ranger and HiLux.
Speaking in 2019, then-Hyundai Australia boss J.W Lee told media the company has sent researchers to Australia and other south-east Asian markets to research what’s required of a dual-cab ute.
The vehicle’s exact capabilities haven’t yet been confirmed, but expect a payload of around a tonne and a braked towing capacity of around 3500kg – any less would put the new ute at a disadvantage compared to its rivals.
Do you like the idea of a car-based ute like the Hyundai Santa Cruz?