Hardcore Hilux secretly under development?
Last year we reported on the debut of the V6-powered GR Sport Hilux for the South American market. At the time, Toyota NZ told us the hi-po Hilux wouldn’t make it here. We thought that was that, leaving the $57k SR5 Cruiser as the range topper. However, Toyota went and trademarked the GR Hilux moniker with the Australian government’s IP (intellectual property) office.
Now it looks like Toyota may indeed be working on a secret Ford Ranger Raptor rival. The company has promised previously that any GR-branded model will come with “noticeable” performance upgrades. Whether that means on- or off-road is not yet clear.
A Toyota spokesperson told Cars Guide last year that the Aussie arm is “always taking a keen interest in the high-performance ute market, but at this stage we have nothing announced. But like we’ve said in the past, we are not ruling out any model from GR modification.
"We race the HiLux in Dakar, so it’s definitely not out of the question that we could see a vehicle like that some time in the future."
Toyota's vice president of sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, added that there is definitely a market for performance utes. "I think customers would be interested in (a HiLux GR), but I don't know whether we're getting asked for it, to be honest. I think it's something that would appeal.”
"However, right now we don't have it on the radar."
It pays to mention that patenting and trademarking is standard practise for manufacturers and doesn’t necessarily mean anything will be put into production for resale. Toyota may simply be protecting its IP by attaching itself to the GR Hilux name.
That said, the success of the Ranger Raptor (497 sold in New Zealand over 2019) might be pushing Toyota to rethink a high-performance competitor.