Here’s the Unibody 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Towing A Real Load

Yes, it can do real truck things.

Forget the new Toyota Supra or the mid-engine Corvette for a second. One of the biggest “Will they, won’t they?” stories in Car World over the past few years has actually been Hyundai’s entry into the pickup truck game. The Hyundai Santa Cruz concept made big waves when it debuted in 2015, and it took four more years before we even knew it was greenlit for production. 

Now we know it finally is on its way (built in Alabama, too) and it will eschew a traditional body-on-frame truck setup for unibody construction after all. That’s a big gamble on Hyundai’s part—the only other major North American example is the Honda Ridgeline, and while it’s more capable than people think, it isn’t exactly poised to dethrone the F-150 anytime soon.

Unibody trucks have a strong stigma around them, but they’re tougher than people think. And this analysis of spy shots from our friends at The Fast Lane Truck shows that the upcoming Santa Cruz can pull its weight. 

The video shows the Santa Cruz—which is based on the Santa Fe crossover platform—towing a trailer speculated to weigh about 3,500 pounds. In other videos, it’s seen towing a two-axle trailer carrying a water tank that could be around 5,000 pounds. That’s about the max tow rating on the V6 Ridgeline, so if this is true, that’s clearly where Hyundai will be aiming this thing.

Granted, a body-on-frame truck like a Toyota Tacoma (probably the closest competitor here that’s a traditional truck) can tow a maximum of 6,800 pounds in two-wheel-drive, V6 form. Still, the car-based Santa Cruz will almost certainly have better road manners, ride quality and day-to-day livability than many traditional trucks. And besides towing, it could be an ideal vehicle for anyone who needs something with a bed, but is still civilized enough to drive daily. 

TFLTruck speculates that the Santa Cruz will be offered with a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine rated at 235 horsepower, although it could pack other motor options. Hyundai’s 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four, meanwhile, may not cut it for towing duty. Other reports speculate the Santa Cruz could pack the 3.8-liter V6 from the Palisade, rated at 291 horsepower. There will probably be a diesel version, too, just not for the U.S. market.

Unibody construction makes more sense for midsize trucks than many people realize (Jalopnik

had a good article about this a few years ago) but they still face stigma from people who don’t think they’re “real” trucks. But the fact is, for most buyers and their day-to-day truck needs, the Santa Cruz will probably get the job done better than they think.

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