Toyota has released their new 2014 Toyota Tundra and I got a special invite to test drive it. It is bolder and has an improved interior, is it enough to convert truck buyers? Maybe.
The name of the game for Toyota for years has been to convert loyal truck buyers into Toyota truck owners. This has been especially challenging in the full-size truck market that it so brand loyal. There have been inroads made, yet Toyota hasn’t hit its sales target of 200,000 units ever. Will this new truck finally do it?
One of the first things you have to realize about the new Tundra is that Toyota purposefully wanted to make it look more American and more brawny. This thought comes from customer feedback that it simply looked too small compared to the competition. It doesn’t now. The new front and grille (polarizing to many) really grabs your attention in photos. In person, the grille isn’t quite the monster it seems, but it does stand out. The hood has been raised 1.6″ and there are no “shoulder” lines along the side. The rear has a new tailgate with an aerodynamic spoiler and Tundra stamping on it.
One of the best new features has to be the three-piece tailgate. Anybody who has ever towed knows that you can easily damage your tailgate backing in to hook up. Now, instead of buying a new tailgate, you can just buy the piece you dinged. This is extremely smart and will save consumers money.
The biggest makeover is in the interior. It is much more streamlined and has a better sitting angle. There is a new dash that is a lot easier to read than the “racing-style” gauges of past models. The seats have an improved ventilation system and the Entune system has been moved closer to you. All in all, you sit better, things are closer and it is easier to reach items.
With these “improvements” comes some disappointment in that many of the extra storage compartments are gone. The second glove box is gone and the slide and recline rear seats are switched for fold-up style. The interior may be more refined now, but it comes at a cost.
A big focus for Toyota is the ride comfort of the truck. The triple-tech frame has lots of advantages when towing and loading yet it really suffers in regards to ride comfort. Not interested in going with a new frame, Toyota tasked their engineers to improve the ride with the tools they had. They did a great job of improving the dreaded bed box. It is a much smoother (albeit stiffer) ride than previous models. The truck holds the on center feel a lot better – a huge deal for long trips and towing. The suspension tweaks along with the vortex generators have really helped.
The 2014 Tundra is in many ways an improvement over the previous generation truck. However, with no improvement in fuel economy, drive train (arguable if it needs one) nor any new features, it sure lacks in the excitement department. Many buyers will opt for the latest and greatest thus leaving this truck behind. That is a shame, the 2014 Tundra is a worthy competitor to the other trucks on the market.
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