Toyota's down under team builds a Tonka-inspired off-roader based on the compact HiLux pickup.

Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept headlight and fender detail

Toyota HiLux

Trucks bearing the HiLux name first reached our shores in 1968. But despite the fact that it shared a platform with the 4Runner through the 2005 model, the HiLux pickup hasn't been sold in the US since Toyota retired the nameplate here in 1976.

Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept bed detail

But that didn't stop the Japanese manufacturer from selling it elsewhere. In countries as diverse as Finland, Thailand, and Argentine, the HiLux is now in its eighth generation. Australia, in particular, has developed an affinity for the small pickup – so much so that when the eighth-gen model was first introduced on May 21st, 2015, it was simultaneously unveiled in Bangkok, Thailand and Sydney, Australia.

Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept skid plate and lower bumper detail

The Aussie's love for the HiLux is also backed-up by sales figures. Since it was first launched down under in 1968, total sales of the model have topped 920,000. In 2016, the HiLux was the best-selling vehicle in Australia – marking the first time a non- passenger car topped the list.

Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept alloy wheel and Toyo tire detail

So what better way to celebrate this milestone, than to build a special, one-off, off-road concept vehicle based on the HiLux? Better yet, since many buyers use it as a big kid's toy, why not pair it up with the iconic Tonka brand?

Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept

Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept

Called the Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept, it was designed, tested, and assembled by Toyota Australia's product planning and development division. According to product design chief Nicolas Hogios, "We have taken Tonka out of the sand pit and reinvented HiLux from top to bottom and from nose to tail. Inspired by the Tonka trucks that kids play with in their backyards, the HiLux Tonka Concept goes way beyond the already hugely capable abilities of HiLux to traverse rocks and other rugged terrain."

Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept front 3/4 view

Based on the top-line HiLux 4x4 SR5 double cab model, the concept is powered by a 2.8-liter, four-cylinder, turbodiesel engine. Ride height was increased 6 inches over the production model and a high-riding axle and heavy-duty suspension, along with heavy duty springs and adjustable remote reservoir shocks, was installed. A 6mm alloy skid plate protects the oil pan and front sub-frame, while tubular side rails protect the body and chassis.

Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept side 7/8 view overhead shot

The production steel hood was swapped out for one constructed of carbon fiber that features a "power bulge" and front and rear air scoops, while the roof bar and pod feature LED off-road lighting.

Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept front suspension detail

The tailgate is also constructed of carbon fiber and features an integrated spoiler and two airflow ports, with a lightweight strap replacing the tailgate handle. Inside the box, a removable tubular frame, fitted with fire extinguisher, axe, shovel and high-lift jack, holds diesel fuel cans as well as recovery gear.

Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept front fascia detail

Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept specifications

Length: 212.6 inches
Width: 85.8 inches
Height: 280.7 inches
Final drive ratio: 4.01:1
Curb weight: 5,291 pounds
Approach angle 35 degrees
Departure angle: 30 degrees
Ground clearance: 17 inches
Front track: 70.2 inches
Rear track: 70.8 inches
Wheels: 17 x 8.5-inch Method NV alloy
Tires: 35 x 12.5-inch Toyo Open Country M/T-R
Front brakes: Disc
Rear brakes: Disc
Parking brake: Electronic

Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept front 7/8 dynamic shot