It’s difficult to grow share in the pickup segment, said Robert Karwel, senior manager of the Power Information Network at J.D. Power Canada.
“It’s the reality of the segment and how much effort the Detroit Three put into the excellent product they offer,” Karwel said.
However, “Stakes are high, profits are high, profile is high, so it’s worth pursuing even in anticipation of just gaining an extra point or two of market share.”
Tundra production peaked at just over 240,000 in 2007, when an additional plant was assembling the pickup. In the five years before the pandemic, production averaged about 130,000 Tundras per year in the plant shared with the Tacoma.
The 2022 model, expected to go on sale late this year, represents the first full redesign of the Tundra since the 2007 model year. The new pickup mimics key features from its rivals: a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V-6 engine with a hybrid option (think Ford F-150), a 10-speed transmission (Ford F-150, GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado), a coil-spring rear suspension with optional air springs (Ram) and a composite cargo bed (optional on the GMC Sierra).
The Tundra also has a fully boxed frame for increased stiffness and a large, aggressive grille. Extended or full crewcab bodies are variously combined with 5.5-, 6.5or 8.1-foot box lengths. Interior updates include an available 14-inch main touchscreen and a 12.3inch digital gauge cluster.
The maximum tow rating is 12,000 pounds (5,500 kilograms), up from 9,700 pounds (4,400 kilograms) but still below Detroit’s numbers that currently range from 12,750 pounds (5,800 kilograms) for the Ram 1500 to 14,000 pounds (6,400 kilograms) for the F-150.
Instead of one-upmanship, “We focused on meeting the SAE [Society of Automotive Engineers] requirements and Toyota’s requirement for confident and natural” towing, said Mike Sweers, executive chief engineer of Toyota truck programs.
The new V-6 is rated at 389 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, eight horsepower and 78 more pound-feet than the previous 5.7-litre V-8.
The optional electrified i-Force Max hybrid version makes 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet. Unlike the F-150, however, the Tundra hybrid does not offer an onboard power source for worksites or camping.
“It’s a cool feature, but how much will the customer pay for thattypeofoption?”Sweers said. “You could buy a 10-kilowatt gas generator for less money.”
The Tundra shares a platform with the new Land Cruiser utility vehicle and an unspecified third vehicle. As a result, the Tundra gets off-road capabilities beyond what would normally be engineered into a pickup, Sweers said.
Unlike some rivals, however, the Tundra does not offer full-time all-wheel drive, just part-time four-wheel-drive high/4WD low.
VALUE FOR THE LONG HAUL
Of importance for the Tundra is the Toyota name, said Brian Murphy, managing director of Kelley Blue Book & Data Solutions.
“When we look at retained value, Toyota trucks do very, very well, and not just in terms of the truck segment.
“It is an important factor, but some consumers may not realize what a good thing they have going until it’s time to sell it.”
The Tundra’s two biggest markets in Canada are Ontario and Alberta, according to the automaker.
Danilo Moran, general sales manager at Medicine Hat Toyota in Alberta, doesn’t think his customers will miss AWD or the V-8 engine. Other automakers already offer a turbo V-6, he said, “and not a lot of people with a V-8 Tundra have expressed concerns. It still has the tow capacity and with better gas mileage. “I’m not one to drink the Kool-Aid all the time, but I think they did a really good job — something for everybody.”
According to Toyota Canada, about two-thirds of Tundra sales include the core TRD packages that are offered in the base Double Cab and Crew Cab models. The rest is split between entry (SR5, Trail) and higher grades (Platinum, TRDPro).