For those of you who have not yet heard, Toyota makes trucks, and they want to make more of them. In order to do that they have to sell more, and to do that they need to bring to market a truck that people will want to buy.
Full-size pickup trucks dominate sales charts in North America - but only for the domestic automakers. Ford and its F-series is tops with Chevy close behind in the Silverado. Way behind is the Toyota Tundra that only (arguably) began coming into its own in the past decade.
Toyota recently introduced the new 2014 Tundras during a launch event in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There journalists put the new Toyota full-sizer through its paces as the trucks were driven on road and off with some trailer towing thrown in for good measure. The host site was a working ranch just outside Grand Teton National Park, so the backdrop could not have been more beautiful.
For 2014, Toyota gives Tundra a real "shot in the arm" as it addresses styling and packaging concerns. For starters, exterior styling gets squared away as designers give the truck a few less curves. The hood is raised a bit and fenders are a blockier. From certain angles the new truck looks like a cross between the Ram and Ford designs.
Without a doubt, the big win comes on the inside as an all-new dash really cleans things up while offering the latest in technology. One of the biggest complaints on the previous truck was dash styling, which looked as if that assignment was given to two designers who did not speak to each other - ever. That blockier exterior styling carries over to the dash panel with trapezoidal shapes in every direction.
The 2014 Tundra also enjoys the next coming of EnTune, Toyota’s answer to Fords SYNC/MyFord Touch systems. EnTune gives drivers and passengers infotainment, apps on the road and added connectivity and it is integrated into the new center dash display.
Engineers have addressed some suspension issues in the new truck as well, making the MY2014 Tundra less bouncy on pavement, and they added a few strategically-placed aero fins to reduce wind noise and increase stability at highway speeds.
The Tundra Q&A session in Wyoming yielded the possibility of a few more things to come for Toyota's big truck program, which might include diesel engine options, but for those waiting on a Prius Tundra you're probably out of luck.
A favorite new Tundra will undoubtedly be the 1794 Edition that pays homage to the ranch property the truck plant now occupies in San Antonio, Texas, and is a truck clearly intended to go head-to-head with Ford’s King Ranch models. The 1794 is nice, very nice, with its tanned dual fabric interior and added chrome pieces. This is country chic at its finest.
By the numbers, Toyota offers Tundra in five trim levels to include SR, SR5, Limited, 1794 Edition and Platinum. Cab configurations include two-door regular and four-door Double and CrewMax cabs and all models are available in two- or four-wheel drive and a mix of cargo box lengths (5.5-, 6.5- and 8-feet). Pricing will begin in the mid-20s for the base Tundra and climb progressively to 47 grand and change for a 1794 Edition or Platinum 4x4.
Tundra can carry more than 2,000 lbs. payload and tow more than 10,000 lbs. No factory brake controller yet but the truck is pre-wired for aftermarket units and larger brake rotors are new for 2014.
MY2014 Tundras are powered by three engines (4.0-liter V-6, 4.6-liter V-8 and 5.7-liter V-8), but at this launch event, Toyota chose to talk about and outfit the test models with the big V-8 that generates 381hp and 401 lb. ft. of torque, stating V-6 powerplant sales (across all manufacturer lines) are almost inconsequential. Gearboxes are of the five-speed nature for the V-6 and have six cogs for V-8 trucks. Fuel economy comes in at 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway for the 4.0-liter, 15/19 respectively for the 4.6 and 13/18 respectively for the 5.7 in 4x2 trucks.
On the road the new truck is quiet, smooth and confident. When towing the j2014 Tundra is fairly stable but the transmission should have helped a bit more on downhill runs in tow/haul mode by downshifting itself to help maintain vehicle speed and avoid overworking the brakes.
The new Tundras are arriving at dealers now with Toyota being ever-so confident to predict a 33 percent bump in sales annually of the new truck (to around 137,000 units) thanks in part to what they say will be new growth in this popular but highly competitive segment.
Yessir (and ma'am), this new 2014 Tundra proves Toyota makes trucks that are ready to work, ready to play and ready to live life to its fullest. The truckmaker has worked diligently to prove it can run with the “big dogs” but while they were burning the midnight oil, so too was the competition who have new trucks of their own. Is this the year Tundra will take home the “Truck of the Year” honors? Toyota has certainly "come a long way, baby" but given the competition there is still a little ways yet to go.