Toyota unveils updated 2014 Tundra at Chicago auto show

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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With Ford making mild styling updates to its bestselling F-150 every couple of years and all-new GM and Ram pickups grabbing headlines, a refresh of the full-size Tundra will be good news to Toyota fans and its dealers. The big workhorse has become a favourite amongst import brand truck buyers since the new larger version launched in 2006 as a 2007 model, but with seven years under its beltline by the time this new 2014 Tundra hits the market later this year it's high time for a remake.

The changes are mostly skin deep, however, with more aggressive styling that includes a larger and much bolder rectangular grille with either chrome or body colour surrounds and various inserts depending on trim level, plus a new three-part front bumper. Of course there's a new hood, headlights and front fenders to match, with new side styling highlighted by those squared off fender flares, as well as a new rear design with a reworked tailgate integrating its broadly stamped "TUNDRA" nameplate and a spoiler plus updated taillights. Yes, it's a complete makeover from front to rear, and one that's dramatic enough that a lot of current Tundra owners will want to trade up while some disenfranchised domestic pickup owners may want to switch sides.

At least as important in wooing prospective buyers is an updated interior that features a revised instrument panel design integrating a new 6.1-inch standard infotainment system with a standard backup camera, standard Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and more. Also new, a Blind Spot Monitor system with Rear Cross Traffic Alert is now optional.

"Toyota took customer feedback to heart when developing the 2014 Toyota Tundra," commented Larry Hutchinson, Managing Director, Toyota Canada Inc. "In fact the Tundra's new exterior design and all-new interior were conceived to meet and exceed customer needs and desires for a more chiseled exterior and refined interior with improved driver ergonomics and intuitive technology."

Behind that intimidating new grille is the same engine lineup as with the current Tundra model range, including its base 4.0-litre V6 with 270-horsepower and 278-pound-feet of torque, optional 4.6-litre V8 with 310-horsepower and 327 lb-ft of torque, and top-line 5.7-litre V8 with 381-horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. The entry-level six soldiers on with a five-speed automatic while both V8-powered Tundras continue forward with six-speed automatic transmissions. Toyota makes no mention of undercarriage modifications, so we have to surmise that the 2014 Tundra gets carryover frame and suspension components.

Toyota does make a point in its press release highlights to reiterate that its Tundra is "Engineered, Designed and Assembled in the United States" so that those thinking of opting for Toyota's truck can feel comfortable that they're mostly buying North American; the truck includes 75-percent North American content. Why switch? The Tundra is worthy of the "epic reliability" claim given to its subcompact Yaris, a point made clear by winning the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study for seven years running in the Full-Size Pick Up segment. It was engineered at the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, incidentally, and was restyled at Toyota's Calty Design Research centre in Newport Beach, California, while assembly takes place at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, in San Antonio, Texas.

The new 2014 Tundra will once again be offered in three body styles including two-door Regular Cab and four-door Double Cab models in both 4x2 and 4x4 drive layouts, and the four-door CrewMax in standard 4x4 configuration, while trim levels continue to include a base work truck and an SR5, the Tundra's volume leader. A luxuriously appointed Limited model makes the grade again too, albeit significantly revised inside, as does the top-tier Platinum above that which also gets upgraded from the current version. Entirely new for 2014 is the oddly named "1974 Edition" which pays tribute to the founding year of the ranch that used to stand where the Tundra's San Antonio assembly plant now resides. The top-tier 1974 Edition gets exclusive premium saddle brown leather upholstery with embossed leather and ultra-suede detailing, plus matching soft-touch materials for the instrument panel, shifter console, and front and rear door trim.

All Tundra trim levels get greater differentiation than in previous years, with dramatically different grilles that go from a black insert in base work truck guise to chrome and brushed metal overload with the 1974 Edition. Likewise the Limited gets the same unabashed chrome grille surround (there's so much bright metal that the photographer can't escape being seen in a close-up shot) and a unique matte metal insert, while the new Platinum is probably the most interesting in that the only bright metal it features is on the matte silver grille insert (which matches the wheels) plus chrome mirror caps and door handles, the grille surround being body-colour as are the bumpers front and rear for a tailored look that should appeal more to city slickers.

The 2014 Toyota Tundra will be available in all trim levels when it goes on sale across Canada in September.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Pickup, Toyota, 2014, Tundra, $20,000 - $29,999, $30,000 - $39,999, $40,000 - $49,999, $50,000 - $74,999, Full-size,

Organizations: Toyota

Geographic location: Chicago

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