I've been pestering companies to make a useful, small truck every chance I get. Almost every time, I'm pretty much told I'm an idiot. Even Hyundai told me that. But this new Santa Cruz concept is pretty much a small truck, and I think it's great.
It's not just that it's a small truck — it's even better in that the car this resembles more than anything is the venerable Subaru Brat, a car/truck I've always loved. And, like the BRAT, it seats more than two — the Santa Cruz can seat five. Even better than the BRAT, those extra passengers have the intense luxury of sitting inside, not in terrifying in-bed seating with motorcycle handgrips.
The only engine option mentioned so far sounds pretty good to me: a 2L turbodiesel four making 190HP/300 lb-ft of torque. And while Hyundai hasn't said anything about price, they did make a big deal about how modern pickup trucks were averaging around $40,000 — too expensive for many, many people.
Hyundai says the car is for "urban adventurers" and people with a "pioneering spirit" and while those words are likely to make you decorate that new rugged truck bed with a Jackson Pollack-like spray of vomit, the actual intent of the vehicle is dead-on. I can think of many, many people who would love a 5-passenger car that can take a lawnmower or big filthy bags of dirt or a sharp, pointy, rusty metal sculpture without turning the inside of your SUV into something that looks like Groundskeeper Willie's sex dungeon.
On a personal note, this is exactly the kind of vehicle I've been wanting for a long time. I sometimes build big, cumbersome things, and I used to keep an old Isuzu truck around just to haul them — the Santa Cruz would let me haul and carry my family in reasonable safety and comfort.
There's all manner of tie-downs in the bed and even in the wheel wells for really bulky items, and the bed itself extends out, drawer-like, to accommodate larger cargo. If all this utility, along with the pretty striking and modern good looks can actually make it to production, I think Hyundai would have a surprise winner on its hands.
I actually think I'm more excited by this concept than the Ford GT, which is both the most insane and most rational thing I've ever thought, simultaneously. I really hope Hyundai can bring this thing to market as close as possible to the concept. I guess we'll see.
My fingers are crossed.