DETROIT — A sedan's trunk won't fit an antique dresser, but a crowded city parking lane won't fit a pickup.
That's the dilemma Hyundai Motor Co. would like to solve with the crossover truck concept it's calling the Santa Cruz. Unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the vehicle was designed as a truck for city dwellers, fitting a separated, composite-surfaced cargo bed and seating for five within dimensions similar to a small crossover utility vehicle.
The concept is aimed at a new generation of vehicle buyers — Hyundai has named them “urban adventurers” — who occasionally haul large or dirty loads, but who don't need the towing and payload capability of a full-sized truck. Straddling the line between pickup and SUV, the Santa Cruz is Hyundai's take on a market gap tackled previously by vehicles like the discontinued Subaru Baja.
Hyundai has not yet committed to building the Santa Cruz, but in press interviews seemed eager to fast-track production should consumer reception be positive.
The Santa Cruz's cargo bed provides room to stash firewood or athletic gear while keeping the interior clean, and it slides out like a drawer to accommodate even larger cargo. A retractable tonneau cover keeps gear out of the weather.
“Whether today's activity is pitching in on a community volunteer project or loading mountain bikes for a trip to the trails, all of their dirty, wet, sandy and bulky gear stays in the back, separated from the passenger compartment,” said Mark Dipko, director of corporate planning at Hyundai Motor America.
Including a tailgate extension, the available bed length is similar to that of a midsize pickup, Hyundai says.
Hyundai did not disclose the specific materials used for the concept. The bed appears to be a composite material, a choice gaining popularity because of the material's resistance to dents and rust.