LOS ANGELES — Give Hyundai credit for courage.
The new Santa Cruz adventure vehicle now rolling into showrooms faces a U.S. market that has not been kind to small, car-based trucks with quirky styling — among them, the Dodge Rampage from 1980s and the Subaru Baja from the 2000s.
And tougher still, the Santa Cruz is coming to market just as a mighty competitor, the new Ford Maverick, goes into production. The Ford is also a crossover-based vehicle, but one that looks like it's ready for tougher jobs.
For all of Hyundai's "adventure vehicle" marketing and deliberate avoidance of the truck moniker, the Santa Cruz is a compact pickup, and so is the Maverick, though they may be intended for different audiences.