After a lengthy buildup, the Hyundai Santa Cruz finally debuted to the world on April 15. We’re still getting to know the small pickup truck, from its five-seater configuration to the small bed at the back. It arrives at a time when the US market is hungrier than ever for trucks, though curiously, Hyundai chooses not to call the Santa Cruz a pickup. Rather, it’s called a “Sport Adventure Vehicle,” and we think we know why.
For starters, its unibody construction with a one-piece design doesn’t follow traditional pickup truck construction. And while there is an open bed at the back, it’s quite small at just over four feet long. That space is interrupted even more with the optional tonneau cover, and there’s no fold-down access to the interior so picking up lumber from the local hardware store is probably easier done with a Tucson SUV, or possibly even a Veloster.
That got us thinking about what trucks used to be. Once upon a time, even compact pickup trucks offered large cargo capability because hey, that was the whole point of a pickup truck. As such, we reimagined the new Santa Cruz not as Hyundai’s new Sport Adventure Vehicle, but as a two-door, two-seater pickup with a proper bed in which to do truck stuff.
Our unofficial renderings keep the overall Santa Cruz styling intact, but with the rear seat gone, our cargo bed stretches to the 6.5-foot industry standard for full-size pickups. With the gate folded down and Hyundai’s bed extender option in place, you’re hauling 4’x8′ sheets of plywood just like the big boys do. You also don’t need to sling your mountain bike over the tailgate as Hyundai depicts in its official Santa Cruz press photos.
We wonder if there’s an unserved niche in the small truck segment that could be filled here. Admittedly, a two-seater vehicle doesn’t fit well with modern buyers seeking a single vehicle to do everything, but hey, that’s a role left for the four-door Santa Cruz, or any of the billions of SUVs currently flooding the roadways of the world.
It’s a stylish SUV alternative for people who want truck capability but don’t want a traditional truck. Are we crazy here? We can’t be the only ones interested in something like this.
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