1996-2006 Toyota Tundra pickup truck history
This is a general history page. See our new Tundra page for 2007 and newer Tundra information.
1999: The Toyota Tundra replaces the Toyota T100
In 1999, the T100 was replaced by the more originally named Tundra (which some say was originally to be called the T150). Built in Indiana with a ladder frame and optional V8, it sold better than the T100 - which had only a V6 and was made in Japan, incurring import duties - but still did not seriously challenge any of the "Big Three." The Tundra was a half-ton pickup with two and four door, regular and access cab models, putting power to the ground through two or four wheels, depending on the configuration. Option packages were Base, Limited, and SR5, but all had the same frame and wheelbase. The V6 was carried over from the T100, along with the two transmissions (five speed manual, four speed automatic), but a V8 was added; there was only one frame and one wheelbase, limiting the number of configurations.
Some credit former Dodge sales chief Bob McCurry with pushing Toyota to build the Tundra, and to build it as an American truck.
The Tundra featured relatively strong safety ratings of four stars for the driver, and three for the passenger (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which uses a frontal offset crash test, rated it the safest full size pickup.
The base engine was a 3.4 liter 24-valve, dual-cam V6; the V8 was a 4.7 liter “iForce” engine with 32 valves and dual cams. The standard (and only) transmission was a four-speed automatic. The underside of the Tundra uses metal and plastic skid plates interchangeably to protect various components from accidental impact, with the plastic boasting lower weight and probably similar impact resistance.
In 2001, a TRD off road package was available with V8 models; bed-rail caps were made standard in access cabs, while a tailgate cap was added to the regular beds; all models had painted rear bumpers; options, colors, and packages were tweaked; the rear seats were modified; and the V6 engine emissions became 50-state legal, while alternators went from 70 to 80 amps.
In 2002, a limited slip differential was added for V8 models, and colors were tweaked again. The StepSide was added in 2003 along with standard antilock brakes and a new center console with two tiers.
In 2004, a Double Cab appeared, with a long bed and redesigned rear seats. The Double Cab has a bed longer (by about seven inches) than the F150 Super Crew or Nissan Titan Crew Cab. Rear seat passengers get their own heating and air conditioning ducts, and Tundra Double Cab also offers an optional rear seat audio and a rear seat DVD entertainment system with wireless headphones. Each rear seating position also includes a headrest and three-point seatbelts. The 60/40 split-fold-and-tumble seats offer an extra measure of cargo utility for carrying items the owner would prefer not to put in the bed.
In 2007, Toyota started building the second generation Toyota Tundra, which featured a 380 horsepower gas engine that outpowered all American light-duty pickups, while adding a heavy-duty frame and brakes; it is built in a plant in Texas with the capacity, which will almost certainly be realized, of 250,000 pickups per year. Click here for full details.
The cruise control sometimes goes about 5 mph above the set speed, then settles down; other times it can lug the engine (accelerate without downshifting properly). This appears to be a design issue in early Tundras.
At idle, oil pressure is very low by design; this does not signify a problem.
Doors have a light detent (door stop/hold) and tend to shut themselves or refuse to be held open; this is a design issue and probably not a single-vehicle problem.
First-generation Toyota Tundra performance parts
Generally, TRD performance parts are expensive, and you pay a lot for the added power. In return, you get parts custom designed for the vehicle for a good fit. We suspect similar parts will be available for the 2007s.
- Eaton limited slip differential, around $700
- TRD supercharger, $3,100 (both V6 and V8 models are available)
- TRD high-flow air filter, $78 (also see K&M)
- TRD high-performance oil filter, $21
- TRD shock absorbers, $390/four
- TRD cat-back exhaust, $630
- TRD dual cat-back exhaust, good for 3 hp, $760
- TRD headers, good for about 15 hp, $850 (O2 sensor must be added to remain legal; for V6)