Toyota Stout comeback rumors: Will it be an electrified truck? [Update]

  • Toyota apparently considering a compact truck for the segment below the Tacoma
  • Success of the Maverick could be a catalyst for the Toyota compact truck's introduction
  • The Stout was sold in North America between 1964 & 1967 paving the way for the Hilux
  • We expect the Toyota compact truck to feature hybrid power & Toyota's new HMI

Update: ‘Influenced by the EPU Concept?’ section added.

Many of you might not have heard about it but the Stout was the original Toyota truck in the compact class in North America.

Toyota pickup trucks are usually associated with the Hilux from the 1970s, but go back further, and you’ll find that in 1964, the Japanese carmaker launched the half-ton Toyota Stout 2WD in America and other markets. This was the first time Toyota toyed with the idea of a light pickup truck in North America, which proved to be a learning curve for the company.

Toyota Stout trademark registration

Why are we talking about the Stout? Argentinian website Autoweb reported in September 2022 that Toyota had registered the Stout name, which has led to rumors about a revival of the nameplate.

This report comes after Jack Hollis, Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations at Toyota North America, spoke to Automotive News in June 2022 about the company’s interest in the segment. He said that “there is space” in the U.S. lineup for a small ute-like pickup truck (below the Tacoma) and many reckon that the Stout could be it.

1979 Toyota Stout truck
It was the Stout that introduced the Toyota brand in the light pickup truck market in North America, and provided the Hilux with a base on which it made history. Image: Toyota

Nevertheless, we need to take this with a grain of salt, as standard legal procedures like trademark filings or registrations aren’t always an indication that a manufacturer is working on a car, though they might be interested in doing so at a future date.

Low-cost Toyota truck developments

Toyota is planning to produce a new entry-level pickup truck, but “it won’t be a half-ton bakkie,” Leon Theron said recently, South Africa’s IOL reported on May 16, 2023. Theron is the Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing at Toyota’s South African subsidiary. He also said that the new pickup truck will be “in the same space” as the Hilux but it will be “more affordable.”

The new Toyota pickup truck is under development, and when it arrives, Toyota believes “it will take the market by storm.” The company is considering introducing it (presumably in South Africa) “around 2025-26.” While there is a possibility, it remains uncertain if it’ll be the same model that America is expecting as the all-new Stout.

The truck segment dynamics and the requirements of a developed market often don’t match with the ideas of product planners in smaller countries. However, powertrains and other components could be shared to shave cost and time to market.

Glenn Crompton, the Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Toyota’s South African subsidiary said this model would be a solution for Africa and emerging markets. The African media is terming the future truck as a “baby Hilux” of sorts, indicating its positioning and pricing.

It should feature Toyota’s new HMI 

If Toyota builds the Stout, it will likely have a dual-cab layout. On the interior, we expect the company’s Texas-developed infotainment system to be available in multiple touchscreen sizes, depending on the variant. Toyota claims its new system offers five times the processing power compared to the previous generation.

The new Audio Multimedia System can be had with a high-definition touchscreen, up to 14 inches across, integrating Connected Services. The system features a new Voice Assistant that’s supposedly capable of comprehending natural conversations and can help drivers control certain in-car functions (climate control, audio system, etc.) using voice input. If the vehicle is equipped with Drive Connect Cloud Navigation, the Assistant can even fetch information regarding the weather or sports, and also find nearby coffee shops.

Toyota Audio Multimedia System
The new Toyota Audio Multimedia system features an intelligent virtual assistant, supports OTA updates, and gets wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. Image: Toyota

The Toyota Audio Multimedia System can be had with onboard Wi-Fi, supports over-the-air (OTA) software updates for bug fixes or to add new functionalities, and allows navigation via the Google ‘Point-Of-Interest’ feature. It also gets wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, along with the ability to stream Apple Music and Amazon Music.

The TNGA-C Platform is an ideal base

For the new Toyota Stout, a unibody platform may make more sense, as most customers will use it in urban environments rather than off-road terrain. The same reason could also be cited for making all-wheel drive optional, allowing customers who don’t need it to access higher MPG figures and lower maintenance costs.

Toyota may engineer the new Stout on the GA-C platform, one of its several modular platforms under TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture). As the letter “C” indicates, this is engineered primarily for compact cars, such as the Prius, C-HR, Corolla, Corolla Cross, etc. The scalable platform does support full electrification, and while Toyota has used it for China-only EV applications, it may stick to hybrid tech for the Stout.

The GA-C offers benefits like a low center of gravity and high body rigidity, which contribute to considerably enhanced ride comfort, stability, and dynamic performance. The hood and dashboard can be set low, giving the driver a better vision of the road ahead. Benefits of the GA-C chassis include an engaging driving position, good cabin space, and generous cargo volume as well.

The latest features

Following the example set by the new Tacoma, we’re quite certain that Toyota will not skimp on the equipment in its future compact truck. Power open and close tailgate for hands-free loading and unloading, multi-position tailgate with anchor points that offers flexible cargo solutions, 3D Panoramic View Monitor, Digital Key, and a premium audio system are some of the highlights that we expect on Toyota’s smallest truck.

While the towing and hauling aspect may not be comparable to the frame-based Toyotas, customers would look for 1,000-1,500 pounds of payload, and around 2,000 pounds of towing capacity. We’re also expecting the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 as standard, which includes features like Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Road Sign Assist.

Influenced by the EPU Concept?

The Toyota EPU concept that will debut at the 2023 Tokyo Mobility Show on October 25, 2023, could be a template for future Toyota truck designs, possibly including the Stout.

As the EPU concept measures 5,070 mm (199.6 in.) in length, 1,910 mm (75.2 in.) in width, and 1,710 mm (67.3 in.) in height, it could very easily be mistaken for a Maverick-class compact pickup truck. However, it has a 3,350 mm (131.9 in.) wheelbase, which is bigger than even that of the mid-size Tacoma.

Toyota EPU concept interior dashboard
The potential Toyota Stout, inspired by the Toyota EPU concept (pictured), could also come in an all-electric version. Image Source: Toyota

In fact, Toyota calls the EPU its “next-generation mid-size pickup truck” concept. Unlike the Tacoma, however, the EPU concept has a monocoque body, meaning its production version, possibly the modern-day Stout, could be more suited to urban use.

Will the Toyota Stout feature hybrid-electric powertrains?

One of the big questions is: Will the new Toyota Stout be electrified? As hybrid trucks gain momentum, there is a solid chance for the rumored Japanese model to adopt an electrified powertrain.

Toyota Stout Hybrid Future truck rendering
TopElectricSUV’s rendition of the new Stout features simple lines and design features revealed in recent Toyota concepts.

i-FORCE MAX

Toyota needn’t have to develop an engine for the Stout, as the i-FORCE MAX from the new Tacoma could be ideal for this application. In the mid-size truck, a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine is supported by a 48 hp electric motor integrated into an 8-speed transmission, with the energy for the e-motor stored in a 1.87 kWh NiMH battery pack. It develops 326 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque. For the compact truck segment, Toyota would have to downgrade these figures to meet the specific needs of buyers who prioritize fuel efficiency alongside performance.

Toyota Hybrid System

2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid engine bay
If the 2.4 i-FORCE MAX system from the Tundra proves too big or expensive, Toyota could consider recalibrating the Corolla Cross’s 2.0 Hybrid system to suit the demands of a small pickup truck. Image: Toyota

Another possibility is Toyota going further down in its utility vehicle line-up and borrowing the powertrain of the Corolla Cross Hybrid. This system pairs a 2.0-liter gas engine with producing 150 hp and 139 lb.-ft. of torque with an electric motor. The result of this combination is 196 hp, which should be enough for a compact pickup truck that’ll be used for light duties. Toyota may target an EPA-est. fuel economy rating of close to 40 MPG (combined) to dethrone the Maverick Hybrid, which delivers 37 MPG (combined).

Competitors

The Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz will be the Toyota Stout’s main rivals. About half of the Maverick trucks sold in America in 2022 were hybrids. The electrified powertrain maximizes efficiency while also reducing the total cost of ownership. Another contribution of the electric motor is the instant torque which comes in handy during towing and inclines, and the performance appeal of the extra oomph. 

The success of the Maverick could be the catalyst for Toyota to consider the compact truck segment seriously. More than 86,000 orders came in on the week when reservations opened for the 2023 model. Meanwhile, the Santa Cruz is also on to something, with sales of 36,480 units in the U.S. in 2022, and YTD 2023 sales up by 9% percent (January-August 2023: 26,032 units).

Release date

There’s no word on the release date of Toyota’s compact pickup truck, but we don’t expect the company to launch this model before the second half of the decade. A report Automotive News released on July 30, 2023, suggests that the compact pickup truck is a potential model, and that its design work hasn’t been finished yet.

According to a MotorTrend article published on June 3, 2022, Toyota has been keeping a close eye on the compact pickup truck segment in the U.S. The publication was interviewing Bob Carter, former Executive Vice President of Sales for Toyota Motor North America, and Cooper Ericksen, TMNA’s Senior Vice President of Product, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Mobility Planning and Strategy, on the company’s future plans.

Ericksen told the American publication that the company will consider a small and rugged body-on-frame model if there’s sufficient customer demand. Otherwise, a more city-friendly model based on the TNGA unibody platform would make better financial sense. It is a possibility that the U.S. market could get a compact truck for MY2027 or MY2028, which could be discussed (or teased) at the next edition of Toyota’s HQ Confidential event, as hinted by Carter to MotorTrend.

TopElectricSUV says

When compared to the Tacoma, the future compact truck should offer better fuel efficiency and a more car-like driving experience. Besides crossovers, a tough and rugged Stout could also pull customers who are upgrading from compact sedans, as seen in the case of the Maverick.

Featured image: TopElectricSUV’s illustration of the future Toyota Stout.