Here It Is: 2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup

When we last lifted the veil on the highly anticipated Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup it was with a leaked image of a body shell. But it’s fairly easy to extrapolate from an image like that what the rest of the unibody pickup will look like. Now we have these renderings that flesh out what the 2021 the Santa Cruz will look like. So here it is; what do you think?

For those wanting an El Camino/Ranchero, the wait has been long

2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz rendering |

For those wanting an El Camino/Ranchero, the wait has been long. While this isn’t one of those it’s real close. Close enough to grab many of those enthusiasts while also snagging those wanting a more car-like pickup. In some ways, it’s like the Honda Ridgeline. But the Ridgeline has always missed the mark when it comes to design. The first-gen was quirky in a bland way. The current generation is just bland. There is little style to it.

The Santa Cruz, on the other hand, infuses the truck with more style like we always saw in El Camino/Ranchero/Utes. Some looked at those car/trucks of the past as sedans turned into pickup trucks. Others saw them as “stylized” pickups. Either way, you look at it the Santa Cruz has a more car-like style than any pickup.


A lot of what makes the Santa Cruz more stylized and appealing are the extended sail panels

2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz concept | Hyundai

A lot of what makes the Santa Cruz more stylized and appealing are the extended sail panels behind the top. It is what always distinguished car/trucks of the past. It’s great they have been incorporated into the Santa Cruz. The Ridgeline hacks off the top at the bed missing the opportunity to get some styling into an otherwise bland truck. 

We also like the duckbill seen from the rear that visually extends the bodywork a bit over the bed. We doubt it will be this pronounced on the production version but if it is we’re good with it. The bed length shows Hyundai was not concerned about those 4×8 foot sheets of plywood fitting inside. But most pickup trucks rarely if ever are called upon for that purpose. Those that anticipate needing that capacity won’t be part of the Santa Cruz customer pool.

For many, this could be the perfect pickup

2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz rendering |

But for many, this could be the perfect pickup. More accessible and versatile than an SUV with sedan-like ride and handling. We’ve said it before; as companies eliminate sedans from their portfolios they will need alternatives. This is one of those alternatives. 

While the Detroit Three have abandoned the car/truck segment in the US the last one was the 1987 Chevy El Camino, you can bet they’re paying attention. If the Santa Cruz ends up being a hit, look for a wave of similar pickups leading up to 2025.

Will the Santa Cruz match the Ridgeline’s sales?

2021 Hyundai Santa Cruz body shell

The Ridgeline sells a bit over 33,000 units a year. Nothing to sing about. But its bones and most of its sheetmetal are shared with Honda’s Pilot, so there was less to develop. In that regard, if Honda sells 200,000 over the course of the Ridgeline’s life it’s a winner for them. 

The same is true for the Santa Cruz. It is a Hyundai Santa Fe with the top lopped off at the rear. As development time and money go this is a home run for Hyundai. Whether it’s a sales home run remains to be seen.

These images were provided by and created by Nikita Chuyko. So even in Russia, where these originated, there is much anticipation for the Santa Cruz.