The 2007 Toyota Tundra Road Test Preview
(watch for our full road test review on January 8, 2007)
The most popular vehicles sold in the United States are not sedans. They are not SUVs or crossovers either. No, the most popular vehicles sold in this country are pickup trucks. Big honkin trucks, many with rifle-racks in the back window. Of course, a good number of these are work vehicles, but more and more, you will find them used as the primary CarParts.com. These trucks are now available decked out with leather seats, surround-sound entertainment systems, in short, all the amenities normally found in high-end automobiles.
People who buy these trucks are often faithful to a particular brand. And it better have an American name, like Ford, Chevy, Dodge, GMC and the like. If Toyota has any chance of making in-roads into this arena, it had better build a great truck, and they had better do it right here in the good old US of A.
Well, Toyota believes that the new Tundra has what it takes in 3s. Three cab styles, three wheelbases, three bed lengths, three engines, three trim levels, and hopefully, three American manufacturers that may soon be looking over their shoulders.
Couple that with a choice of 4x2 and 4x4 drivetrains and a reported towing capacity in excess of 10,000 pounds and you have the makings of a winner.
But, what about the folks that insist on a Made in USA label? Well, Toyota tells us that the new Tundra has more US content than any of the trucks from the big three American manufacturers. It was even designed and engineered here.
Jim Press, President & Chief Operating Officer of Toyota, announced at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show that product planning for the second generation Tundra began at Toyota headquarters in Southern California. All engineering development was directed by the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And styling was the work of their Calty studios in Newport Beach, California and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Tundra will be assembled at two US factories, one in Princeton Indiana and the other one, an all new state-of-the-art facility in San Antonio Texas. The Engines will be built in Huntsville Alabama and the transmissions are manufactured in North Carolina.
But what about the trucks? How are they better?
Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales group vice president and general manager told the packed house of automotive journalists that the Tundra will be aimed at "True Truckers". These are the people who demand the most out of the trucks they buy.
Toyota began their quest for the ultimate half ton pickup by spending a considerable amount of time with the people who use these trucks the hardest. The development team spent months interviewing people who owned pickup trucks. These true truckers told Toyota in no uncertain terms, what they wanted in a truck. This is the first time that American engineers had complete control over the development of a Toyota product.
On January 8th, we will give you all the details and our driving impressions of these new trucks, but for now, what we can tell you is the following:
The three cabs are the Regular Cab with 2 doors and a single row seat, the Double-Cab which will have 4 doors and is pictured at the top and bottom of this page, and an all new size for Toyota called the CrewMax. Photos and details of the CrewMax cab will be seen here right after its unveiling at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 8, sometime before Noon EST.
The three engines are the 4 liter V6 and a pair of V8s, one that is 4.7 liters and the other one, a new 5.7 liter powerhouse. The V8s will be mated to a heavy duty 6 speed automatic transmission. Couple this pulling power with high capacity electrical and cooling system, stiffer chassis and larger brakes, and we have a half-ton truck that will achieve a better than 10,000 pound towing capacity.
Some of the new features on the 2007 Tundra include a pair of dampers for the tailgate to make is easier to open and close. They will also keep it from bouncing when driving with the tailgate down. Larger door handles make it easier to enter the cab while wearing work gloves. For the same reason, knobs and controls are also larger and there is more room in the cab so there is no reason to remove gloves or hard hats when moving from one job site to another.
There is a significant amount of standard equipment as well as a number of options so that you can tailor these trucks any way you need them from a down-and-dirty work truck to a classy, leather-lined family hauler. As you can tell from the interior photos above and in the photo gallery, this can be one slick set of wheels.
In general, this is a big brawny half-ton truck that seems to be moving into three-quarter-ton truck territory. Toyota has proven time and again that they know how to build vehicles that American people want and will buy. From my first impression at the Chicago Auto Show last February where the Tundra was first revealed to the public, I have to say that it looks like Toyota has a truck that can make a significant dent in the huge American pickup truck market.