While the Hyundai Veracruz is a perfectly competent vehicle, the upscale three-row crossover hasn't been selling particularly well, making it stick out like the proverbial sore thumb on the Korean automaker's otherwise white-hot sales charts. What to do? Well, Autoblog has learned that while the CUV will soldier on largely unchanged for another couple of years, it is almost certain to be replaced by a long-wheelbase version of Hyundai's popular Santa Fe.
The move is unusual for a crossover but not without precedent. In other markets, Nissan has added a stretched version of its well-liked, hard-to-pronounce Qashqai known as the Qashqai+2. Of course, other automakers have also offered extended-wheelbase models of their body-on-frame SUVs (think: Cadillac Escalade ESV) for many years.
At this time, it's not clear how much the next–generation model will be stretched to accommodate the third row, or what name the longer model will take, but it will almost certainly maintain the Santa Fe descriptor and styling in order to build nameplate equity and control costs. Oddly, the Santa Fe was itself offered with three rows up until it received a modest refresh for model year 2010, but that option was dropped due to a very low take rate. Presumably, buyers are looking for more space for third-row occupants, and a longer passenger cell will have buyers considering a next-generation three-row Santa Fe anew.
In other Santa Fe news, the CUV figures to be a prime candidate for the new lithium-polymer hybrid drivetrain that Hyundai has developed for the 2011 Sonata. While our sources won't confirm that the model will go gas-electric, they do admit that the company is keen to spread out development costs through added scale and they also acknowledge that the CUV's size would make packaging an easy and natural fit.