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Is this a preview of Hyundai’s Aussie dual-cab ute?

Hyundai reveals the first look at an all-new model, the Santa Cruz ute.

Hyundai has unveiled its Santa Cruz ute, a recreational monocoque chassis ute for the North American market.

We know that Hyundai Australia won’t be bringing it here anytime soon, and that’s likely on account of it being produced in the USA in left-hand drive only, for now. But that’s doesn’t mean Australia will miss out entirely…

As Hyundai and its sibling Kia have been telling us for a while now, there is apparently a dual-cab ute in the works that will sit on a ladder-frame chassis and bring competitive figures. In fact, a spokesperson for Hyundai Australia told us: “As much as we can we’re trying to convince the head office that we need a certain type of pickup, that we need a certain type of powertrain, we need the vehicle to be competitive in all sorts of different ways and we’ve been putting submissions through to head office on what the vehicle needs to be for probably a decade.”

There have been some renders over the last few years on what it would look like. We were inspired by the Santa Fe and have not been the only one. But perhaps this Santa Cruz is a better indication of what might come.

For the real car which will be produced in Alabama from June, the Santa Cruz draws styling inspiration from the new Tucson SUV upfront, using a full-width front grille with distinctive daytime-running lights. At the rear, the Santa Cruz has new horizontal T-shaped light clusters which are new to Hyundai. It also has SANTA CRUZ stamped into the metalwork on the tailgate.

There is a degree of ruggedness to it, too, and that fits in with the aspirational adventure lifestyle market that Hyundai is going for. It isn’t really a tough work truck, though the 2.0-litre petrol in turbo from producing 205kW and 420Nm for a 2300kg braked towing capacity isn’t bad. 

But an Aussie version will need to be (and likely will be) much different to compete against the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-Max et al. It will need a longer wheelbase, diesel motor – rumoured to be the 2.2-litre and perhaps the Genesis 3.0-litre diesel turbo six – plus a ladder-frame chassis with bigger, tougher rear tray. The question is will the styling be like this, with Tucson style front end and the new T-light rear with stamped nameplate across the back? It might be quite the package.


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Robert Ryder
Robert Ryder
1 month ago

I don’t want an overly rugged dual cab like all the rest. I want that.

Alex Rae

Alex Rae