Hyundai Santa Cruz ute revealed

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North American market gets a compact new Hyundai ute with Tucson-aping looks and usability.

Hyundai has revealed the Santa Cruz as a sort-of Ford Ranger-rivalling, activity-focused ute for the US market.

Hyundai Australia has already confirmed there are no plans to introduce the Santa Cruz to Australia.

Claimed to “break new ground” by combining elements of the SUV, ute and crossover segments in its conception, the Tuscon will enter production in Alabama in June ahead of an on-sale date in summer.

The Santa Cruz has been developed to serve urban drivers whose lifestyle would better suit an open load bay, rather than a conventional SUV boot. The bed itself is around 1270mm long, and features a lockable tonneau cover for improved security, as well as hidden storage areas underneath.

Hyundai claims the new model is comparable in terms of manoeuvrability and efficiency to a standard mid-sized SUV. Power is provided by a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing either 142kW and 244Nm in naturally aspirated guise, or 205kW and 420Nm with a turbocharger.

Both power plants send their reserves to all four wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which is linked to paddle shifters behind the steering wheel for manual shifting. The atmo engine offers a towing capacity of 1600kg, while the turbo boosts that to nearly 2300kg.

Overall, the Santa Cruz draws clear styling inspiration from the recently launched Tucson SUV, most notably in its dramatic full-width front grille with distinctive daytime-running lights, and its angular silhouette. A prominent skid plate is a nod to its off-road ability, while extended wheel arches and chunky 20in wheels lend a degree of ruggedness.

At the rear, the Santa Cruz adopts new and unique T-shaped light clusters which have not yet appeared on any other production Hyundai models.

Inside, the Santa Cruz adopts a layout and design ethos familiar from the Tucson. A pair of 10-inch screens are used for the infotainment and digital displays, while Hyundai’s BlueLink connectivity services are equipped as standard.

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