The light truck has also been testing in Australia, where pictures of two- and four-wheel drive variants, camouflaged and dusty from Victorian bush tracks, have been published online.
In Spain, the Hilux was accompanied by a convoy of Toyotas, including a Highlander, said Automedia. In Victoria, the two Hilux models were joined by the Volkswagen Amarok, Nissan Navara, and the Ford Ranger.
No coincidence there – Hilux is being benchmarked against all three rivals, which are longer and wider and with a longer wheelbase than the current Hilux. The 4WD Amarok, Navara and Ranger also have a greater braked towing capacity: Amarok and Navara are rated at 3000kg, Ranger and its identical mechanical twin the Mazda BT-50 at 3500kg, and the Hilux at 2800kg. A bigger Hilux will likely bring improved interior packaging, ute-critical payload, and tray size.
The images here appear to show a longer and wider body, with a longer rear overhang. We can also see a larger cabin, a bigger rear window and what appears to be a beefier rear bumper. Up front is a sportier front fascia with a slender grille flanked by distinctive headlights. The wheel arches are less pronounced.
Nothing about engines yet, but expect a choice of petrol and diesel. There has also been talk of a hybrid. Toyota will no doubt want to boost the new Hilux model’s power and torque to match that of rivals.
The 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel in the current 4WD Hilux generates 120kW/343NM. The inline five-cylinder diesel in the Ranger and BT-50 develops 147kW/470Nm; the 2.5-litre four-cylinder in the Navara puts out 126kW/403Nm and the optional 3.0-litre V6 generates 170kW/550Nm; the 2.0-litre diesel in the Amarok is good for 132kW/400NM.
The Hilux has been the light truck of choice for around 30 years in New Zealand, but the Ranger has so far headed it on the sales charts in 2014.