Just how compact is the Santa Cruz, Hyundai’s new compact pickup?

We compare it with the Toyota Hilux and other Hyundai SUVs
by Andrew Guerrero | Apr 20, 2021
ILLUSTRATION: Andrew Guerrero
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Hyundai surprised the world a few days ago when it unveiled its new Santa Cruz compact pickup. Many of you are probably wondering just how small this model is versus the midsize trucks we commonly see on our roads.

Let’s find out.

How compact is the Santa Cruz compared with a midsize pickup?

The Hyundai Santa Cruz compared to a Hilux

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Representing the traditional body-on-frame pickup is Toyota’s extremely popular Hilux. The Santa Cruz’s 4,971mm overall length is approximately 394mm less than the four-door Hilux’s 5,365mm. Surprisingly, the Hyundai’s 1,905mm width is 50mm greater than that of the 1,855mm wide Toyota. In terms of height, the Santa Cruz sits quite low at 1,694mm—a full 121mm shorter than the 1,815mm tall Hilux G. The Hyundai’s wheelbase measures 3,005mm, which is just 80mm less than the Toyota’s 3,085mm wheelbase. It’s also interesting to note that the Santa Cruz’s 245/50 R20 tires have a diameter of 29.6 inches—just one inch down on the beefier 265/65 R17 tires of the larger Hilux G.

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In the main image, you’ll notice that the Hyundai’s bed is significantly shorter than that of a midsize pickup. Its cargo floor length is over 200mm shorter than the 1,524mm average bed length of a crew-cab truck. As a consolation, it does get lockable tonneau cover and an additional storage area under the bed floor. 

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How does the Santa Cruz stack up against other Hyundai models?

The Hyundai Santa Cruz compared to other Hyundai Modesl

The image above retains the Hilux to better show the differences in dimensions. Compared with the outgoing Tucson compact SUV sold here (third from top), the Santa Cruz is a whopping 491mm longer and 55mm wider, and has a wheelbase that stretches 335mm longer. Versus the Explorer-rivaling Palisade (bottom), the compact Hyundai pickup is 9mm shorter and 70mm narrower, but it has a wheelbase that’s 105mm longer.

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Let’s talk about design. There is nothing truckish about this sleek pickup. The Santa Cruz’s unconventional styling is closely related to the all-new Tucson’s unique design language. Both feature futuristic front ends with daytime running lights integrated into the grille, the DRLs only becoming visible when lit. The angular front fascia, the prominent wheel arches, and the chiseled lines add a touch of toughness. The elongated C-pillars form buttresses that help visually trim down the length of the bed. The short overhangs and wheels pushed toward the corners give it an athletic stance.

The Hyundai Santa Cruz Angled Front View

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The Hyundai Santa Cruz Angled Rear View

Hyundai may have been the first to introduce a modern four-door compact pickup, but it will soon have competition. Ford will launch its own unibody trucklette to slot below the midsize Ranger. Will this be the beginning of a new pickup wars? Let’s wait and see. If the initial players are successful, more carmakers might want a slice of that compact-pickup pie.

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Is there room in our market for a compact pickup? A vehicle that blends the attributes of a crossover SUV and a pickup could work here if priced right.

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ILLUSTRATION: Andrew Guerrero
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