Trust Toyota to see an opportunity where no other automaker does. A guy from the Toyota’s Australia product planning & development division seems to have never outgrown his (must be an he) love of his childhood toys, or perhaps he was inspired by the movie “Ted” whereby a teddy bear came to life. Otherwise, how do you explain this rare “collaboration” between one of the largest automakers on earth with a toy manufacturer to build a real-life world toy for adults? I am talking about the recently unveiled 2017 Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept. The model is based on the Toyota Hilux SR5 double cab model to capitalize on the Toyota Hilux popularity in Australia where it was the best-selling model in 2016. The concept features a blend of extreme off-road capabilities with an attractive livery inspired by Tonka toys. The Concept was made to commemorate Toyota’s 80th global anniversary and Tonka 70th global anniversary.
2017 Toyota HiLux Tonka Exterior
Compared to the regular Hilux SR5, the HiLux concept features a more aggressive exterior look. The front is hooked up with a gigantic bumper made from steel to shield the model from obstacles when tackling extreme terrain. The front also features a winch, tow hooks and complimenting LED headlights. The bumper is so designed to improve the approach angle. Under its belly are underbody skid plates for enhanced protection. There is an aggressive grille with nostril-like features, a look repeated at the rear tailgate. The engine hood has a huge carbon-fiber scoop. The side features wide fender flairs. The model runs on 17-inch, Method wheels dressed in 35-inch Toyo tires that feature custom Tonka graphics.
The rear features a carbon-fiber tailgate and the nostril-like features, a 2-inch receiver and extra tow hooks as well as an aggressive bumper. Being a high utility vehicle, the model features a unique tube-frame structure that doubles up as a roll bar, integrated jerry cans, a space for a fire extinguisher and tools. The roof, on the other hand, has a LED light bar.
During the Concept’s debut, Toyota did not reveal any details about the cabin which makes me think this model was just about the exterior looks that remind enthusiasts of their childhood Tonka truck toys. That being said, I believe the designers have maintained the Hilux SR5 cabin unchanged. The SR5 features leather upholstered seats or leather-accented fabric seats, an Entune infotainment system and a TFT display on the gauge cluster. It may also have 8 grab handles for easier entry and exit. Like the regular SR5, the rear bench has under-seat storage.
Engine and performance
There are no mechanical changes compared to the current Hilux SR5. The model thus uses a similar 2.8 L, 4-cylinder turbodiesel mill good for 174 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mounted longitudinally and it is paired with a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. It is an AWD model that features a 2-speed, part-time manual transfer case that channels power to the front wheels when needed.
The model features performance brakes, enhanced shock absorbers and a firm rear axle that features opposing-mounted shocks and leaf springs. The driver can adjust ground clearance level courtesy of Portal hubs.
Toyota has no production intent for the concept at least for now. However, the concept will be showcased at 4WD shows, expos and field days in Australia to give adults and young enthusiasts a taste of a “real-life toy”. I would really love to see Toyota take this “toy” into production.