Toyota Rumored to Be Considering Smaller Sibling for Tacoma, Hilux

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Toyota executives are rumored to be considering the possibility of launching a smaller pickup to slot beneath the global phenomenon that is the Hilux, as well as the North American Tacoma.

The news comes following an exchange between Leon Theron, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and South African motoring publication CarMag. The outlet had asked the executive about the prospect of Toyota fielding a smaller “bakkie” – which is apparently not a slur and simply the South African equivalent of the Australian “ute” – and received a not-so-subtle hint that it was a distinct possibility.

“Watch this space in the next 3 years for the LCV segment with potentially a small bakkie from Toyota,” Theron said during the South African “State of the Motor Industry” event held at Kyalami earlier in the month.

From CarMag:

It goes without saying that South Africa is one country that is infatuated with bakkies and for good reasons of course. With our horrendous road conditions, a Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Isuzu D-Max or a Nissan Navara will gladly take on the challenge without flinching, so bakkies make a lot of sense. In addition, the popularity is also due to the ability to carry loads around efficiently and appropriately. Nowadays bakkies are not just limited to being workhorses, they have officially entered the design and style segment. Judging by the design language that is being translated by manufacturers lately, bakkies have become full-on family vehicles. Offering the same level of comfort and luxury you could find in an SUV or sedan in bakkie form.

They certainly seem excited about the possibility of another “bakkie” from Toyota. But there’s a chance such a vehicle could migrate over to our shores as well. With American tastes trending large and manufacturers knowing bigger vehicles tend to be far more profitable, moderately sized pickups had all but vanished from our market until fairly recently. Even today’s midsize offerings are utterly massive compared to the compact pickups that were available until the 1990s.

But that has started to change with Ford seeing great success in the U.S. from the comparatively petite Maverick. Hyundai has likewise launched the less traditional Santa Cruz, indicating the country probably has a big enough appetite for a second helping. GM is also rumored to be working on a smaller truck targeting the Maverick – though most rumors also claim it will be an all-electric vehicle.

Meanwhile, Toyota already has a solid reputation for building dependable pickups and there’s plenty of nostalgia for the small “Toyota Pickup” (technically the U.S.-spec Hilux with the most unimaginative name ever) from back in the day. Absent from our market since 1996, it might be due for a revival. However, that also might be determined by its present development cycle and where Toyota is willing to build them. The company already has a strong manufacturing base inside the United States and will absolutely need to manufacture the truck stateside (or at least in Mexico) if it plans on selling them to Americans.

[Image: Adolf Martinez Soler/Shutterstock]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • MrIcky MrIcky on Jan 30, 2023

    Toyota keeps hinting at 'the next big' and hasn't really delivered that much new since the prius. Maybe the most conservative company on the face of the planet for good and bad and if it's a 3-5 year time frame to come into existence, who cares. Hopefully the new Taco brings that vehicle up to date and it isn't just a new fascia and a 12 inch touch screen. Yes I've read all the rumors, we'll see. Maybe they'll close the c channel frame and put disc brakes on it?

    • Jeff S Jeff S on Jan 30, 2023

      You might be right about a compact pickup. Toyota went to a C channel because of the problems with the prior frames rusting. Hopefully the next generation of Tacoma will have rear disc brakes in addition to the front disc brakes.

  • Brooke Willson Brooke Willson on Feb 04, 2023

    Toyota used to know how to do this: my beloved 2002 Tacoma extended cab with 300k miles has a 6 foot bed. It’s distressing that Toyota followed the obnoxious American custom of bloating everything by turning the Tacoma into a midsize truck. It’s also unfathomable to me why Toyota — the leader in hybrid vehicles — hasn’t made a hybrid Tacoma. When and if my Tacoma ever dies (I replaced the engine — cracked head — at 269k), I will get at least a hybrid if not an all electric. If that happens, heaven forbid, tomorrow, I could not be buying a Toyota.

  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.