Crossover & Midsize

Don’t Call The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz a Pickup Truck

Everyone is making pickup trucks as fast as they can. Although the Rivian R1T and Tesla have been taking up a lot of air on the pickup truck front, Hyundai has been in the wings with the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz. Wait… It’s not a pickup truck?

Is the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz a pickup truck?

We just got four official snaps of the new Santa Cruz, and it sure as hell looks a lot like a pickup truck to me. However, Hyundai says that this shouldn’t be called a pickup truck. Instead, Hyundai refers to this as a “sport adventure vehicle.” 

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz teaser
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz teaser | Hyundai

The photos might fall more in the “teaser” realm than official photos. They are pretty shadowy and shrouded, but we can see a good bit of the exterior of the little Hyundai picku…sorry, sport adventure vehicle. Like the Honda Ridgeline, Autoblog reports that the 2022 Santa Cruz is built on a unibody platform but is closer in size to the Ford Maverick. 

Why won’t Hyundai call the Santa Cruz a truck?

This might either be a matter of semantics or branding. As of now, it is hard to tell. Hyundai seems to be really adamant about not calling it a truck but instead calling it a sport adventure vehicle. It feels as though Hyundai really wants to drive the point home that this thing is for adventures. It almost feels like a step more toward the Subaru world than a shot at the new batch of small pickups. 

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz teaser
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz teaser | Hyundai

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Autoblog reports that Hyundai promises it will have a “flexible bed for gear, cutting-edge connectivity, and a highly maneuverable all-wheel-drive platform.” Hyundai also said it would be best used in “adventure-focused environments,” whatever that means. Well, I think might know, actually. 

If you look at Subaru’s lineup and branding, most of it is aimed at this slightly ambiguous outdoor-focused lifestyle. More accurately, it seems focused on three or four different outdoorsy lifestyles all wrapped into one. 

There seems to be a mountain bike, hiking gear, skis, snowboards, or a kayak strapped onto whichever car is being shown in most promotional materials. Over the years, this has connected the Subaru brand with adventurous, outdoorsy types in our minds. I wonder if this isn’t what Hyundai is attempting with this marketing language. 

What are the photos of the new Santa Cruz showing us?

Autoblogs keenly points out that the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz’s front end should look a little familiar. It is basically the same refreshed grille from the Elantra and the Tucson. Of course, it is altered to fit the dimensions and upright stance of the little truck. The radical running lights below the headlights add a super-futuristic look to it.

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz teaser
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz teaser | Hyundai

Deep lines run down the side of the Santa Cruz to give a chiseled, sort of beefy look to it even though it is clearly on the smaller end of trucks. Lastly, the angle where the rear window and the bed meet almost reminds of the forward canted cab of the old, early ‘60s Chevy C10s. This is obviously a very futuristic little bugger, but that particular spot rings with the wisdom of previous trucks. 

Whatever the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has going on beyond these photos, it certainly seems like Hyundai is trying to capitalize on the surge of adventure vehicles. I think I probably speak for most of the car world when I say this is a much cooler trend than most of the others.