Aimed at hard-core pickup users and engineered largely by Americans, the 2007 Toyota Tundra competes with big American rigs by towing over 10,000 pounds with an American-made V8 engine using Japanese electronics, coupled to a heavy duty six-speed automatic transmission. The Tundra comes with four-piston calipers and vented rotors on the front brakes, high capacity cooling and electrical systems, and a chassis with 30 percent higher tensile strength steel than the 2006 models. Heavy duty versions (three-quarter or one-ton), on par with the F-250 and F-350 Ford pickups, are on their way, as are larger-cab Toyota Tundra pickups.
An industry insider noted that the Toyota Tundra was engineered using quite a few former Jeep-Truck Engineering and Ford people, with many of the people who built the trend-setting 1994 Dodge Ram on the team. This engineer noted that the parts were used as specified, not cheapened as they were in their American counterparts - for example, the rear axle is a 10 inch ring and pinion, while Dodge uses 9.25 inch; the propshaft U-joint is a 1480 Spicer, while Dodge uses a 1310 Spicer; and the manual transmission input shaft uses 1 3/8 inch teeeth (18 of them) while Dodge uses 1 1/8" teeth (10 of them). (By spreading the loading over a larger gear root width, you increase durability at a greater rate than you increase unsprung weight.) “There are still a few items I would change, such as full floating front hubs instead of bearing packs, but overall, nothing on the market currently touches the Toyota for durability in the components.”
Thus, Tundra will actually be heavier duty than its American competitors with similar ratings, not because it was designed with superior Japanese engineering, but because experienced American engineers and managers were used - but not second-guessed by incompetent executives and bean-counters. “The Toyota is more Ram than the Ram is.”
2007 Toyota Tundra product planning began in Southern California, with engineering 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 and Ann Arbor. The Toyota Tundra is built in Princeton, Indiana and San Antonio, Texas; the latter can pump out 250,000 trucks per year. Personnel from Princeton trained and guided the employees in Texas. Some early trucks from Princeton contained Japanese-made 5.7 liter V8 engines, but all Texas trucks will have American-made engines, and the Japanese-sourced engines were only a stopgap measure.
Early sales were less than expected, but Toyota ascribed that to the American habit of buying off the lots but with definite features and combinations in mind - something Toyota dealers are not used to. The variety of vehicles on a particular lot is not as wide as with the Americans, with their much larger inventories (which are not by any means an advantage for profitability). Toyota has responded by letting dealers swap trucks outside of their regions.
The plant came in well over budget, as Toyota built in more flexible building technology at the last moment, as well as more capacity to deal with rapidly expanding American sales. Toyota may have been encouraged by reports that brand loyalty for pickup owners is not as high as it used to be, with nearly half of all American pickup owners switching to a rival brand at trade-in time (source: Automotive News quoting from the Power Information Network).
Tundra’s full-size platform has a much longer wheelbase than the 2006 model and an increase of 10 inches in overall length, along with five inches of height and four inches of width. Three engines are available, the aforementioned 5.7 liter V8 (the same size as the Dodge Hemi), a 4-liter V6, and the current 4.7 liter i-Force V8. The V8s are both made in Alabama.
Toyota Tundra styling is bolder, with a front end that resembles the 1993-99 Dodge Ram. Inside, a "command and control" center provides an unobstructed view of the instrument panel and puts knobs, switches and buttons within close reach of the driver. The interior has four inches more shoulder and hip room up front, with more storage compartments, second row seats (in two-row models) that double as work surfaces, and a larger center console.
The Tundra includes the standard Toyota triple grades of Base, SR5, and Limited, but will have over 30 different models altogether. Underneath, they look like this:
The Tundra features a tailgate that can be opened and closed with just two fingers. Robust dampers on the hinges have been added to help cushion the tailgate when opening and also help reduce bouncing when driving with the tailgate down. Other design features with workers in mind include large door handles, inside and out, easy-to-turn HVAC knobs, and adjustable headrests, allowing drivers and passengers to ride to their next work site without having to remove protective gear such as hardhats or gloves. Extra large side mirrors provide a wide field of view, while reducing wind noise and image vibration. A hitch is integrated into the frame for better stability when handling heavy loads.
The Tundra is loaded with standard features and an array of options and accessories, such as a JBL premium audio system with Bluetooth telephone compatibility, 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, and a wide-screen backup camera integrated into the tailgate handle for enhanced rear-view safety.
The Tundra got a four-star driver safety rating for head-on collisions in the US NHTSA tests; GM, Ford, and Dodge pickups got five stars. The difference may be extremely small or fairly large depending on the actual score. Test results from the insurance agency testing group are not in yet.
For 2009, changes include a standard chrome front bumper on Tundra Grade Double Cab and Crew Max; the Limited Crew Max gets the Power Memory Package as an option instead of standard. E85 flex-fuel capability is now standard on 5.7 liter 4x4s in some regions, and two new TRD option packages became available.
Expect to see half-ton, one-ton, chassis cab, and clean-diesel versions - the latter might be coming very soon, courtesy of Toyota’s acquisition of Isuzu, a master of clean-diesel technology. A diesel would increase the Tundra’s “street cred,” would greatly increase gas mileage, and would attract a range of gasoline-disdaining buyers (including biodiesel users and producers).
Oil changes seem difficult: Take off a skid plate. Remove plate where filter is housed internally. Pull out drain for filter housing. Pull out filter. Some are already asking about spin on filter adapters.
A number of bad torque converters have been used on the V8 model; Toyota appears to be extending the warranty to ten years on this item when it is replaced.
An American truck would have a lot of American components. An Automotive News report noted a number of suppliers for the Tundra other than the usual Denso (these are from all around the world):
Spec 2007 Toyota Tundra Wheelbase 145.7 Length 228.7 Width 80 Height 76.4 Bed Length 78.7 Bed Width 50 min, 65 max Bed depth 22.3