Until a few years ago, the full-size pickup truck market was largely the domain of domestic automakers Dodge, Ford and General Motors. That stranglehold began to erode when Toyota introduced the Tundra for the 2000 model year and when Nissan debuted its Titan for 2004.
The Tundra has been criticized by some as a not-quite full-size pickup truck, but it has grown in size during its life cycle, with the launch of new versions like the Double Cab model — which has measurements comparable to full-size trucks offered by the domestics — and the redesigned 2007 Tundra.
As with its recently redesigned Sienna minivan, Toyota spent time researching the needs of buyers. The automaker targeted the "True Truckers" full-size pickup truck audience, according to Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales group vice president and general manager. This segment includes individuals who depend on their trucks and are influential among their peers.
"It's the most important tool in their lives," Lentz said. During the unveiling at the Chicago Auto Show, Toyota attempted to drive home the Tundra's ruggedness by having a scruffy-faced driver pilot the Tundra onto the stage.
The 2007 Tundra will be offered in base, SR5 and Limited trim levels, and can have one of three cab styles, one of three bed lengths and either rear- or four-wheel drive. No announcement was made regarding diesel or heavy-duty versions of the Tundra. It hits dealerships in early 2007.
The Tundra's front end is dominated by a large chrome grille reminiscent of the automaker's FTX concept from a few years ago, and it's flanked by rectangular wraparound headlamps. The slightly stepped front fenders recall the design of Dodge's Ram, and the Tundra's flanks are smooth and free of adornment.
The large rear taillamps wrap into the sides of the cargo bed, and the rear bumper is chrome. Toyota paid extra attention to the design of the tailgate, which the company says can be opened with two fingers and has a damper system that prevents it from bouncing when driving with the tailgate lowered.
The Tundra features recessed gauges and large climate-control knobs that, like the exterior door handles, are designed to be easy to operate with gloved hands. A large center console can swallow a laptop computer, and the glove box is large enough to hold a normal-sized thermos. Available options include a JBL premium audio system and Bluetooth technology for interfacing with cellular phones.
Under the Hood
Three engines are available. The 4.0-liter V-6 produces 236 horsepower and 266 pounds-feet of torque, and the 4.7-liter V-8 generates 271 hp and 313 pounds-feet of torque. Topping the range is the 5.7-liter V-8, which makes 381 hp and 401 pounds-feet of torque.
The two smaller engines drive a five-speed automatic transmission, while the 5.7-liter V-8 works with a new six-speed automatic. A trailer hitch is integrated into the frame, and Toyota says the Tundra, when properly equipped, can tow up to 10,800 pounds.
All-disc antilock brakes, an electronic stability system, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags are standard. The Tundra can have an optional camera in the tailgate to improve visibility when backing up or hitching a trailer.
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