Concept vehicles, at least those developed by automakers, are usually futuristic versions of what a vehicle might look like one or two generations ahead. But sometimes a company such as Toyota will produce a one-off special vehicle to highlight interesting features; these vehicles are more down-to-earth and just plain fun.
As a "big thank you" to the people of Australia for making the global Toyota Hilux pickup truck one of the country's most popular vehicles — almost 1 million have been sold since its introduction in 1968 (530,000 4x4s, and 390,000 4x2s) — big-toy specialist Toyota and small-toy specialist Tonka have joined forces to create a special-edition off-roading pickup built for adventure.
The Hilux Tonka Concept was the brainchild of Nicolas Hogios, product and design chief for Toyota Australia. Hogios said he was "inspired by the Tonka trucks kids play with in their backyard," and that he wanted to make something special, ready to traverse rocks, rugged terrain and push personal boundaries.
The Hilux Tonka is a double-cab SR5 with a turbo-diesel 2.8-liter inline four-cylinder. It comes with a 6-inch suspension lift to accommodate the custom-made 35-inch mud and sand tires. The custom front bumper has a high-clearance skid plate made from 6-mm-thick aluminum and includes a winch and heavy-duty tow hooks, presumably for rescuing others from mishaps.
The high-mounted rear bumper and bodywork have been modified to provide for better departure angles. The Concept also features a custom tailgate and high-performance LED lighting. Inside the bed the Hilux Tonka has extra water tanks, two fuel cans, fire extinguishers, spare tools and parts, and a full-size spare.
We don't know if Toyota will decide to eventually produce the special-edition Hilux Tonka Concept for Australia, but we'd like to see that happen. What we do know is that Toyota will be showing a special 4x4 vehicle at the 2017 New York International Auto Show in April.
Coincidence? We'll have to wait and see if we might get something similar to the Hilux Tonka or if there might be a new Toyota four-wheeler on the horizon.