Toyota rolls out new Tundra

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. officially launched the new version of its full-size pickup, the Tundra, at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The '07 model is an all-new design that embodies Toyota's desire to compete head-on with Ford, GMC/Chevrolet and Dodge in the lucrative U.S. full-size pickup market.

"The new Tundra is a true American truck that will set a benchmark in the full-size truck segment," said Jim Lentz, TMS group vp & gm. He pointed out the "Americanization" program for the '07 Tundra entailed engineering development controlled from Toyota's TEMA facility in Michigan with styling handled by its in-house Caltry Research & Design Centers in Newport Beach, CA and Ann Arbor, MI. The trucks' engines will be built at a Toyota plant in Alabama and the Tundra itself will be assembled at Toyota plants in Indiana and Texas.

According to TMS, a key attribute of the new Tundra is its ability to tow over 10,000 lb. That's made possible by a new 5.7-liter i-Force V8 gas engine mated to a new heavy-duty 6-sp. automatic. Other available engines are a 4.0-liter V6 and the 4.7-liter i-Force V8. Tundra also features heavy-duty front disc brakes and standard rear disc brakes.

The Tundra rides on a new "rock-solid" chassis platform with 30% higher tensile strength steel, stated TMS. It also boasts a "significantly expanded" wheelbase and an increase of 10 inches in overall length. The '07 Tundra is nearly five inches higher and four inches wider than the model it replaces.

The '07 Tundra comes in three cab configurations: Regular cab, four-door Double cab and four-door CrewMax cab. While the Double cab has front-hinged rear doors that open to 80 degrees for access, the CrewMax features the pickup market's only reclining and sliding rear seat.

Three wheelbases are offered for the Tundra range: 126.8 in. on Regular cab with standard bed; 145.7 inches on Regular cab with long bed as well as Double cab with standard bed and CrewMax; and 164.6 inches on Double cab with long bed.

The '07 Tundra retains Toyota's "three-grade strategy," which means choice of Base, SR5 or Limited interior trim levels. All told, the new Tundra is offered in more than 30 different models, nearly double the previous version.

Inside, a new "command and control" center provides an unobstructed view of the instrument panel and puts knobs, switches and buttons within close reach of the driver. All Tundra models feature a "class-leading, roomy passenger cabin" that gives front passengers four inches more shoulder room. Two-row models offer rear passengers nearly three inches more shoulder. Front passengers receive nearly four more inches of hip room while rear passengers get six inches more hip room.

There is greater interior storage with the addition of hidden storage compartments, second-row seats that double as work surfaces (two-row models only), and a larger center console box.

The new Tundra boasts a tailgate that can be opened and closed with just two fingers, said TMS. Robust dampers on the hinges 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, easy-to-turn HVAC knobs and adjustable headrests that allow drivers and passengers to ride to a work site without having to remove protective gear such as hardhats or gloves.

According to TMS, Toyota's Calty designers set out to complement the new Tundra's increased size by "creating a design with bold, brave and distinctive character lines that are different from anything on the road today... the new Tundra features a bold front grille, strong bumper and large headlights with a steely glare, conveying a strong and powerful physical presence." In addition, the truck's profile is said to reveal a "thicker body and taller doors with character lines and fender flares that add dimension and strength as well as an unwavering stance."

"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," added Lentz. "[The Tundra is] aimed at the 'True Trucker,' the true opinion leaders among full-size [pickup] owners. 'True Truckers' are highly credible because they use, punish, and demand the most out of the pickups they buy."

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