The 2015 Detroit Auto Show is in full swing with one of the highlights being the Santa Cruz crossover truck concept from Hyundai
2015 Detroit Auto Show
The 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) will be open all week from nine o'clock in the morning until eleven at night (except its final day, Sunday, when doors will close at seven p.m. Show visitors passing both the highly-anticipated 2016 Acura NSX and the show-stopping 2017 Ford GT will find something less spectacular, but potentially more affordable and certainly more versatile.
Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept
Hoping to take advantage of "Urban Adventurer" Millennial buyers, Hyundai believes its latest concept will create a new niche between pickups and sport utility vehicles. It would also help Hyundai reduce its reliance on sales of the Elantra and Sonata - which now account for sixty percent of the brand's overall sales in a market currently dominated by trucks, crossovers and sport utility vehicles.
Unlike the typical Hyundai concept, the idea for the Santa Cruz originated in the U.S. (not in Korea) for buyers interested in "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."
To accomplish this, the Santa Cruze Concept is designed off a crossover platform with an overall footprint of a small CUV with a pickup-like body that features front-hinged front doors and rear-hinged rear doors. Wheel arches, roof and bed rails offer tie-down cleats for cargo, while its expandable bed can handle longer cargo with a drawer-like sliding mechanism.
Under the hood, the concept features a 2.0-liter turbo diesel that generates 190 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. Paired to Hyundai's HTRAC All-wheel drive system, the manufacturer estimates EPA fuel economy in the "high 30 mpg range."
Inside, according to Hyundai, there's seating for five (we'll have to take their word for it as no images of the interior were available and the windows were blacked out), while an integrated tonneau cover in back (it was retracted on the display model) safely stores "dirty, sweaty, wet, sandy, bulky gear" out of sight while keeping the interior clean.
Hyundai wants to bring the Santa Cruz to market, but how will it succeed where others (the Honda Ridgeline and Subaru Baja come to mind) have failed?
Some of the industry's past attempts to blend truck-bed flexibility with passenger-car attributes were limited because they didn't deliver the practical benefits the customer expected. Most tried to straddle the line by attracting traditional truck buyers with compromised products at a similar price point, failing to deliver any differentiating benefits. Santa Cruz, by design, isn't an alternative to a truck, so towing, payload and ground clearance were not primary goals. Rather, Santa Cruz is intended to attract CUV and sedan buyers who are seeking greater utility, without the compromises that traditional trucks often require.