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"An SUV with a bed": More details of game-changing Baby Toyota HiLux revealed as brand eyes Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz sales success

Toyota USA wants to take on the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz. (image credit KDesign AG)

Toyota's baby HiLux would be less a traditional workhorse and more an "SUV with a bed", as the brand plots a way to jump in on the sales success of the Ford Maverick and the Hyundai Santa Cruz in the USA.

The brand even went so far as to detail what a new sub-HiLux ute would offer in terms of space and practicality, saying that the success of the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz would allow them to "dial it in" for its customers.

That's the word from Toyota in America, where the brand's Vice President of automotive operations, Jack Hollis, told US publication Automotive News that "there is space" in its line-up for a model that would sit below the Tundra and Tacoma or HiLux.

The reason? The HiLux - and its American cousin, the Tacoma - will be built on the same global body-on-frame platform - and the view is that those utes are already big enough, so smaller is the only direction left in which to travel.

"We've reached a point where we can't get bigger, frankly, because of garage-ability - or the ability to fit into a garage - and that's a huge selling point," Cooper Ericksen, Toyota USA's VP of product planning and strategy, told Automotive News.

Which is why Ericksen's team is "actively looking into" a sub-HiLux ute, and one that would swap the body-on-frame architecture for a more car- or SUV-like platform.

It's undeniable that those products have a place in the market," he says. "How big is that segment going to get? I don't know, but it's something we need to be looking at and figuring out if it's an area we should be playing in."

Eriksen went on to detail just what a baby HiLux would offer, suggesting it would take on more of an "SUV with a bed" philosophy, with plenty of cabin space for passengers.

"We probably need something a little more spacious on the inside, more of an SUV-with-a-bed concept, so it's really dialling it in," he said.

"And the more that Ford sells, frankly, and the more Hyundai sells, the more we'll be able to get good research on who these customers are, why they want this vehicle, and we'll see if that's the space we want to enter into."