As U.S. consumers flock to showrooms in search of big trucks, Toyota Motor Corp. hopes to cash in on the craze with the launch of a revamped Tundra full-size pickup.

The automaker unveiled its 2018 Toyota Tundra at the Chicago Auto Show on Thursday. Together with a mini facelift and updated standard safety features, the new truck is set to hit dealer lots this summer.

The most noticeable aesthetic on the 2018 Tundra full-size pickup is the freshened front end that features new grille designs and headlamps.

The base SR and SR5, have a new mesh look complemented by halogen headlights with a black bezel. The Tundra Limited, Platinum and 1794 Edition get a billet-style grill and LED headlights. All trims are now equipped with LED Daytime Running Lights as standard.

Toyota tundra TRD Pickup Truck side

2018 Toyota Tundra. (Photo: Ryan ZumMallen/Trucks.com)

But the engine choices continue unchanged. A 4.6-liter V8 engine is available with 310 horsepower, along with a 5.7-liter V8 with 381 horsepower.

The Tundra plays an important role in Toyota’s U.S. portfolio. In 2016, light trucks – which includes pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers – accounted for 60 percent of all vehicle sales, up from 55 percent in 2015. Sales of full-size pickup trucks grew by 2.7 percent in 2016.

Yet the Tundra has failed to gain traction against full-size heavy hitters from Ford, Chevrolet and Ram.

Toyota sold about 115,000 Tundras in 2016, which is a far cry from sales of nearly 490,000 Ram pickups, 575,000 Siverados and more than 820,000 F-Series trucks.

 

Full size pickup truck sales 2016

(Source: Autodata Corp.)

Tundra sales also contracted 2.9 percent in 2016, and its market share in the segment shrunk from 5.4 percent in 2015 to 5.1 percent in 2016.

“There’s very little that Tundra can do to challenge the other three in terms of sales volume,” said Stephanie Brinley, analyst for global market research firm IHS Markit. “So what Toyota and Tundra need to work on is making sure the truck they produce is profitable and meeting the needs of their customers.”

Toyota does not offer a heavy duty full-size truck, Brinley said, which other brands sell for higher prices and can increase credibility among truck enthusiasts.

In addition, competitors have introduced new models or made significant improvements in recent years, and the Tundra has struggled to keep pace. Market research firm J.D. Power classifies the Tundra as not having a full refresh since 2007.

And the new truck does not take measures to improve fuel economy – its most efficient 2017 trim earned a last-in-class EPA rating of 16 mpg for combined city and highway driving.

Toyota tundra TRD Pickup Truck

2018 Toyota Tundra. (Photo: Ryan ZumMallen/Trucks.com)

Despite Toyota’s struggle to make inroads with the Tundra, its mid-sized Tacoma pickup truck is still the top dog in its segment. The Tacoma sold more than 190,000 units in 2016 and captured 45.1 percent market share.

This illustrates Toyota’s familiarity with mid-sized trucks, compared to a steep learning curve for larger ones, Brinley said.

“Full-size pickup trucks are largely [in the U.S.] and in really small volumes anywhere else,” she said. “Tacoma is a global product that has been successful in a lot of different markets. I think that’s why it’s easier for Toyota to get their head around the Tacoma.”

Historically, one bright spot for the Tundra has been its array of standard features. New for 2018, all trim levels include the Toyota Safety Sense-P (TSS-P) package at no added cost. TSS-P includes:

  • Lane Departure Alert
  • Auto High Beams
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control that maintains a safe distance with the car ahead by speeding up or slowing down on its own
  • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection that activates audio and visual alerts to warn the driver of a possible accident, followed by automated braking to reduce or avoid the collision if necessary\

“Safety is one of the driving motives of why people choose one vehicle over another,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of Global Automotive at J.D. Power. “It should certainly help to compete against Chevy and Ford, but I don’t know whether by itself it’s enough to really significantly move the needle on their sales.”

“I think they’re trading on their brand and the fact they do have a loyal fanbase,” Sargent said.

The Tundra’s reliability and strong resale value are also among its best attributes, he said. “From a consumer standpoint it’s a really good vehicle but I think they do struggle in terms of image.”

The 2018 Tundra may not be a significant leap forward, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable, Brinley said.

Toyota tundra TRD Pickup Truck

Toyota Tundra TRD. (Photo: Toyota)

Toyota also used the Chicago show to debut an off-road focused Tundra TRD Sport, outfitted by the brand’s Toyota Racing Development unit. The Tundra TRD Sport is equipped with TRD Sport Tuned Bilstein Shocks and TRD anti-sway bars both front and rear for added performance. Tundra TRD Sport models will be powered by the 5.7L V8 engine and could energize Toyota enthusiasts, Sargent said.

“Special editions and adding new models are really good at reaching the vehicle loyalists and it gives them something to be excited about,” she said. “Even if they don’t buy right now.”

Toyota will announce price information closer to when the 2018 Tundra goes on sale this fall.

Related: Tacoma Truck Owners Stymied by Delayed Recall Repairs

44 Responses

    • Jerry Hirsch
      Jerry Hirsch

      Toyota will announce price information closer to when the 2018 Tundra goes on sale this fall.

      Reply
    • Kevin

      There is only one reason I would buy a Ford or Chevy diesel, because Toyota doesn’t make one!

      Reply
      • Terry

        Well said. Waiting for the day Toyota is finally able to bring its Diesel into the US Market. Last “US Corporate” vehicle purchased by me is my 1997 F-350 Powerstroke. Been waiting for Toyota ever since.

      • Marc

        Amen! I am waiting for a diesel! Not having a diesel option is killing them in my area (south) everyone wants one I know, but refuse to by a tundra that gets 9 to 13 miles to the gal. Please Toyota! Get it together and get us southern men a diesel tundra!!!!

      • alex

        I wanted to buy a Tundra but looking at 2018 Ford because it will give me a diesel. Never though I would buy a Ford.

  1. John Eutsey

    Way to go Toyota, another year of falling behind. Was looking forward to a Tundra Diesel for the past few years I’m done! GMC can have my sixtty grand !

    Reply
  2. Ben

    So much for getting the new 2018 tundra. I have a 2007 and I’m not waiting anymore. I guess I get a duramax now. Sad, had a 2003 sequoia and a 2006 4runner, now have a 2007 tundra, 2011 sequoia. I bought into the D4s and 8/10 speed hype for 2018. FAIL!

    Reply
  3. Mike

    If it aint broke , don’t fix it.

    My brother has a 2017 F150 King Ranch and he has said ‘ One more GD problem with this thing and I’m going to drive it right through the dealers showroom window’

    My 2012 Tundra has 178K and I will be trading it this coming fall for a 2018 TRD….no problems no headaches that’s Toyota.

    Reply
    • Scot

      Hey Mike, sure might be interested in buying your Tundra this fall. Please let me know…

      Reply
  4. Danny Kermicle

    The Tundra is the ugliest truck on the market and has been since they changed the body style. I’ve got one and love it, but it’s UGLY. If they would make the Tundra a good looking truck like the Tacoma is, it would sell better. Then they could get 45% of the big truck market.

    Reply
    • terry

      people buy a truck for its looks? what it needs is a beefier engine, then it will sell more

      Reply
      • joe

        Yes, they do. Toyota knew this through their research when they attempted to penetrate the heart of the big truck market in Texas, and “Built in Texas”. Through research, they knew sons bought the same trucks their dad’s do out of loyalty, and they don’t care so much about reliability, and that they want a good-looking truck. Yes, that’s the logic of many truck buyers.

      • guy

        i got a 1792 pull a 50 hp tractor never lacks for power best power building engine on the earth,best hook on n i haul ass with it

  5. Randy

    Agreed Danny K! The grille, headlight, hood scoop design is clunky, & ugly. How hard is it to analyze popular truck styling from the past & retro design something for today? Look at 1/2 tons from 1967 – 1972 Chevy, 73 – 79 F-series, 88 – 97 Chevy trucks, they were true to conservative clean lines, not the humongous chrome grilles common today. Example, the 2017 Super Duty makes me puke, I’d order flat black to hide all the body lines. Get back to clean, classic styling, with Toyota reliability and the too big 3 will wither.

    Side note, glad Toyota haven’t succumb to the cylinder deactivation common these days.

    Reply
  6. Doug

    I’m really surprised Toyota doesn’t do more to make the Tundra competitive with the domestics. It’s not a bad truck but without a heavy duty option, and better fuel economy in their gas engines I feel like Toyota is still living 10 years in the past when this true full size truck was introduced. Toyota has a ton of cash for R&D but I guess it feels that resale and reliability is enough to sell their 100K units per year while the domestics keep get better and more reliable.

    Reply
  7. Mark Hansen

    Just sold my 2005 Tundra with 241,000 miles on it. This was the first Toyota I ever owned. By far the best, most reliable vehicle I have ever had. All I ever did to it was brakes, oil, tires, and the timing belts…absolutely love that Toyota reliability. I own a business that requires lots of miles on my truck, so guess what I replaced it with? You guessed it, a 2016 Tundra Platinum (love the look by the way). Planning on 300,000 worry free miles on this baby as well. With that kind of proven track record for reliability, why would I even consider a truck from the big 3??

    Reply
  8. Gary

    Any suggestion on where to find new 2016 leftover tundras ? My 2005 PreRunner is still clean and spotless with only 125,000 on it with the big v6 . Bought that 05 in 2006. thanks for any feed back

    Reply
  9. Jeremy Caldwell

    Toyota is resting on its laurels. It was a great truck Yesteryear. They seem to be, like Jaguar, content with putting out a half way finished redesign and expect that consumers wont notice GM, Ford, or Dodge improvements. I love my 2006 Tundra, but when i get ready to drop $50K on a truck soon, I want all i can get for my $50 grand.
    They need to step up their game in fuel economy as well as their electronics and apps, as they are lacking in comparison to GM, Ford and Dodge in recent years.

    Reply
  10. Jim S.

    Had three 4Runners and now the 14′ Tundra to tow my RV trailer. It is the only truck I would trust to go to Alaska last summer (14k round-trip). So you ask me what don’t like. I have no issues with the styling. Fuel economy is what I expected. I just wish it had a more updated drive-line. My towing capacity is only 9900 lbs. at which I tow a 6k trailer now, but are looking for a large RV trailer. Even if they did something in the 11k towing range, It would open up more future trailer options. I heard 2020 was going to be the next generation Tundra. I have lost all hope on a diesel ever being put in a Tundra. 2020 will put me in my next vehicle swap range, so here is to hoping.

    Reply
  11. Rajan Oommen

    I have 2007 Tundra Truck thinking of buying nissan Titan because of the safety features .Never had Nissan What you all think about Nissan

    Reply
  12. Sunny

    I had a 2008 Tundra. Drove it for 260K in oilfield, then sold it to friend in 2014 and bought platinum version. I just ran it with oil changes and tire changes. My friend still owns it. Truck has 380K now and he still hasn’t changed anything mechanical on it. This is very reliable truck and has enough power when you need it.

    Reply
  13. Don

    Toyota is arrogant and does not listen to their loyal owners. For eight years now we have been asking for a simple rear locking differential, which all manufactures have . That wouldn’t take away from the reliability, its just a locker. They fall short on not even allowing you to pick a different gear ratio. No real improvements on the interior, No Flexibility on packages. Why can’t you have a choice of interior colors when you buy a top grade Platinum or 1794?. You go to build a new Tundra on Toyota.com and you can literally build it in 2 minutes, because there are no choices to have except trim levels. A good example is when they decided to end the FJ Cruiser, which was another stagnant truck for 7 years. The last year was suppose to be the “Ultimate Edition”. They literally recycled the same interior from the last year edition, which did not even go with the new color scheme. The “new ” tundra you see in the picture is the same Tundra as before with a few cosmetic garnishes. The only think I see really different is offering the scooped hood. Big deal !! I have been a Loyal customer and have bought at least 10 new Toyota’s in the last 13 years and after my last dealing with Toyota about a technical problem I am pretty much done.

    Reply
  14. Steve Zerr

    Could they please build the crew max with a longer bed ,

    Reply
  15. Mohamed

    I hope they fix that mole problem on the air condition vents them I have the 2015 and in 2016 my AC smell like cat piss and the say it mole and cannot fix it Z change the cabin filter and cleans the vents and it still smell no I’m waiting on them to leave the truck with them when they lead technician comes in town can I use the truck because my daughter have asthma and now they’re saying for not to have this problem before you reach you need to turn the AC off leave the fan run and who remembers to do that

    Reply
  16. Jeff

    I luv my 2014 Tundra, because when I go down the road I don’t see a Tundra at every red light like I do the sheep truck (F150…overrated junk). Also, the reliability of Tundra and the reasonable price was another attraction to this awesome truck. especially like all 8 cylinders firing at once…not that BS cut-out technology that gets you two MPG more…who cares about gas mileage…I like the sound of 8 cylinders not 6 eco-tec BS crap.

    Reply
    • Chris

      Agreed! I love my 2017 Tundra. Not one thing I would change inside or out. Best sounding truck when you fire it up too! As long as they keep making them I’ll keep buying them!

      Reply
  17. Tony Asbille

    What about the NissanTitan truck with the Cummings diesel? Been hearing good things. Anyone here have one?

    Reply
  18. Steve Zerr

    Will the crewmax ever offer a 6’6″ bed ,I really like my 2012 tundra crewmax but it sure would be nice to have that choice ???

    Reply
  19. Reg

    This 2014 Tundra limited is my second Tundra. The first one was the 2007 Tundra limited . I put 300,000 on the 2007 Tundra and 3 people were in in a bidding war when i sold it privately. No problems at all with either of them and the 2014 has 115,000 with not one warranty issue. With Tundra moving forward with options like a diesel the issue is Toyota has to replace Mike Sweers ( chief engineer) with someone that has an open mind and gives consumers what they want and not what he wants on his own driveway. Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, Ford, Gm, and many more globally recognized auto manufactures have diesel vehicles as an option so what is up with Mike Sweers?

    Reply
  20. Michael

    I have a 2015 Tundra. Bought it with a false sense of hope that Toyota was going to release a diesel within two or three years.. No success.. Currently searching and looking forward to buying the new RAM 2500 w/Cummins Diesel. Should have bought that to start with. Don’t care about resale value. Who needs it when you plan to keep the truck until it falls apart or you die??

    Reply
  21. steve

    Here’s the thing, none of you understand how things work in the Toyota world. I have worked for Toyota for 30yrs in a manufacturing facility. One they don’t care to be the biggest seller of trucks. They only care about making money. They do it by building vehicles that last and keeping defects down. If there is a defect or recall they truly want to fix it. If dealers are not satisfying customers they are not following Toyotas morals. Local design engineers have no say in engine changes only styling and such. They became #1 in sales and prophet by keeping each factory running at full cap. As for the Tundra, that factory can’t handle more sales so they keep the same engine because the cost to R&R a new one would lower prophets, so why do it. They revamp styling to keep the sales up to the factory cap. As long as the engine works and prophets are there they won’t change it so stop waiting. This is how Toyota works, keep improving quality and keep each factory making money, PERIOD!! They don’t care about being #1 just Prophet. #1 is just happens.

    Reply
  22. mitch

    Had a 14 crew max 4×4 great truck only issue was chrome came off the TRD wheels at 20K. Good thing it was under waranty.

    Reply
  23. robert w

    I really enjoy my Tundra, 2013 mocel, 5.7. the suprise is that on open road between austin and dallas with speeds at 75 mph and slightly above, i get better gas milage than at lower speeds. I average right at 18 mpg. Only thing i don’t like is the jack rabbit start. At a dead stop, the slightest touch of the gas generates an immediate surge.

    Reply
  24. jim

    the tundra is a good truck if they changed gear ratio from 430 to 355 like ford or gm the fuel mileage would b much better .I have a 2016 ltd dbl cab in 14 they removed a lot of options like jbl radio power folding mirrors with signal and puddle lamps not to mention a few more items their entune radio is not very good replacement Also they need to add more insulation to the cabin .Larger tires make the vehicle look more like a truck .TIME for some improvements TOYOTA

    Reply
  25. Fred B

    I have still have the 2005 Tundra Crew Cab. Why do I still have it?

    The “newer” version is not as well rounded as the original, including:
    * There is no long bed offered on the crew cab. The shorter bed has much less capacity.
    * The interior is not as well designed, including: less living space, the raked front windshield reduces headroom significantly (its also a head banger!), the elimination of the rear lowering window, a very plastic dashboard, and difficult electronic controls.
    * Gas mileage is WORSE than my old version
    * The mechanical improvements (engine, drivetrain, and other beef-up improvements) are not important to me.
    * The truck has fallen behind even further in the last 5 years.
    * And it’s never been a nice looking vehicle, compared to its predecessor and competition.

    I appreciate the importance of reliability(me) and profit (Toyota), and I will think about that a lot when I don’t buy my next Tundra.

    Reply
  26. Michael Dd

    Would trade in my Dodge 1500 Eco-diesel TODAY for DIESEL TUNDRA!
    Losing hope that there will ever be one 🙁

    Reply
  27. Dennis Hammack

    I am still waiting for the DIESEL to come on line. I have been waiting for TWO years, I will wait TWO more but no longer. We have to have a new truck by then if not before. Either bring it on or stop talking about it and improve a Gas engine with better mileage. It is 2020 or never.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.