A New Small Toyota Truck Could Bring The Fight To The Maverick

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Ford and Hyundai's success in the segment hasn't gone unnoticed.

Drivers in the United States love trucks, so, naturally, automakers like Ford and Hyundai have developed new pickups to compete on the smaller end of the spectrum. Buyers responded with excitement, and the high level of demand has led to shortages and extended wait times in some cases. Toyota is watching from the sidelines and has a back catalog packed with small trucks. MotorTrend interviewed two Toyota executives and found that the world's largest automaker is considering dipping its toe back into the small truck market.

Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales at Toyota North America, told MotorTrend that the company is looking at the progress made by other automakers with small trucks. "One of the spaces we're looking at - that won't be short-term - is where the compact pickup truck is going."

He continued to say that "you have Santa Cruz and Maverick on the market, and it will be interesting to see (the Volkswagen) Scout. Today, we have the market really well covered with Tacoma, but that could be a possibility and something we continue to look at." He's referring to the new Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick compact pickups.

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2022 Toyota Tacoma Front Angle View

There are a couple of different avenues Toyota could pursue with a small truck. Cooper Ericksen, group VP of product planning and strategy, said that the automaker might look at body-on-frame or unibody, depending on customer need. "If there's a customer that needs a rugged, smaller body-on-frame vehicle, we can consider that, but if it's more for urban use, and less extreme off-road, then it would make more sense to use the TNGA unibody platform." That means the truck could ride on a variant of the platform used to underpin vehicles like the RAV4 crossover and even EVs like the new bZ4X.

Toyota's got good reason to investigate the compact pickup segment. The Maverick's first model year sold out late last year, and Ford isn't expected to start taking orders again until this summer. Though the Maverick outsold it, Hyundai's Santa Cruz has sold exceptionally well in the first two periods of 2022, so there's a solid precedent for compact truck sales in the United States.

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2022 Toyota Tacoma Forward View

The Japanese automaker also has plenty of experience building reasonably sized trucks. Toyota made all manner of cute pickups until the early 2000s when the Tundra and second-generation Tacoma debuted. Even the T100 "full-size" truck that debuted in the 1990s was small by today's standards, so the automaker has plenty of history to draw on.

As far as when we could see a new Toyota pickup, don't get your hopes up for a 2022 or 2023 release. If the automaker decides to make a move in the segment, a 2024 or 2025 debut is much more likely. Toyota's HQ Confidential 3 event will take place in June 2023, which is a possible launchpad for a small truck, and Erickson confirmed that the event will be a can't-miss, saying, "it will be worth the trip." The automaker debuts all sorts of cool stuff at the event, so trucks won't be the only thing on the docket.

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2022 Toyota Tacoma Side View
Source Credits: MotorTrend

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