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The Toyota Hilux pickup is one of the company’s most popular vehicles. On average, it sells around 600,000 of the trucks every year, for years. But Toyota doesn’t tread water, it is always accessing and releasing new iterations and options. With the rise of the Ford Ranger Raptor, Toyota is now looking to go head-on with the Ranger, just not in the U.S.

What is a Hilux GR Sport?

Toyota Hilux
Toyota Hilux pickup Tonka concept | Toyota

One of its biggest markets is Australia. Though Toyota makes the Hilux GR Sport for off-road enthusiasts, the local market Down Under wants something to compete with the Ford Ranger Raptor. It is now in the middle of development for an “Apex” iteration with much off-road goodness to combat the Raptor’s popularity.

“In a further upgrade to the Hilux range, Toyota plans to launch a new Apex off-road variant, replacing the Hilux Rugged X,” from a Toyota Australia announcement. “Details, including launch timing, will be announced in due course”. So Toyota Australia, in Melbourne, is aiming beyond its capable Rugged X trim. 

What is the Hilux Rugged X

Toyota Hilux Rugged X
Toyota Hilux Rugged X pickup | Toyota

Since being introduced in 2018 in Australia, both the Hilux Rugged X and similar Rogue have sold over 17,000 trucks, according to CarExpert. A more extreme Rugged X variant should see those numbers increase. Something like the Hilux Tonka concept, minus the gaudy Tonka graphics, would be quite an off-road truck anywhere it was sold. 

Australia has a gang of modified pickups from other manufacturers that are sold there. Nissan sells its Navar Pro-4X Warrior, Mazda has the BT-50 Thunder, and VW’s Amarok has a W580X special edition truck. So modified off-road trucks sold new are common, and expected there. But none of them can compete with the Ranger Raptor when comparing power and suspension upgrades. 

What will the Hilux Apex be?

Toyota Hilux Tonka
Toyota Hilux Tonka Concept | Toyota

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So with the Tonka concept as a guide, what would the Apex version feature? For starters, a new steel bumper with an added bullbar and LED lightbar would start things off. A snorkel, extended fenders, rock sliders, taller and chunkier tires, and an upgraded suspension are other additions we expect to see. 

The 201 hp 2.8-liter turbodiesel is the top engine available in the Hilux. We expect a tuned version to up the power and torque will also be part of the Apex package. There is a version of the Hilux sold in South Africa that has been goosed to 221 hp. Of course, emissions are much more lenient there. But there is a lot of potential still waiting to be unleashed for a special edition. 

Competition brings out the best in companies. With the Ranger Raptor lighting the trail, it was only a matter of time before Toyota began looking to undo Ford’s dominance in the midsize truck category. We’re anxious to see what results.