The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has been officially revealed – though it won't come to Australia, as it won't be built in right-hand drive.
Unveiled by Hyundai's US arm overnight, the Santa Cruz is pitched as a more lifestyle-oriented, less hardcore alternative to conventional body-on-frame pick-ups including the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado and Navara-sized Nissan Frontier, thanks to underpinnings shared with the Hyundai Tucson mid-size SUV.
While it lacks the off-road prowess, 3.5-tonne towing capacity and one-tonne payload of Australia's best-selling dual-cabs, the Santa Cruz offers class-leading, car-like interior technologies, and a range of punchy petrol engines, all wrapped in butch dual-cab, short-bed bodywork.
Loosely inspired by the Santa Cruz concept of 2015, the production ute mixes its Tucson donor's creased styling cues – including the carry-over front grille with integrated LED headlights, and similar lower front bumper and door designs – with a bespoke rear end comprising a small tray and T-shaped tail-lights. 'SANTA CRUZ' is embossed into the tailgate, while a 'sail plane' style sports bar has been integrated into the roofline.
Hyundai doesn’t quote a payload figure for the Santa Cruz's 1320mm tray, though it does feature external steps to aid entry and exit, and a hidden storage compartment beneath the tub liner, with a rolling lockable tonneau cover to be made available at a later date.
Inside, the Santa Cruz's cabin borrows heavily from the SUV on which it's based, with a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available on flagship models.
Powering the Santa Cruz is a choice of two four-cylinder petrol engines: a 142kW/244Nm 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated unit, or a 205kW/420Nm 2.5-litre turbocharged mill.
Both send drive to the tarmac or dirt through eight-speed automatic transmissions (though the turbo engine’s is a dual-clutch) and all-wheel-drive systems.
Alloy wheels between 18 and 20 inches in diameter are available. Towing capacity is rated at 1588kg for the naturally-aspirated engine, and 2268kg for the turbo four-pot.
The Santa Cruz measures 4971mm long, 1905mm wide and 1694mm high, riding on a 3005mm wheelbase. For context, a Toyota HiLux SR5 dual-cab measures 5325mm long and 1855mm wide, with a 3085mm wheelbase.
Available safety features include autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention monitoring, the Blind-Spot Monitor, a 360-degree camera, and Safe Exit Assist.
A spokesperson for Hyundai Australia told CarAdvice: "Santa Cruz will launch globally in [left-hand-drive] only, hence it will not be available for the Australian market."
"We expressed interest in Santa Cruz, and believe it could carve out a niche in the Australian market, but with production coming from our Alabama plant the business case for development of right hand drive wasn’t practicable."
The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz will enter production in the US in June 2021.