Remember the Hyundai Santa Cruz lifestyle pickup concept from the 2015 Detroit auto show? Well ,that was a long time ago, and it no longer looks like that.
The unibody compact truck for young buyers was well-received and the automaker started work on a production model. It was even given the board’s blessing to add it to the product plan for sale in 2018 as a 2019 model. But a sales slump, the ouster of CEO Dave Zuchowski who was its champion, and a focus on other vehicles pushed Santa Cruz down the priority list.
Time has passed and the design strategy at Hyundai has changed. As the brand has matured, there is no longer the need to give every product in the lineup the same look. No more Russian dolls, says SangYup Lee, head of the Hyundai Global Design Center in Namyang, Korea. He wants new vehicles to be striking and different, forcing customers to take a closer second look at which point they discover it is a Hyundai.
It means that the Santa Cruz, a concept penned five years ago, was designed under the old family-resemblance regime. The design had to be updated, while keeping the basic look that made it popular.
The new Santa Cruz “will be a lot more distinctive” and have “a lot more character,” said Lee in an interview with MotorTrend. It is still a crossover pickup “but the look of it is a lot more progressive.” The new look has been finalized and locked in.