There is a new tomorrow out there for the Toyota Tundra faithful and they are going to find it in the new 2014 Tundra model trucks - especially the exciting new 1794 and Platinum Editions - just arriving in dealers.
Our recent first drive did not allow enough time to fully evaluate the new Tundra as we would have liked, but we think it is - from what we experienced - a pretty solid Toyota answer to the competitive challenge shaping up in the full-size pickup truck segment for 2014. From the short four hours we had to look over and drive them in and around the Grand Tetons at Jackson Hole, Wyo. recently, we are certain that the Tundra faithful are going to love the new 2014 Tundra.
Being from Texas, we took the opportunity to focus our drive time on the 2014 Toyota Tundra premium level 1794 Edition Crew Cab 4x4 that best symbolizes the Toyota commitment to Texas through production of a truck that is truly, in every way, Texas born and bred.
The addition of the 1794 Edition premium level elevates the Tundra to a newly competitive status - in both style and performance - standing out now as the only truck in the segment that is not only produced in Texas, but also honors the heritage of Texas and Western ranching through its nameplate, Tundra 1794 Edition.
Our first drive of the new Tundra 1794 Edition met our expectations in exterior styling, ride and handling with a notable improvement in cabin quietness and interior amenities including technology.
The interior treatment of the 1794 is exceptional with its western styling and use of premium materials with numerous attention to details such as the "1794" floor mats which have a center section designed to clean shoe and boot soles and then snap out for easy cleaning.
We would add that the seating front and rear is exceptionally supportive and comfortable with another notable change with the second row seating in that it now folds up giving significant additional cargo capacity inside the cab.
Many expected Toyota to also change their power trains for the new 2014 Tundra as others have done in their new models have to gain competitive advantage in fuel economy and tow/haul capacity. Toyota officials were emphatic that their research showed that their strongest heritage was with their current engines and transmissions.
For 2014, they chose to stay with their current three power train configurations believing their performance and fuel efficiency continue to be well within the needs and wants of full-size pickup customers based on their market research.
The 1794 Tundra Edition we drove was powered by the Tundra workhorse, the 5.7-liter, DOHC i-Force V-8. Tundra’s most popular engine with owners, it generates 381 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 401 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 3,600 rpm. The fuel efficiency on the 4x4 version we drove was rated at 13 mpg city/17 mpg highway/15 mpg combined. It comes standard with a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission as does the 4.6L V-8 with the 4.0L V-6 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.
With these power trains, the Tundra remains a workhorse (but now with many more amenities) that have haul capacity of 2,000 pounds with tow capacity over 10,000 pounds on selected and properly equipped models.
Overall, we found the new 2014 Tundra 1794 Edition to be a very nice and powerful ride in and around the Grand Teton area during the drive time that was available to us.
Tundra and Changes in the Segment
The full-size pickup truck segment has changed dramatically in recent years moving more to more premium crew cab trucks with deluxe interiors and features. A very few years ago, the crew cab did not exist. Now it is well over 50 percent of trucks sold according to Toyota.
Our observation, as we have told you before, is that the new family vehicle of Texas is the premium level crew cab pickup truck - replacing the luxury SUV for many.
Our basis is very scientific of course, we just drive around the mega-church parking lots in Texas on Sunday and count the premium level crew cab pickup trucks. We have found there are an increasing number of them with fewer of the high end SUV's over the last couple of years in those lots.
The new 1794 Edition and its companion premium level Platinum will now give the Toyota Tundra a competitively priced entre to that increasing market with newly styled trucks, new and exciting interiors and proven power trains at a competitive price point (MSRP $47,320).
We have already given you much of the detail about the five grades of the new 2014 Tundra in our earlier reports on the Tundra debut at the Chicago and DFW Auto Shows and again in August as they were beginning to arrive in dealerships. You can use the highlighted links above to reach and read those articles.
The 1794 Edition Heritage
Many have asked where the model name "1794" came from?
The home of the Toyota Tundra is Toyota Motor Manufacturing (TMMTX) located just south of San Antonio, Texas, a property - once the oldest working ranch in Texas, the JLC Ranch - that provides the 1794 Edition legacy name.
The 1794 Edition name originates from the founding year of the JLC ranch in the year 1794, when a young colonist from the Canary Islands, Juan Ignacio de Casanova, received a royal grant for a league of rolling pastureland between Leon Creek and the Medina River.
On this fertile land, he established El Rancho de la Purisima Concepcion, and later expanded his holdings to more than 24,000 acres. Ignacio later defended San Antonio from Mexican revolutionary forces attempting to break away from Spain. He served briefly as the Spanish Provincial Governor of Texas before his death in October 1823. His son, Jose Ignacio Perez continued to ranch the land.
During the Texas Revolution, Perez remained loyal to the Mexican Government, placing his family on property along the Rio Grande. He continued to pay taxes on the ranch, which helped him reclaim the land when he returned in 1846. The Texas Republic, however, only recognized only the original land grant of 4,000 acres.
This was passed on to Perez's descendants as the JLC Ranch until it was acquired by Toyota in 2003 for the first (and only) pickup truck plant in Texas, TMMTX at San Antonio.
Toyota and Tundra in Texas
Today, that TMMTX $2.2-billion plant complex investment employs nearly 3,000 Texans inside the plant producing both the Tundra and the mid-size Tacoma with annual capacity of over 200,000 units. Additionally the 21 on-site suppliers employ another 2,800 Texans.
In the full-size segment market where one-in-five pickup trucks that are sold in the U.S. are sold in Texas, Toyota, with the new Tundra - including the 1794 Edition - now boldly stands out as the true Texas pickup truck in every way possible with both the Tundra and the mid-size Tacoma.
Nationally, Toyota has about a 10 percent share of the full-size segment market with 2013 sales forecasted at 107,000 units (2013 / 2014 models) and increasing to 137,000 units as the 2014 Tundra fully penetrates the market.
Toyota will be challenging the competition with their new 2014 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition (along with the significantly upgraded 2014 Tundra line) to become a much more significant player in the Texas market and nationally as they line up to participate in the annual Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) Truck Rodeo held in October.
As with others, our brief first drive still left some questions on how the new Tundra, across the line, stacks up against the also new 2014 competition from Ford, Ram, Chevrolet and GMC.
We will get a chance to find out - head to head - at the Texas Truck Rodeo.
There, the new Tundra will step up to challenge the others for the coveted Truck of Texas award for 2013.
We will be there too, behind the wheel of the new Tundra as well as all of the others at the Rodeo and will give you our final assessment following.