2014 Toyota Tundra Wish List
What We'd Like to See on Toyota's New Big Truck
2013 is already shaping up to be a good year for truck fans. GM unveiled the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra in the waning weeks of 2012, Ford previewed the 2015 F-150 with the Atlas concept at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, and now, Toyota has announced that the new 2014 Tundra will be shown next week at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show.
Though the Tundra hasn't been able to garner as many fans as the domestic stalwarts, Toyota was still able to move a significant 101,621 trucks in 2012 despite it not getting any significant updates since its debut in 2007. We've outlined our list of items we'd like to see on the new Tundra. What are yours?
The Tundra's 381-hp, 401-lb-ft, 5.7-liter iForce V-8 remains competitive against the likes of the Ram 1500's 5.7-liter Hemi and the F-150's 6.2-liter V-8, giving just to the two. A few tweaks to boost power and increase fuel economy by a couple of MPG from the current 14/18 city/highway should be enough.
Things get tougher on the base engine front. The extant 4.0-liter V-6 makes a 270 hp and 278 lb-ft of torque, a mixed bag of competitive torque (the Ram's 3.5-liter makes 269-lb-ft, the Ford's 3.7-liter is also good for 278 lb-ft) and lacking horsepower (305 for the Ram, 302 for the Ford). Where it really falls behind the competition, however, is fuel economy. At 16/20 mpg city/highway, it gives considerable ground to the Ford, which gets 17/23 mpg and even more to the Ram, which is good for 17/25 mpg thanks in part to its eight-speed automatic transmission. Whether Toyota keeps the engine in modified form in the 2014 Tundra or replaces it with a new one remains to be seen, but either way, expect to see significant changes, which could also include an eight-speed transmission.
Toyota currently offers a third engine on the Tundra, a 4.6-liter V-8 good for 310 hp and 327 lb-ft. Toyota had offered it in the Sequoia SUV as well, but recently dropped the option due to lack of interest. Toyota could choose to drop it from the Tundra as well, increase its output, or replace it with a new engine entirely -- we'd love to see a surprise answer to Ford's EcoBoost.
Tundra HD -- Will it Finally Happen?
This has been one of those rumors that just won't die in the truck world -- and Toyota has hardly been adamant in its denials. In fact, you may remember the Tundra Dually Diesel concept shown at the 2007 SEMA show. Complete with an 8.0-liter turbodiesel I-6 from HINO and a five-speed manual transmission, it looked like a credible competitor to the Ford Super Duty and Chevy Silverado HD, not to mention the Cummins-powered Ram HD. The truck never got close to the showroom, in part because Tundra sales were nowhere near those of the segment leaders and Toyota decided to keep its efforts focused on improving the market share of its half-ton model.
Ford, Chrysler and GM don't break out sales of their HD models, but we know for a fact that half-ton trucks represent the vast majority of sales. And while the Detroit Three seem to have the HD market pretty locked up, let's not forget there was also a time when the idea of Toyota competing in NASCAR seemed pretty far-fetched too. That said, we're not holding our breath.
With a maximum payload of 1885 lb and a top tow rating of 10,400, the Tundra is hardly a weakling. But the F-150 offers a maximum payload of 3100 lb and a maximum tow rating of 11,300, so it's not head-of-the-class either. Especially considering Toyota going on-record saying it believed a naturally-aspirated V-8 to be a better choice for trucks than a turbocharged V-6, the best way for the company to show confidence in its strategy would be with higher towing and hauling ratings.
Improved Materials/Interior Styling
Competitors have stepped up their inside game considerably since the current-generation Tundra launched. Toyota has countered with the Limited and Platinum trims, bringing higher-quality premium leathers and woodgrain trim, but between the redesign of the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150, expectations for the segment have been raised. Style is now an expectation for the class as well as functionality,.
Keep the Rear Window
One item we have to give Toyota kudos for is its full-width one-piece power retracting rear window. It's a feature the Tundra has offered since 2004 and is still unmatched in the truck world. It's loved by owners and we're surprised nobody else has offered it yet. We're hoping there are more "surprise and delight" features like this on the new Tundra.
More Interesting Variants
This is one area the Detroit Three shine, particularly Ford and Ram. Ford has the ready-for-action Raptor, the plush F-150 Limited, kitsch-meets-classy King Ranch, and the just-right FX2 and FX4 trims that balance comfort, convenience and value. Ram has the Tradesman and Express, as well as the Laramie Limited. Sure, Tundra offers the TRD Sport and Rock Warrior packages, but neither comes close to the Raptor in terms of capability, styling differentiation, or content.
The TRD trims are just that, trim packages, but the Raptor is a legitimate stand-alone model that won't be confused with your gardener-special F-150. We've seen plenty of lifted Tundras with loud exhausts, tube bumpers, winches and custom grilles. It seems like there's a ready market for a turn-key tuned Tundra right off the showroom floor. The 2008 "Ironman" Tundra came close, with three stages of available options, including the aforementioned TRD supercharger, but aside from the addition of performance shocks, the suspension was not fundamentally different, as it is on the Raptor. Take the concept of the Ironman truck, and crank it to 11.
A street-oriented performance version would be cool too, as well as eminently producible. Toyota has some experience in this area as well, having made the Tacoma X-Runner a production model. Toyota also showed the Tundra Street Concept at the 2006 SEMA show, with a slick monochrome paintjob, unique grille and rear roll pan, and of course, the obligatory TRD blower on top of the already-potent 5.7-liter V-8. Although not usually offered on the regular-cab version, we have a feeling Toyota's legendary full-width power retracting rear window would be a hit with this custom-oriented crowd.
We expect the new model to be a credible and formidable competitor to the Detroit Three's offerings, and we can't wait to pit them head-to-head.