The Toyota Stout’s Redemption Story Is Almost Complete
Toyota‘s Tacoma has been the reigning champ of America’s midsize truck market for almost 20 years and at one point about a decade ago, Tacomas captured 60% of all midsize truck sales. Before the Tacoma, there was the HiLux which many remember fondly for surviving a series of torture tests on Top Gear, as well as serving as Marty McFly’s whip in the Back to the Future film franchise.
However, we’re betting that even some hardcore gearheads don’t remember the truck that started it all for Toyota: the humble Stout. That’s about to change, though, because rumor has it that Toyota may rekindle the Stout name for a compact pickup that will go head-to-head with Ford’s popular Maverick. Here’s a little Scout history lesson, plus a look toward the future.
The Toyota Stout wasn’t exactly a smash hit in the United States
The Stout’s history in Japan dates back to the ’50s but it wasn’t exported to the United States until 1964, after the little truck was already redesigned for its second generation.
For the first few model years, it was technically called the Scout 1900 in reference to its 1.9-liter inline four-cylinder engine with a whopping 85 horsepower. The only available transmission was a four-speed manual with a column shifter. Even though four forward gears was pretty progressive for a budget truck at that time, “four on the tree” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “three on the tree,” amiright?
An older article in Popular Mechanics mentions that in its inaugural year, a total of four (4) Stout trucks were sold. If accurate, that’s a truly stunning statistic but in any case, the Stout definitely wasn’t a hot item.
After the 1967 model year, the history of the Stout in the United States gets a little murky. Toyota’s own website isn’t even clear about whether the Stout continued to be sold during the period immediately preceding the Hilux in 1969 or whether Toyota trucks took a hiatus from American shores for a couple years.
What we can say for certain is that post-1967, Toyota stretched the Scout’s cab by two inches in response to complaints from export markets that it was too cramped. A slightly larger 2.0-liter engine was also fitted for good measure.
Though the Scout was a handsome truck and a fairly robust one at that—larger than the later Hilux or the plethora of other 1970s Japanese pickups—U.S. buyers just weren’t ready for anything smaller than a full-size truck. Plus, there was likely some skepticism toward the Toyota brand, which had yet to become a household name.
Why the Stout was such an important vehicle for Toyota
Even though we’ve established that the Stout wasn’t wholeheartedly embraced by American consumers, it still educated Toyota about their buying habits and preferences, which no doubt shaped the design and marketing of the highly successful Hilux that replaced the Stout.
So while Toyota’s benefit from the U.S. market might have been mostly educational, its benefit from the Stout elsewhere in the world was a hefty profit. The second-gen Stout lived on in popularity in markets like South Africa and Australia all the way until 1978. Mostly, it was sold right alongside the Hilux as a somewhat larger, heavy-duty alternative with more cargo capacity.
That relationship would continue with the third-gen Stout for 1979, which featured Hilux sheetmetal for the cab and front end, but the old second-gen bed and rear underpinnings. As a result, the available cargo space and weight capacity were greater than the Hilux, but it created an odd transition between the cab and the wider cargo bed.
Some Toyota fans credit this iteration of the Stout as the inspiration for Toyota’s first full-size pickup, the T100, which filled the heavy-duty niche of the third-gen Scout in a more elegant, cohesive manner. And of coruse, the T100 was just a gateway drug for the brand on its way to the Tundra that we know and love today.
The story of the Stout isn’t over quite yet
The cobbled-together third-generation Scout was produced in certain parts of the world until the year 2000, so the nameplate isn’t quite as ancient as you might have originally thought. Now, after a 25 year slumber, it could emerge again, but this time the roles are reversed and the Stout—if that’s what it’ll be named—will be more compact than the Tacoma née Hilux.
According to Automotive News, Toyota dealerships have been asking for a truly compact pickup to sell, similar to the Ford Maverick or Hyundai Santa Cruz. Like those other two trucks, the new compact truck would be car-based and ride on a unibody platform, possibly the Corolla.
Since Toyota has mandated that each of its vehicles have an available hybrid powertrain by the year 2025, it’s a given that this new compact truck would too.
Toyota fans have speculated that an older vehicle badge would be reinvented for the compact truck, and coincidentally, Toyota did recently register the Scout name in Argentia. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be used in the United States or at all for that matter. Automotive News reports that if the tiny truck does reach production, it won’t be before 2027.