Hyundai Santa Cruz pickup 'will be a lot more distinctive' than the concept

Brand's design ethos have changed since the concept debuted in 2015

More details are trickling out about the production version of the Hyundai Santa Cruz, the Korean brand's first foray into the pickup truck market.

For starters, don't expect it to look much like the concept version that bowed in Detroit way back in 2015. Motor Trend spoke with SangYup Lee, head of the Hyundai Global Design Center in Korea, who said the design strategy has changed in the intervening years, which saw the ouster of former U.S. CEO Dave Zuchowski amid a sales slide and a focus on other vehicles. Lee says Hyundai no longer feels the need to make every vehicle look similar, and so he wants new vehicles to look striking, demanding a second look. The new Santa Cruz, he said, "will be a lot more distinctive" and have "a lot more character." It'll still be a crossover pickup truck, "but the look of it is a lot more progressive."

Separately, Hyundai may have dropped a hint about its sales and marketing strategy for the new crossover pickup. CarBuzz spoke with Hyundai Vice President of Product Mike O'Brien, who cited the example of used Toyota Tacomas being snapped up from dealer lots because of their pricing. "There's a lot of customers who wish they can have a Tacoma but can't afford one," he told the outlet.

We already know that Hyundai is eager to get the Santa Cruz into production for a crossover- and truck-mad U.S. market, that it'll be built on the same platform as the redesigned 2020 Tucson and that it has evolved from a two-door concept to a five-seat, four-door truck. There will also reportedly be a corresponding Kia version later.

Reports vary on whether the truck will launch in 2020 or 2021. If it's the former, then we'd expect an unveiling sometime this year.

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