A silver 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz is shown from the front angled left.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz: Speculation and Predictions

At this point, Hyundai is getting pretty close to reaching the point a lot of other manufacturers have managed: offering something for everyone. I, and many other people, would say that the last great precipice they need to climb is also one of the most important: offering a pickup truck. While very little is officially known about the 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz, there’s just enough out there to make some semi-informed predictions and speculate pretty hard about what it will have to offer.

So today, I’m going to take a look at what we know for sure, make some pretty reasonable predictions, and consider what we might get in a year or so when we really see this thing. While there are some people out there that aren’t interested in a pickup, Hyundai has proven itself over the years to offer excellent, well-made vehicles that are incredibly safe. That means the Santa Cruz could definitely have something for a lot of people to get excited about.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept Vehicle

The idea of a Hyundai pickup and what we know as the 2021 Santa Cruz really started with a concept vehicle that they showed off a few years ago. It was at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show that Hyundai first teased us with their vision for a pickup truck, with a unique design that seemed caught somewhere between an SUV and a standard truck. What we saw had a unibody, like a car or a crossover, with a fairly compact and reserved design and a few exciting features. Since then, there wasn’t much in the way of news or revelations about a Hyundai truck, but that has changed, and we know that it will soon be a reality.

The Reality – What We Know for Sure

Sadly, what we know for sure about the 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz is incredibly minimal. That is to say, the only thing that’s been officially confirmed is that it’s actually coming and should go into production in 2021 at a Hyundai factory in Alabama. However, it’s possible that this may actually become the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz, but no delay has been announced as of yet. But that’s it – everything else, at this point, is speculation and prediction by people like me.

A close up is shown on the 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz wheel and performance caliper.

Speculation – Engines and Performance

When looking at trucks, we all want to know about the engine – it’s the heart of the pickup, after all, and just about every other aspect of performance is informed, in some way, by the engine. Rumors indicate that the 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz will share a platform with the Santa Fe, Hyundai’s popular SUV. This means there’s a pretty decent chance that it will also share engines with the Santa Fe – it’s not guaranteed, but it’s a safe place to start with speculation.

The 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe has two engines available on it, so let’s start there. The standard option is a 2.4L I-4 engine that offers 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. Then there’s an available 2.0L Turbo I-4 engine that delivers 235 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. I expect we’ll see those same two engines on the 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz, though I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they are tuned for increased performance – likely higher horsepower, and I imagine greater torque too.

An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard on the Santa Fe, so I think that’s what we’ll see on the Santa Cruz, too – with Drive Mode standard on higher trims of the Santa Cruz as it is now with the Santa Fe. The Santa Fe has front-wheel drive standard, with all-wheel drive available, and I imagine the Santa Cruz will have a similar setup. But who knows, they might surprise us and make the Santa Cruz a four-wheel drive model instead of an all-wheel drive one.

Speculation – Towing and Payload

So, while the current Santa Fe gave us some good ideas about what to expect in terms of the engine on the 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz, sadly, it’s not quite as helpful in this department. The Santa Fe is great for what it is, but it’s certainly not designed to tow a bunch.

I don’t expect the Santa Cruz will compete with heavy-duty models or even major full-size light-duty pickups out there. That being said, I imagine it will at least match the 5,000 lb towing capacity of the Honda Ridgeline. Perhaps the feature a lot of people are most interested in is the potential for an extending bed, something that was shown years ago on the concept version. If this carries over into reality, then a relatively low towing capacity and payload will be overlooked for the sake of impressive functionality and a feature you won’t find elsewhere.

A silver 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz is shown from the rear angled right.

Prediction – Safety Features

Unlike towing and payload, when it comes to safety features, I think looking at the current Santa Fe is a pretty safe bet. Hyundai tends to pride itself on offering a wealth of safety features, and I don’t expect the 2021 Santa Cruz to be the exception to this rule. So, let’s look at what the Santa Fe has going on and see how this could carry over to the future pickup.

Standard safety features on every model of the Santa Fe include a forward collision-avoidance assist system with pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, and a driver attention warning. There are also plenty of airbags inside the Santa Fe, and it has vehicle stability management and electronic stability control with traction control and brake assist. I think we’ll see all of these things as standard safety features on the 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz too.

Available options on the Santa Fe include a blind-spot collision-avoidance assist feature, a rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist system, and a parking distance warning when you’re in reverse. There’s also an available safe exit assist feature that Hyundai is quite proud of, which warns you and can even lock child-safety doors if a vehicle is approaching from the rear when you’re getting out. These are all standard starting on the second trim for the Santa Fe – so I imagine they will either be readily available on the Santa Cruz, or they might be standard on all models just to make the brand-new truck really shine.

Prediction – Interior Features

Once again, I think the Santa Fe can inform us of what to expect inside the 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz. That means either a standard or an available 8-way power driver seat, and probably an available 8-way power front passenger seat. I expect that cloth seating will be the standard option, with leather seating standard on higher trims and potentially optional on lower trims.

While a 7-inch Infotainment display is standard on the Santa Fe, I feel like we could see an 8-inch screen standard on the Santa Cruz just to make it stand out a bit more. There’s an available 12-speaker audio system for the Santa Fe, but I’m not sure there’s room for all of those speakers in the Santa Cruz, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see something slightly downscaled for the pickup. Similarly, I think a head-up display, wireless charging pad, and leather details throughout the interior are all safe bets as available options to be found in higher trims.

Want to Know More?

We are so excited to see what Hyundai is planning with this new pickup truck coming to their lineup. It will be interesting to see what other models this truck will be in direct competition with and what the overall impact of Hyundai having a truck model will be. We look forward to sharing more information on the 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz as it becomes available.