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2022 Hyundai Tucson Gives Us Preview Of Much Anticipated Santa Cruz

Hyundai has been hitting on all cylinders lately, especially when it comes to design both for the interior and outside, too. The 2022 Tucson revealed yesterday looks great and should be a hit for Hyundai. But, did you know that it also gives us a preview of the much anticipated Santa Cruz El Camino-like pickup? Here’s why.

We don’t know whether it was a mistake or not but after the Tucson reveals there was a roundtable discussion. Hyundai Motor Group Head of Global Product Management Lorenz Glaab said that both the Tucson and Santa Cruz share the same platform. That also means they will share similar sheetmetal. 

Hyundai will not deny or confirm what the Hyundai exec said

A Hyundai Santa Cruz on display at an auto show.
Hyundai Santa Cruz | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Hyundai will not deny or confirm what Glaab said, which leads us to believe it is probably true. We would suspect if this is the case then they will share powertrains, which means the Santa Cruz will have the 2.5-liter four-cylinder and optional turbocharged 1.6-liter hybrid four-cylinder. 

The Tucson is smaller than the Santa Fe which is what we assumed Santa Cruz was based on. That also led to the idea that Hyundai would be targeting the Santa Cruz against the Chevy Colorado and Ridgeline. Since both the Santa Cruz and Honda Ridgeline are based on unibody platforms that made sense. Our feeling is that anyone looking at the Colorado knows it is body-on-frame so they wouldn’t consider a unibody pickup. 

The Santa Cruz will have to be built in the US

2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz Rendering | Kolesa-2
2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz Rendering | Kolesa

Because of the “chicken tax” which adds tariffs to imported commercial vehicles the Santa Cruz will have to be built in the US. So, maybe Hyundai has figured out a way for it to be built alongside the Santa Fe, which is assembled in Alabama. That means the Santa Cruz doesn’t need to be based on the Santa Fe if Hyundai can have two disparate vehicles assembled on the same line. It is not without precedent. 

When we last visited the Santa Cruz it was with a shot of the bare shell. Comparing that to the 2022 Tucson it does look to share the same inner structure. That is based on the location of the wheels, DLO, and where the door cut lines fall relative to the wheel openings. 

Santa Cruz will not share much Tucson sheetmetal

Hyundai Santa Cruz Shell on a forklift
Hyundai Santa Cruz shell on a forklift | Motor1

The Santa Cruz will not share much Tucson sheetmetal as the Tucson has more sculpting and also squared wheel openings. While the Tucson has squared wheel openings the Santa Cruz has round wheel openings and much less body sculpting. The almost vertical creases in the doors of the Tucson are not evident in the images of the Santa Cruz shell. 

That’s how you do it if you’re a manufacturer. You disguise as much of the inner platform as you can while still enjoying the economies of scale. Amortizing platforms over numerous models saves development money over the long haul. 

We look forward to getting more info on the Santa Cruz and its Kia sibling in the weeks to come.