Hyundai Santa Cruz revealed: US built vehicle blends a ute with an SUV

The South Korean maker has been spruiking this car for years, but there are several things keeping it off Aussie shopping lists.

Hyundai has unveiled its long-awaited Santa Cruz ute.

There is bad news for Aussie tradies as the Santa Cruz will be built in the US for left-hand drive markets.

But there is good news in the future with the brand working on a tougher ute for the Australian market.

The Santa Cruz isn’t like the dual-cab utes so popular with Aussie buyers but follows a similar path to old school favourites such as the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon utes.

Based on the new Hyundai Tucson mid-size SUV the Santa Cruz will be more SUV like than rugged dual-cabs and four-wheel drives such as the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger that use a robust ladder on frame structure.

Essentially Hyundai is trying to create an SUV/ute hybrid, and to show this it’s referring to the Santa Cruz as a Sport Adventure Vehicle rather than a pick-up or ute.

The Santa Cruz will be available with the choice of two petrol engines – Americans don’t care much for diesel.

First up is a non-turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder unit making an underwhelming 142kW/244Nm and paired with a conventional eight-speed auto. It can tow about 1500kg.

The other option is a beefier turbo 2.5-litre engine making 205kW/420Nm matched to an eight-speed dual-clutch auto. This version is rated to tow about 2200kg.

Its tray is small at about 1200mm, which is about 300mm shorter than the Toyota HiLux dual-cab.

Safety covers the basics with auto emergency braking, lane keep assist and driver attention warning all standard.

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The interior shows the Santa Cruz is more geared towards play than work with plenty of tech features and creature comforts.

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