Lonely Planet Writer

Australia's favourite car gets a makeover for extreme driving

Australia now has the ultimate off-road vehicle for four-wheel driving in its vast outdoors: the Toyota Hilux Tonka.

2017 Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept Image by Toyota Australia

Reimagining its ‘unbreakable’ Hilux as full-scale Tonka toy, Toyota has brought together two world famous brands. Tonka is a household name, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, while Toyota is in its 80th year of incorporation. “We have taken Tonka out of the sand pit and reinvented Hilux from top to bottom and from nose to tail,” said product design chief Nicolas Hogios.

Underneath the dramatic black-and-yellow coat is a top-of-the-range Hilux. The makeover starts with substantially higher ground clearance – an increase in ride height of 150mm – and combines a high-riding axle, heavy-duty suspension and 35-inch diameter tyres, so the Hilux Tonka can power out to areas typically off-limits to conventional off-roaders.

2017 Toyota HiLux Tonka Concept Image by Toyota Australia

“It goes way beyond the already huge abilities of Hilux to traverse rocks and other rugged terrain,” Hogios said. Its removable tubular frame sees all your travel and repairs gear in place, including spare fuel cans for outback driving. Storage boxes house the recovery gear needed for extreme off-road driving as well as a fire extinguisher, axe, shovel and high-lift jack.

In 2016, the Hilux became the first vehicle that wasn’t a passenger sedan to be Australia’s best-selling vehicle. It really is the favourite Down Under. The Hilux Tonka is not destined for dealer showrooms just yet, travellers can have a look at it first hand at outdoors expos and 4WD shows touring the country.