Hyundai’s on-again, off-again pickup truck’s fate is sealed. The South Korean company confirmed it will build the model in Montgomery, Alabama, starting in 2021, meaning sales will likely begin during the 2022 model year.
We caught our first glimpse of the model when Hyundai presented the Santa Cruz concept (pictured) during the 2015 edition of the Detroit Auto Show. The design study wore a muscular-looking front end characterized by an upright rendition of the company’s then-current waterfall grille and swept-back headlights. It came with a pair of front-hinged front doors, an additional pair of smaller rear-hinged rear doors, and a huge tailgate.
It’s reasonable to assume its styling has evolved considerably over the past four years. Hyundai’s team of stylists took the company’s design language in a different direction, one that has spawned head-turning models like the new 2020 Sonata. Regardless of what it looks like, it sounds like the truck will cater to adventure-seeking buyers who need a rugged commuter they can hit the trails with on the weekend. It won’t replace your utility company’s Ford F-550.
As you’d expect considering the timeline, several key questions about Hyundai’s first America-bound pickup remain unanswered. We don’t know if it will arrive as a body-on-frame model, like the Ford F-150 and the Ram 1500, or if it will follow the Honda Ridgeline into unibody territory. The body-on-frame layout would increase its off-road capacity, and allow it to tow more, at the expensive of comfort and fuel economy. The unibody solution would give it a more car-like ride.
Inaugurated in 2005, Hyundai’s Alabama factory currently manufactures the aforementioned Sonata, the Elantra, and the Santa Fe for the American market. It doesn’t sound like the Santa Cruz will kick one of those models out of the plant. The firm will instead invest $410 million into expanding the facility by increasing the size of the stamping, welding, parts processing, and manufacturing departments. The expansion will create 200 direct jobs, and about 1,000 indirect jobs.
2021 is closer than it sounds, so Hyundai will release additional information about the truck in the coming months. It might also unveil a new concept to hint at how the Santa Cruz has evolved since we first saw it in 2015.