2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup: This Is Kinda It

Here’s our first real look at the four-door Hyundai truck sporting a unibody design.

@cars_secret on Instagram

Hyundai's Santa Cruz pickup isn't slated to hit the market until 2021, but waiting til next year to see the final product is something you needn't do. Thanks to a Middle-Eastern Instagrammer, we have at last gotten our first look at an undisguised—if only partially complete—Hyundai truck.

A photo shared by Instagram account @cars_secrets depicts the upcoming pickup's unibody, which the poster says will share underpinnings with the compact Tucson crossover. This echoes a previous report that alleged the same, though it's not all old info here—the leakster claims that the Santa Cruz will be primarily front-drive, and that all-wheel drive will either be part-time or optional, though the translation is too rough to be sure which is more accurate.

Styling-wise, the Santa Cruz resembles the Nissan Frontier's foreign counterpart the Navara, though being a unibody truck, it has more in common with a Honda Ridgeline than it does any other competitor. Hyundai has so far been careful to label its Santa Cruz concept vehicles as "crossover trucks" instead of pickups, likely hoping to avoid incensing truck fans for whom it's body-on-frame or nothing. Think of the Santa Cruz, then, as something like a modern Subaru Baja. Unlike the Subie, which never evolved a go-fast STI derivative, rumor has it a high-performance Santa Cruz could be in the works, potentially one borrowing parts from a 340-horsepower Tucson N performance crossover.

As the Tucson N is said to be capable of catapulting from a standstill to 60 mph in under six seconds, it stands to reason that the as-of-yet hypothetical Santa Cruz N would be capable of similar. It's unclear which powertrain will propel the Tucson N, though the supposed step up to 340 horse might be a lot to ask of the 2.0-liter, 275-horsepower "Theta II" powering the Veloster N. Just speculation on our part, but the turbocharged 2.3-liter said to power the mid-engined Hyundai prototype spotted in March seems like a good fit.

If a Santa Cruz N is to happen—and Hyundai hasn't said it won't—don't expect it to be the first variant to roll off the line in Montgomery, Alabama where the Santa Cruz will be built. Expect more pedestrian models to take priority, as Hyundai says the Santa Cruz will be how it targets a "new generation of buyers, especially Millennials."

Speaking as a Millennial, I'm down for a cheap, utilitarian vehicle, and as an automotive journalist who just spent the last 15 minutes daydreaming about a Santa Cruz N, I'm down as heck for it to have up to 340 horse. Don't disappoint me, Hyundai.

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