First Drive: 2005 Toyota Tundra
By: Mike Magda, Editor Posted: 08-18-04 22:07 PT
© 2004

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Toyota continues its march toward overcoming the stigma of building less than a fullsize pickup with the 2005 Tundra. Following the introduction last year of a Double Cab model that boasts extra room and a 74-inch bed, the new Tundra will offer a new, best-in-class base V6 engine and pump 42 more horsepower into its standard V8. The 4.7-liter V8 also gets a new 5-speed automatic transmission, and the V6 is teamed with a new 6-speed manual or the new 5-speed auto. That’s lots of news for a truck that’s getting a complete makeover in less than two years.

The 32-valve, DOHC V8 is now rated at 282 horsepower, up from 240. The improvements also added 10 more lb-ft of peak torque: 325 lb-ft at 3400 rpm. The V6 comes in at 245 horsepower with a peak torque rating of 282 lb-ft at 3800 rpm.

The engine changes give Toyota bragging rights to the most powerful base V6 offered in a fullsize pickup. The Dodge 3.7-liter V6 is rated at 215 horsepower followed by the Ford 4.2-liter V6 at 202 horsepower and the Chevy/GMC 4.3-liter V6 at 195 horsepower. The Toyota V6 also has the edge in torque by 22 lb-ft over the Chevy engine. (Note: some competitive figures are based on 2004 numbers as 2005 information was not available at this writing.)

The upgraded 4.7-liter engine is now the third most powerful of any base V8 in a fullsize pickup. Nissan, which offers only one engine in its Titan, leads with its 5.6-liter V8 rated at 305 horsepower followed by Chevy/GMC’s 4.8-liter V8 rated at 285 horsepower. The Dodge 4.7-liter V8 is rated at 240 horsepower followed Ford’s 4.6-liter V8 rated at 231 horsepower. The Tundra V8 is second only to the Nissan in peak torque: 325 lb-ft compared to 379 lb-ft for the Titan.

Of course, Chevy, GMC, Dodge and Ford offer larger V8 engines for their half-ton pickups, topped off by the 345-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi from Dodge.

“A major source of Toyota’s future light-truck growth in America will be fullsize pickups,” says Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager at Toyota.

Toyota says it’s already selling every Tundra produced at its Princeton, Indiana, assembly plant. For the first half of 2004, Toyota recorded sales of 51,177 Tundras. That’s up from 47,261 in the same time period of 2003. For all of last year, Toyota sold 101,316 Tundras, up from 99,333 in 2002. Tundra’s best year was 2001 with just over 108,000 units. The Tundra is built on the same assembly line as the Sequoia, a fullsize SUV, and the hot-selling Sienna minivan.

But Toyota will open a new truck plant in mid-2006 in San Antonio, Texas, to start building the next generation Tundra, which comes out as a 2007 model. Since Toyota will have twice the capacity to build fullsize trucks, the automaker will have to sell twice as many. Given that Toyota currently sells about one-fourth to one-fifth as many half-ton pickups as Ford or Chevy, company officials feel they have to build a truck as big as Detroit’s models to compete on an equal footing. The Tundra half-ton pickup has been labeled a “90-percent” or “nine-tenths scale” truck since it came out in 1999. But the Tundra also appealed to a different market of shoppers who wanted docile road manners, refinement and a solid reputation for quality. Toyota already showed off its vision of the future at the 2004 Detroit auto show with the almost abnormally huge FTX concept truck. The 2004 Double Cab and the new engines for 2005 are more practical hints that Toyota will no longer just dabble in the fullsize truck market. The company intends to be a major player.

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