As compact trucks return to the American market, one manufacturer is notably absent from the hype, and that brand is Toyota. Currently, the smallest Toyota truck is the 2022 Tacoma, but by no means is that pickup small. Especially when compared to trucks like the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz. But much like Ford and Hyundai have borrowed these truck’s platforms from other models, Toyota could do the same. Making a small pickup out of the current RAV4 crossover.
Toyota should make a new small truck
With the success seen by the 2022 Ford Maverick, it is clear that American shoppers are interested in small trucks that offer more comfort than a traditional body-on-frame pickup. The Maverick rides on the same platform as the Ford Escape, making the drive feel smooth and more car-like. In Toyota’s case, there is the RAV4 crossover. This vehicle has long been a top seller for the brand, and it would make an ideal starting point for a compact Toyota truck.
Reportedly, according to MotorTrend, a large portion of Maverick buyers are coming from the non-truck segment. And that is a signal that the public is actually interested in these kinds of vehicles. That said, the Maverick has a starting cost of around $20,000. If Toyota were to make a small truck, it is unclear if the brand would be able to get a price that low.
Toyota’s small truck could be a hybrid
The RAV4 is built on Toyota’s TNGA platform and currently boasts an available hybrid engine. Toyota has long been a believer in hybrid technology, so it would make sense that a small truck could also share this powerplant. And, unlike the Maverick, the RAV4’s hybrid can easily pair with all-wheel drive. Currently, you can’t buy a 2022 Maverick with the hybrid engine and AWD.
In terms of power output, according to Car and Driver, the 2.5-liter hybrid found in the RAV4 makes 219 horsepower. And that should be ample enough performance for a truck, plus buyers would get the benefits of hybrid efficiency. One of the major selling points of the Maverick Hybrid.
Is Toyota making a small truck?
While Toyota has yet to announce plans for a small truck, it would make sense for the brand to explore this segment. The current generation of RAV4 has been on the market since 2019, and that means there is likely an update coming soon. If there is a newer RAV4 generation on the way, Toyota could use the opportunity to build a compact pickup truck.
While supply chain issues have undoubtedly played a part in Ford having to pause customer orders for the 2022 Maverick, it would be hard to believe that popularity didn’t also play a role. And even Hyundai, a manufacturer that does not have a lot of truck experience has found success with the Santa Cruz.
So, as a proven truck builder, you would have to imagine that customers would flock to a small pickup from Toyota. But, only time will tell what Toyota decides to do. Until then, we can only speculate.