Unpopular Carpinions: The compact truck segment is the next best thing
A lot of folk would love the utility of a truck but can't handle the thirstiness or cumbersome dynamics.
New niches of cars emerge every other hour to answer questions no one ever thought needed answering. Rarely does a niche emerge that not only serves a proper, meaningful purpose, but makes a case for it being the best new thing on the market. Hatchbacks, the first wave of crossovers, mid-size trucks, and now we have these obscure treats: compact trucks. Come on! Just look how cute they are!
I don't think I've been this excited for a vehicle launch, let alone a new pickup truck launch.
Hello people of the internet. I'm Nico and today I will be talking about the recently announced Hyundai Santa Cruz "Sports Adventure Vehicle".
Or, well, nevermind, they're kind of ugly. But that's okay, it's their spirit that counts.
For just a second, put away your dip and Bass Pro Shops trucker hat. Forget about shredding the Baja 1000 or towing that horse trailer to the ranch, and think about the growing market of youthful car buyers in urban and suburban settings. A lot of them don't want or need all that excess that those goliaths pack. These buyers simply need something to haul the kayaks upstream. Maybe, just maybe, they'll have to shuttle some camping gear down the not-so-beaten path to the camp site or ferry one of those tiny moving trailers across downtown Los Angeles.
These are "trucks" for those who wouldn't be cross shopping with traditional trucks. Of course a Raptor or Super Duty is a wonderfully-capable thing to have. I've driven all sorts of trucks from work-spec strippers to off-road supercars of the sand with hulking V8s and pussycat diesels. It's just a shame for people to buy one for however much money, usually in the ballpark of luxury sedans, only to never or rarely exploit a fraction of its capability just because they 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 they'll need it. Just rent a U-Haul.
For those fortunate enough to not be so strapped for cash, think of it this way. If you don't need an F-150 but need something more utilitarian than a crossover (and you really, really miss your uncle's Subaru Baja), you could score a Santa Cruz and splurge the rest of that budget on a new Toyota GR 86. Now doesn't that sound like a rad garage?
Why subject ourselves to ox-cart ride quality, dismal fuel economy, and oil tanker maneuverability when manufacturers can offer just what most urbanites need in a friendlier, car-like platform? No, it won't satisfy the ranchers the same way a Silverado 2500 would nor would it match a Tacoma on the trail, but it'll sure as hell kick them to the curb commuting on the grid. For young folk that just nailed the job interview at that tech firm and will soon be spending weekends at the trailhead with their shiny new mountain bikes, that's all they'll ever need.
If you need any more convincing to welcome these things to the market, then try this. Get them with their top-tier engines, plug in a tuner, and flash those puppies. Bam! Santa Cruz N and Maverick ST. I have spoken.