US-built 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup truck teased ahead of Apr. 15 debut

If you can’t beat ’em, build pickup trucks to join ’em. That’s what Hyundai is doing with its Santa Cruz pickup truck, previewed in 2015 by a concept of the same name and confirmed on Wednesday for a debut on April 15.

The 2022 Santa Cruz will be built at Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, Alabama, from this summer, meaning the first examples should be in showrooms before the year is out.

Hyundai will spend $410 million in upgrades at the plant to support the Santa Cruz and add 200 direct jobs in the process. The flow-on effect at suppliers and logistics companies is expected to add a further 1,000 jobs in the region.

The Montgomery plant is where the Elantra, Sonata, Santa Fe and new 2022 Tucson are bolted together, with the Tucson in particular expected to lend its underpinnings to the Santa Cruz. This means we’re looking at car-like unibody construction (as opposed to truck-like body-on-frame construction). Honda does the same for its Ridgeline pickup which is related to the Pilot crossover, and Ford also has a small, car-based pickup coming to be called a Maverick.

A unibody platform for the Santa Cruz would come as little surprise as Hyundai said at the reveal of the Santa Cruz concept that the vehicle wasn’t an alternative to traditional pickup trucks, as it didn’t prioritize towing, payload, or ground clearance. Rather, Hyundai said it wants to appeal to crossover buyers who want the extra utility of a bed without having to opt for a truck.

One aspect of the Santa Cruz concept that likely won’t see production is the powertrain. The 2.0-liter turbodiesel from the concept will likely be shelved due to the fallout of the emissions scandals that followed the 2015 reveal. It’s possible a diesel will be offered in other markets, like Hyundai does with the Santa Fe, though the automaker remains quiet on sales of the Santa Cruz outside of the U.S.

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We can expect naturally aspirated and turbo-4 engine options along with a possible hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrain at some point, such as those found in the 2022 Tucson. We can also confirm that all-wheel drive will be included, likely as standard.

Hyundai has seen its sales in the U.S. slide since a high of 768,057 units in 2016 due to a sedan-heavy lineup and the lack of a pickup. The tally in 2020 was 622,269 units. The automaker is turning the ship around with new additions like the Kona, Palisade and Venue crossovers, and now the Santa Cruz pickup.

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