• Jan 15th 2007 at 12:54PM
  • 58
Details on the Toyota Tundra have been slowly trickling out since its debut in Chicago last year, and finally, the manufacturer's display at the Detroit Auto Show put all the goods for our inspection. This, along with the recently-released specs, has given us a better idea of how the Tundra might stack up against the competition.
A recent print rag showed up in our mailbox with the breathless proclamation that the Tundra "could be the truck that breaks the Detroit 3's back". That's maybe a bit premature; as we've seen, the Tundra has some advantages and, yes, some potential drawbacks when compared to competing products from the Motor City.

Keep reading for our opinion and analysis of the Tundra's underpinnings, complete with photos from our gallery.

Toyota made a big deal about the construction of the Tundra's frame, but to be honest, we're not sure that it matches up to the structures of the competition.

Where as the Tundra makes use of open C-channels under the bed, closed frame rails are used by Dodge, Ford, and GM on their newest designs. Closed sections, of course, are generally stronger and stiffer for the same mass.

Does this mean that the Tundra's frame is weaker than other comparable trucks? Certainly not -- but it is interesting that the company choose to use a construction technique that has been abandoned by the Big 3.

Up front, we see the same double-wishbone and coil-over shock design that is now being utilized on trucks produced by the Big 3 (torsion bars having been replaced largely because they're difficult to package and require beefy reaction points).

We'd prefer to see a full tubular upper control arm (as has been used on-and-off in recent years by the Big 3), but stamped upper members should prove to be plenty strong for the task.

Down below, Toyota has eschewed the cast aluminum lower control arms currently in favor, and instead used a weldment formed from stamped steel sections. We can't -- and won't -- make a definitive statement on which is "better"; it's simply interesting to note the divergent path taken by Toyota.

Seeing the transfer case tucked up tightly into the frame made us smile, as this greatly reduces the change of getting high-centered. We'd prefer to see a skidplate that's tied into the crossmember, however; that would improve the chances of smoothly gliding over a protrusion such as a stump or rock.

Out back, a 4" aluminum driveshaft carries torque to a Hotchkiss-style rear axle. The large diameter is necessary to avoid vibration at high speeds with the optional 4.30:1 rear gears; aluminum is used to keep the weight somewhat reasonable, and follows the trend set by other manufacturers.

The axle housing is manufactured from stamped steel. This has the disadvantage of being potentially less resistant to direct hits on the "pumpkin" than those axles using a cast center section; on the other hand, this type of construction should be stronger and stiffer than those Salisbury axles that use tubes that are pressed and spot-welded in place (they have a bad habit of bending or separating when abused). Keep all four wheels on the ground, and either design will work well.

Note the use of dual catalytic converters on each side, indicating that a bit of extra effort was required to clean up the powerful iForce V8.

Aisin supplies the six-speed transmission, which is a rarity in the Tundra's class (GM's new six-speed will be available in the Sierra Denali). It gives a broader gear spread than the competition's four- and five-speed boxes, which when combined with the iForce's huge power (a class-leading 381 HP and 403 lb-ft) will out-accelerate and out-pull anything in its class. Fuel economy isn't anything to write home about, but what'd you expect from a three-ton vehicle with nearly 400 HP?

Given that automotive transmissions are traditionally the weakest link in a half-ton truck's drivetrain, we'll be anxiously awaiting durability reports from the field.

Toyota has a reputation for straightforward and functional interior design -- so, um, what happened here? The radio is merely a mild offender in an interior that might be the worst we've seen in a pickup truck since GM's atrocious '88-'94 full-size trucks. The Americans seem to have really trumped Toyota here, and that's not something we thought we'd be saying in 2007.

So, what's the verdict? Will Toyota take market share away from the Big 3, or will the new Tundra suffer from the same minimal impact as its predecessor? Solidly in Toyota's corner are the Tundra's killer drivetrain, and the huge brakes (13.9" in front and 13.6" out back), are also a big plus in our book (those inclined to run wheels 17" or smaller probably feel otherwise). The chassis, however, may not be up to snuff, and the interior is disappointing to say the least. We'll leave the topic of exterior styling alone, as: 1) it's strictly a personal matter; and 2) in our opinion, the industry in general has collectively proceded too far down the pseudo-big-rig path.

We don't think that Toyota will have a problem selling all 200,000 Tundras that it plans to build each year, but gaining share beyond that will not be a battle won in the short term. The Big 3 will not cede ground as it had in the passenger car market over the past three decades. Fortunately, we consumers will all benefit from this latest shot in America's largest vehicle segment.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      "37. it's funny how these dumbnuts keeps on talking about shitty interior, when all they are seeing is a radio faceplate..what a bunch of whinner.

      Posted at 7:46PM on Jan 15th 2007 by Fan 0 stars"

      Dude, this is the most blogged about car on Autoblog lately-we've all seen the interior-because just a few days ago they blogged about the crewmax. Oh, we've also seen it elsewhere.

      So who's the dumbnut now?
      • 8 Years Ago
      The radio looks like it was designed in 1985.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think its also important to realize that the Tundra is only in its second generation. Ford and Chevy have had DECADES to build their admittedly excellent truck lines. I think Toyota should be commended for putting such a competitive package together, especially since they are so dominant in the passenger car segment.
      • 8 Years Ago

      Those incentives are worse in my region. for three months now 0% to 60 months or $3000. they had a lease on them for a while that was a .8% interest rate and a two year residual for a 36 month term.

      I have learned many things while working for various brands, as well as just being a gearhead with a marketing degree, and thats never doubt Toyota's market research. They went after the Taurus/Sable when it was the best selling car in America. Now they are going after the trucks. Its a bigger gamble, and the jury is still out, but if they pick up an extra 10% in marketshare of the trucks thats an extra 200,000 vehicles.

      Reading a company report tells you that 43% of Ford f-series owners buy another. 35% Chevy. 30% Dodge. Thats by far the most loyal any buyer is to any single vehicle (brand buyer to brand buyer is much higher, but f-series to f-series, etc. is what this stat is comprised of) What this tells you is that 57% of 900,000 vehicles a year shop other trucks or vehicles just from Ford trucks alone. Thats a large share of people open to changing vehicles, if you can build something that gets attention, you may get that 10% more marketshare that Toyota thinks they can attain. Whether it be from Nissan, GMC, Chevy, Dodge, Ford or Yugo, they want it and they see an opportunity...

      • 8 Years Ago
      The 5.7L engine for the tundra is built in Huntsville,AL so there is at least one part of the truck made here. I am not a fan of the tundra. In my humble opinion, it uglier than any of the other trucks on the road. It does appear to be up to par (or just below) with the other full size trucks. As far as the frames go, my experience with mini-trucks with air suspensions is that boxed is by far better. Just my $.02
      • 8 Years Ago
      I,m sure the Toyota Tundra will compete very well against the Big 3. However, they will not give these trucks away. Don't look for any dealer rebates like you would at Ford, Chevy and Dodge. Because Toyota, the liberal press, green groups and Darrell Waltrip have everyone believeing Toyota is the greatest. Therefore, you Mr. and Mrs. Consumer will have to pay full retail price for one of our Toyotas. I'd would say buy an American truck because they are just as good if not better for a more reasonable price. American trucks are a better value.
      • 8 Years Ago
      mkbruin - Rear differential ring gear (for 5.7l V8) is 10.5" and burly. Rear differential/axle is manufactured in Arkansas, with parts from a variety of US companies - axles, brakes, bearings, stampings, castings, etc.

      Not only does Toyota have increased Isuzu share, they also have their commercial truck division, Hino Motors - which has been making clean-emission diesels and turbo-diesel-electric hybrids for a few years already.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ok. Why don't you answer some of these questions? Tundra or Silverado:

      More TORQUE at a lower RPM?
      STANDARD with side curtain airbags?
      Brake assist/EBD standard?
      4 wheel DISC brakes standard?
      Longest wheelbase?
      More shoulder/leg room?
      Best ground clearance?
      Tightest turning radius?
      Largest standard wheels?
      4 piston brake calipers?
      Towing capacity?

      Future quizzes to come. Good luck.

      • 8 Years Ago

      Hey Texan

      I live in Texas too - and I'd be willing to bet that the Tahoe and Yukon (which are built in Arlington) provide way more jobs than the Tundra. Based simply on the parts content, and the sheer volume of trucks built. Toyota did indeed create some American jobs, no doubt, but the sheer numbers are still no where near what the Big 3 create in this country.

      (btw - I like the new GMC Sierra as far as trucks go) - the new Tundra is just goofy looking.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Weaker constructed frame than the domestics
      Horrible interior
      Exposed t-case and alluminum front diff.
      Tin Foil driveshaft
      4.30 gears? Why not offer several different ratios ranging from 3.55 through 4.56? Give the customer a little flexibility to chose the gears that best represent their interests/needs?
      What size is the ring gear in the rear axle?
      What is the front alluminum center section? Is it a D44 based unit?
      What is the fuel ratings here? You say it is not something to write home about, but what are the numbers!?!?!?!?!

      To me it looks like an also-ran. It appears that toyota spent too much money making a truck that is supposed to 'look' like a domestic and not enough money on the parts that count (frame, suspension, options, etc.)
      • 8 Years Ago
      There have been some complaints about the interior from the mainstream automotive press also, but reviews have been exceptionally positive overall.

      Check out the article at edmunds.com/insideline
      • 8 Years Ago
      A new Tundra owner. I have pulled with this truck and it handles it with little effort. It sits higher and has a very smooth ride while pulling heavy loads. Friends have your GM's and Fords and are considering Toyota for the truck and comfort. The question is the durability? Being a new truck and design but again it's a toyota so it will last awhile. we will see.
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