Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup caught testing in Lapland

Byron Hurd

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Those who have been waiting (perhaps not-so) patiently for concrete signs of Hyundai's Santa Cruz reaching production, today is your day. The long-promised compact Korean pickup has been spotted in the wild. 

Hyundai first caught our attention back in 2015 when it trotted out the HCD-15 Santa Cruz concept at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The idea of a practical, compact pickup stirred up the automotive community, which has been thirsty for just that formula ever since American automakers virtually abandoned the segment after the demise of the Ford Ranger

We were told back then that Hyundai was considering a production model, but that's often the case with concepts. What are they, after all, besides a method for gauging customer interest in something new?

In this case, it appears we have proof that Hyundai intends to keep its promise. 

Unfortunately, that's about all we have. Hyundai has kept mum on the Santa Cruz's vitals, but we suspect it will follow somewhat in the footsteps of the Honda Ridgeline. Like the midsize Honda, Hyundai's concept was based on a unibody architecture. Unlike the Japanese entry, however, Santa Cruz is supposed to be on the smaller side. 

We can't really get a good sense of the pickup's scale from these shots, but we can see that Hyundai is testing a crew cab model, which stands to reason based on the competition in smaller pickup segments. Americans like space. Who knew?

Hopefully this mule means we're not too far from getting some concrete details on Hyundai's plans for the Santa Cruz, but we'll urge you to remain patient, as we don't expect a production model to hit showrooms any earlier than the 2021 model year.

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