A little over a month ago, a report emerged about Toyota’s alleged desire to launch a small pickup in the United States by adapting the Corolla’s underpinnings for a more utilitarian vehicle. Automotive News speculated that the intention is to have the truck on sale in 2027 at the earliest. However, AN has now received clarification from a company official that a compact ute is not on the agenda.
Toyota Motor North America’s Group Vice President and General Manager, David Christ, said: “We don’t have anything planned.” As if that wasn’t clear enough, he went on to mention: “We’re not announcing anything to the dealers [at the meeting this week in Las Vegas]. I won’t even say ‘yet’ because that would suggest it’s coming.”
Dave Christ admitted Toyota has “obviously watched Maverick closely” and that a smaller truck to slot below the Tacoma is “something we’ve looked at.” He pointed out how pickups have gotten substantially larger over the decades, suggesting there would be room in the lineup for a modern-day Stout.
His thoughts were echoed by Steve Gates, chairman of the Toyota National Dealer Council. He believes a downsized truck would generate great volume without hampering demand for larger pickups like the Tacoma or Tundra. Dave Christ acknowledged Toyota dealers across the US have been asking for a model to fight the Maverick, which has “done reasonably well” for the Blue Oval. The Santa Cruz wasn’t mentioned in the interview but Hyundai has its own small unibody truck.
Reports from Japan are suggesting Toyota will launch the next-generation Hilux in 2024. However, this global truck is roughly the same size as the Tacoma and it wouldn’t make sense to sell it in the US. Given the versatility of the TNGA platform, underpinning everything from the Yaris to the Century SUV, it doesn’t seem impossible to adapt the architecture for truck duty. That said, it looks as though a Maverick rival will not hit the market in the forseeable future.