By Bruce W. Smith -
Austin, TX—As U.S. automotive manufacturers continue to lose big chunks of the new car market to Honda, Nissan, and Toyota, the pickup side of Ford, Dodge, and GM are being setup to suffer a similar fate.
Toyota just pulled the wraps off their 2007 Tundra—a completely redesigned model of the popular pickup that will now be bigger and stronger than the Ford F-150 with an American-built V8 more powerful than the much revered Dodge Hemi.
When the first models come off the new Toyota truck production plant in San Antonio, Texas, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Princeton, Indiana, late this year, they could very well spell gloom in Dearborn and Detroit.
The Tundra was first introduced in 1999 as a 2000 model. Since then, it has won numerous awards and has been recognized for its value, quality and reliability.
The completely redesigned 2007 Tundra is even bigger, more powerful and will offer new body and engine configurations. It’s an impressive truck from what we saw at the Texas preview.
“From bumper-to-bumper, under the hood and from the inside out the new Tundra is a true American truck that will set a new benchmark in the full-size truck segment,” said Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) group vice president and general manager.
“It will be aimed at the ‘True Trucker,’ the true opinion leaders among full-size owners. True Truckers are highly credible because they use, punish, and demand the most out of the pickups they buy.”
During the press briefing, Jim Press TMS president and COO said, “Tundra will again offer the most comfortable, quiet and refined ride in the full-size truck segment. Its build quality, reliability, and durability will, again, be second to none.”
It’s a statement Ford, GM, and Dodge can’t take lightly. The expanded size and power of the new Tundra will be reflected in its ability to tow “more than 10,000 pounds,” besting the F-150’s present towing capacity of 9,900 pounds.
Press and other Toyota executives continually alluded to the new Tundra’s power under the hood.
An all-new 5.7-liter i-Force V8 engine—designed specifically for truck application and manufactured at Toyota’s Alabama engine plant—is said to be “significant competition” to the much lauded 345hp Dodge Hemi found in the full-size Ram pickups.
Although Toyota execs wouldn’t give any specifics to the power rating (they will probably be making changes right up until production), Toyota has always been known for making lots of power from their engines. Seeing 350 or more horsepower from a true Toyota truck engine is not a stretch of the imagination. The new V8 will be mated to a new heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission.
In addition to the new powertrain, the ’07 Tundra will also come equipped with heavy-duty front disc brakes with four-piston calipers and vented rotors increased by nearly one and one-half inches, and standard rear disc brakes. This setup would, again, put the new Tundra at the top of the performance list in full-size pickups.
Not only is the new Toyota pickup and engine built Statetside, development of the new Tundra was spearheaded by Toyota’s U.S.-based facilities with all of the engineering development directed by the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Styling, inside and out, was the work of Toyota’s Calty Research and Design Centers in Newport Beach, California and Ann Arbor, Michigan. – Bruce W. Smith