Exploring the Tundra

June 9, 2006
Filed under Trailer Reviews

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As the saying goes, “bigger isn’t always better,” but in the case of the Tundra, Toyota
sure is hoping it is. Searching for a winning combination of features and capacity, while
remaining mindful of its initial offerings to the full-size truck market with the T-100 and
first-generation Tundra, Toyota has once again climbed into the full-size arena with what
the manufacturer believes is a winner in a contest with a buyer’s mantra of more-is-better.
Toyota unveiled its next-generation 2007 Tundra pickup to the motoring press at the Chicago
Auto Show in February. Completely redesigned from bumper to bumper, the Tundra will return
early next year to do battle with the “Big-Three” truck makers in full-size fighting form.
Toyota has reinvented the now 7-year-old model with an eye toward the “True Trucker,” a
term coined by Toyota Motorsport Group Vice President, Jim Lentz, referring to owners who
“use, punish and demand the most out of the pickups they buy.” Taking cues from
full-size-pickup owners, Toyota has pulled out all the stops to create a new contender for
the big-truck bucks that will offer buyers 2WD and 4WD, three cab styles, three bed sizes
and Toyota’s long-recognized base, SR5 and Limited trim levels. The standard power
selections of a 4.0-liter V-6 and updated 4.7-liter V-8 will be retained, but Toyota is
adding a new 5.7-liter “I-Force” V-8 featuring independently controlled intake and exhaust
variable valve timing, and a higher compression ratio to handle the increased towing
capacity of 10,000 pounds. The made-in-the-USA V-8 will be mated to a brand-new heavy-duty
six-speed automatic transmission complemented by “extra-duty” electrical and cooling
systems and four-piston brake calipers clamping larger rotors to bring everything to a safe
stop. The stylish body, with origins from the Toyota FTX concept truck, retains the taller
door lines and clipped front end that houses the large chromed grille surround. Faintly
Dodge Ram-esque in appearance, it defies any visual connection to its Tundra predecessor.
The current Tundra Access Cab will be dropped in favor of the new Double Cab as well as a
larger four-door crew-style cab offering more head and hip room and additional interior
hidden storage. Larger outside mirrors have been designed to maximize the view aft while
minimizing wind-induced vibration. A Class-IV rated hitch receiver has been incorporated
into the new frame with an optional built-in rear-facing camera set into the locking
tailgate handle for easy hitching. Toyota has also engineered a stout tailgate damper,
allowing easy two-finger operation of the tailgate with reduced bounce when left open.
Inside, expect the comfort quotient Toyota generally offers in its luxury lines. Leather
bucket seats with proper side bolsters should keep driver and passenger comfortably locked
in over rough roads, aided by A-pillar grabs on both sides. Three-across rear seating is
more spacious, interior dash control knobs and buttons are large enough to allow the
work-gloved hands of contractors or driving-gloved enthusiasts to easily operate them and
the optional JBL sound system will include Bluetooth phone compatibility. Keeping the work
truck theme in mind, the King Kong-sized center console is capable of holding hanging files
and should be more than adequate for any recreational travel gear. Toyota expects to sell
200,000 Tundras in its first year; the trucks will be built in factories in Indiana and
Texas. Performance specifications and pricing haven’t been finalized yet, but Jim Press,
president of Toyota Motorsports, expressed his confidence in the redefined Tundra saying,
“Tundra will again offer the most comfortable, quiet, and refined ride in the full-size
truck segment.”

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