Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Forget the HiLux and Tundra: This is the ute that will really change Toyota's game in Australia

A small ute under the HiLux could further enhance Toyota's Australian line-up. (Image credit: Digimods DESIGN)

Toyota's mini-HiLux ute could be revealed as early as June this year, with the city-friendly truck primed to take on the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Ford Maverick.

Australia's utes and pick-up trucks seem to be only going in one direction, and that direction is large. While the HiLux and Ranger and their dual-cab cohorts are already sizeable offerings, they've now been joined by US pick-up truck heavyweights like the Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150 and the Toyota Tundra.

But while all the focus has been on this bigger-is-better philosophy, the USA (home of the jumbo truck) is proving there is a sizeable appetite for smaller, more efficient, and more car-like, utes.

Take the Hyundai Santa Cruz, which recorded a significant 36,480 sales in the USA in 2022. That's up from 10,042 sales in 2021. While those numbers don't make it Hyundai's biggest-selling vehicle in the USA, it does mean it's already more important to the brand there than the Accent, Venue and Veloster.

Ford's bite-sized Maverick has proven even more successful, with the Blue Oval shifting in excess of 74,000 examples of the city-friendly truck in 2022. To put that into perspective, it's not a patch on the booming result of the big F-Series trucks, but is more sales than the Mustang managed.

Crucially, Ford is convinced it could sell a lot more, but can't keep up with demand. In fact, the brand shut down its online sales portal after only a week as orders flooded in.

While the Santa Cruz was seen as the first toe in the car-based truck waters in the USA, the success of both the Hyundai and the Ford have made others stand up and take notice, most noticeably Toyota, which is now reportedly brewing up its very own rival.

In fact, US reports suggest the model – tipped in some quarters to be called the Toyota Stout – could be revealed as early as June this year, with Toyota said to be planning on using one of its "HW Confidential" briefing events to unveil its newest, and possibly electrified, ute offering.

Toyota's Stout will take on utes such as the city-friendly Hyundai Santa Cruz. Toyota's Stout will take on utes such as the city-friendly Hyundai Santa Cruz.

"Chances are we may have HQ Confidential 3 next year, so we'll have other things to talk about," Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America, told Motor Trend. "It will be worth the trip."

The model is expected to ride on Toyota's TNGA platform - the same that underpins almost all of the brand's new passenger cars and SUVs - and it's widely tipped to adopt petrol-hybrid technology.

Hyundai in Australia has repeatedly ruled out the Santa Cruz for our market, while Ford has said the same of its Maverick, preferring to focus its energies on the all-important Ranger.

That leaves Toyota with an opportunity to go it alone, and, like with the incoming Tundra, the Stout's left-hand-drive production wouldn't necessarily rule it out from a local launch, with the brand now embracing remanufacturing in Australia through Walkinshaw.

Would the Stout be a hit in Australia?