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Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept Unveiled

Business in the Front, Party in the Back - Bringing Back The Mullet of the Car World

The honor of strangest but interesting vehicle at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit has to go to the Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck concept. We know what you’re thinking and no, we haven’t lost our minds. There is no doubt in our mind that this whacky modern version of something in between a Subaru Brat or Chevy El Camino is not a true off-roader in any way, shape or form. It is however a rather interesting vehicle that seems like it would be more at home in the land down under rather than Detroit. On second thought, what better place to unveil a different class of vehicle than the Motor City itself?

While the general shape of the Hyundai Santa Cruz brings back haunting memories of unsightly mullets, this is a different kind of business in the front, party in the back type of truck. Hyundai says this fresh concept reflects a completely new interpretation of truck utility for a new generation of buyers, specifically Millennials, who represent the second-largest population of car buyers.

Hyundai believes that young adults face tighter parking in urban areas and as such are looking for a crossover vehicle between a comfortable car and a utilitarian truck. Hyundai calls this class of car buyers, Urban Adventurers. Whether it’s loading up friends and firewood for a bonfire at the beach, coaching the youth soccer team, volunteering for a community restoration project, or a quick drop-off at the local recycling center, they need a vehicle versatile enough to accommodate both passengers and gear, while being efficient enough to fit into their unique urban lifestyle. In other words, what some wheelers might call a yuppie mobile.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Concept Truck doesn’t focus on all the same attributes as traditional pickups. Instead it focuses on desires for expression, efficiency and maneuverability. Hyundai designers created a bold design that conveys this lifestyle, with a wide, sure-footed stance and an aggressive side-profile rake. The front view features an upright, hexagonal grille with cascading lines framing the sides, dual lens-free, honeycombed headlamp projectors, and prominent LED fog lamps. The side profile is highlighted by oversized wheels wrapped in Michelin rubber with a special tread design, center-locking hubs and yellow Brembo brake calipers.  

For ease of access to the rear seats, the Santa Cruz features clam shell rear-doors which integrate seamlessly with the front door design. The wheel arches, roof, and bed rails offer tie-down cleats for securing cargo of all shapes and sizes while a expandable bed can be easily reconfigured using a unique drawer-like sliding function for larger items such as surfoards, snowboards, mountain bikes and even motorcycles.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo diesel engine that delivers 190 hp and 300 kb-ft of torque, while achieving a fuel economy in the high 30 mpg range. The Santa Cruz also offers Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system, so you can head to the mountains after a storm and hit the fresh powder slopes.

The Santa Cruz concept is purposefully compact but despite it’s small proportions, it has four doors and seating for five. One cool feature is that it comes with an integrated, rigid tonneau cover that can retract when not in use. It keeps items safe and out of sight while also keeping the interior clean and uncluttered. While the Santa Cruz won’t be replacing pickup trucks from job sites anytime soon, it does offer a viable vehicle for someone who only needs to carry a few power and hand tools to a the job site every day.  

Santa Cruz, by design, isn’t an alternative to a truck, which explains why towing, payload and ground clearance were not the primary goals of this concept. Rather, Santa Cruz is intended to attract crossover utility vehicle (CUV) and sedan buyers who want more utility and cargo capacity but aren’t ready to drive a big boy pickup truck with all their added weight, size and fuel economy penalties.

One thing’s for sure, the hipster crowd is not likely to shave their neatly groomed beards and grow a mullet after getting behind the wheel of this new crossover truck concept!