2014 Toyota Tundra rolls into the Chicago Auto Show
Toyota upgrades its full-size pickup to go toe-to-toe with the best from the US.
Within the U.S. automotive industry the Chicago Auto Show is historically known as the venue for automakers to reveal new pickups. With a crop of new trucks from Chevrolet, GMC and Ram, the pickup market is heating up once again. Toyota is determined to keep up by offering a new Tundra for the 2014 model year. The Japanese automaker promised better, more chiseled looks for the Tundra, and a more refined interior, both of which are necessary to compete in the combative full-size pickup segment. The new Tundra may not be enough to put a big dent into domestic pickup sales, but it should keep Toyota in the game.
2014 Toyota Tundra
What is it? A full-size pickup to go toe-to-toe with the best from the U.S.
What's hot? The 2014 Toyota Tundra does have a more chiseled appearance. Each trim gets a distinct look, and we think they are all sufficiently aggressive for the macho U.S. pickup market. Perhaps more importantly, Toyota claims a more refined interior, and that's important with high-quality new interiors from Ram, and soon, General Motors. A quick look around the interior reveals improved materials with more and more soft-touch surfaces as you move up the model range. Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera and eight airbags, including dual knee bags, are also standard on all grades.
The model lineup consists of the base SR, the SR5 (Tundra's sales leader), the better equipped Limited and two upscale grades: the Platinum and the 1794 edition, named for the year a ranch was founded in San Antonio, Texas, the land where the Tundra is now built. Each range gets unique design and interior appointments. The dashboard is redesigned, but it keeps large buttons that can be controlled while wearing work gloves. The crew cab, called CrewMax, gets more front and rear legroom, and the rear seats can fold down for improved storage space. The Platinum comes with features such as Toyota's Entune infotainment system and segment-exclusive blind-spot monitor and rear-cross traffic alert, while the 1794 is Southwestern themed, with saddle brown leather upholstery.
It will take a test drive to determine how well the new Tundra drives, but Toyota says retuned shocks smooth out the ride, while steering feel and straight-line stability are improved and interior noise is diminished.
What's not? The 2014 Tundra uses three carryover engines, all of which are quite capable, but Toyota is saying nothing about improved fuel economy. The base engine is a 4.0-liter 270-horsepower V6. The next step up is a 4.6-liter 310-horsepower V8, and the top-line engine is a 381-horsepower V8. Toyota also says the bed is all-new, but mentions no improvements to utility, such as with GM's damped tailgate and rear bumper step.
How much and when? The 2014 Tundra should start around $25,000 and top out at or above $50,000 when it goes on sale in September.
MSN Autos' verdict: Americans like American trucks, and even if it's built in Texas, the Tundra has a Japanese name, so it will never challenge the Ford F-Series for the full-size pickup sales lead. Nonetheless, the Tundra is a quality truck with plenty of capability, and the 2014 model looks better and promises to be more refined. It will continue as a competitive option, even if it won't be a best-seller.
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, and currently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.
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Let's stick to the facts boys: there are pros an cons about every truck. Unless you've really driven any of the trucks how can you give your opinion on anything other than looks? I've driven both the Dodge Ram and Tundra. Each has its own pros and cons.
Here's my question: how many of us are going to continue to buy new trucks when the sticker price keeps going up, up, up? I'm not buying another new truck.