By on May 29, 2019

While Toyota remains tight-lipped about its next-generation Tundra pickup, the online commentariat is abuzz with rumors these past several months. The automaker holds no aspirations of unseating the Ford F-150 as king of the full-size truck segment, but numerous reports suggest Toyota at least wants to offer something on par with its modern domestic rivals. Perhaps even class-leading.

The rumors include the possibility of the Tundra sharing its new platform with its midsize Tacoma stablemate, the adoption of an air suspension system (or perhaps even an independent rear setup), and now this: a hybrid turbo drivetrain.

Having debuted in 2006 for the 2007 model year, the current-gen Tundra allowed ample time for speculation to build up. From TFL Truck comes the latest, with a company insider claiming high-end versions of the upcoming Tundra will adopt a hybrid drivetrain employing a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.

That’s the engine found in Lexus’ new-for-2018 LS sedan, which generates 416 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque without the assistance of electricity. The source claims the truck’s hybrid setup is similar to the wildly complex Multi Stage Hybrid System found in the LS 500h, with output projected to be in the area of 450 hp and 500 lb-ft. Toyota is reportedly aiming for a fuel economy figure of 30 mpg or higher. That’s a highway figure, surely.

If true, Toyota wouldn’t have the fledgling hybrid truck market all to itself. Ford’s F-150 hybrid should debut well before the next-gen Tundra arrives in 2021 or 2022. Apparently, the cab and bed of the new Tundra have yet to be finalized, so don’t expect to see a surprise early introduction.

While the Tundra boasts exceptional buyer loyalty, sales are falling off as the industry contracts. Volume is down 5.1 percent through the end of April. It’s the opposite situation for the Tacoma, which can’t seem to stop finding new buyers.

Adding a high-MPG, high-tech Tundra variant would help Toyota generate buzz for an often overlooked model that currently doesn’t even offer a V6. As Toyota left its full-sizer to wither on the vine, focusing instead on admittedly lucrative new crossovers (as well as sedans), rivals began offering turbo sixes, light-duty diesels, and even a turbo four. Compared to its Ford, GM, and Ram competitors, the Tundra is beyond ancient, boasting a porky curb weight, an outdated interior, and fuel economy that fails to reach 20 mpg in any configuration.

The changes made to the next-gen model will need to be extensive and meaningful.

[Image: Toyota]

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50 Comments on “Toyota Tundra Rumor Mill Swells With Hybrid Talk...”


  • avatar
    Mnemic

    I worked on its launch back in 2006, they indeed set out to compete and win against Ford, GM and Dodge back then – but that failed to happen, big time. That is why it was never really updated (never had more money dumped on it), they wanted to get their original LARGE investment back.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Every time there is a new Tundra, starting with the first one that replaced the T-100, it’s been “THIS is the Tundra that will seriously challenge the domestic boys.” And it never happens.

      The current Tundra is an absolute joke. I hope the next one at least makes an effort. I believe it will be a better effort than the current truck, but that isnt saying a whole lot.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        FWIW, when it came out in ’07, the Tundra DID blow everyone out of the water, in terms of specs anyways. The sales never really got a chance, as ’08 came and that was that. Their massive investment in the Texas plant followed by lackluster sales spooked them from really putting more money in to try and compete when the 2011 era domestics rolled around (3.5L Ecoboost F150, strong Ram Hemi, etc).

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          people buy what they want. nerds argue about specs on the internet and never buy anything.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Okay…when the 5.7L in the Tundra in ’07 could easily walk anything from a light (by a long shot) and was the strongest towing half ton in the segment, that strikes me as more than “nerd” specs.

            https://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/comparison-test/a15146674/2007-chevy-silverado-vs-dodge-ram-ford-f-150-nissan-titan-toyota-tundra-comparison-tests/

            In terms of power/acceleration it absolutely left the others for DEAD.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Well, if I ever want another of those magnificent all-aluminum 32-valve DOHC 5.7L V8 pick’m ups, I better buy one before they discontinue it.

    I knew this sad day would come.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      If they were smart, they would continue to offer an updated 5.7 alongside the turbo hybrid six. There are many folks who don’t trust turbo engines or hybrid setups. Fords take rate on the 5.0 F150 proves this.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Jon, too costly and the 5.7L’s fuel economy is not trendy.

        There’s been some talk that the largest conventional normally aspirated engine in the future Tundra, will be the 4.6L (Ye Olde Lexus LS460 engine).

        I’ve had three of those Tundra 5.7L engines and I am smitten with them. Outstanding engines, although a wee bit thirsty for those who care about such things.

        Fortunately, there’s still a little time left for me to get one. If I ever was going to buy another Tundra, I was aiming to get a full-pop 1794 with ALL the bells and whistles.

        It would really be the last truck I would buy during my lifetime.

        But for now, the daily driver is still the Southwind Motorhome. A little bulky perhaps, but it gets us where we need to go, and then some.

        • 0 avatar
          Menar Fromarz

          Ok, I’ll ask. As a former Southy owner myself, what year and model? I loved our ’95 GM P30 32 footer. Not sure about DD’ing the thing, although it’s not that crazy, just a smidge.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          “…Southwind Motorhome….”

          You probably do have a slightly above average tolerance for thirstiness, compared to the average car/pickup buyer… :)

      • 0 avatar
        SD 328I

        You mean it proves they trust them right?

        Ford stated recently that they have shut down some 5.0L V8 production due to less interest in their V8 motors on the F150.

        https://www.autoblog.com/2019/05/06/ford-f-150-pickup-v8-production-dwindling-demand/

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        You mean a take rate that recently prompted Ford to scale back production of the 5.0L?

        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2019/05/shrinking-f-150-v8-demand-prompts-shift-cut-at-ford-engine-plant/

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          nevermind that this guy refuses to acknowledge that “magnificent” Toyota V8 he fawns over is out-classed in both power *and* fuel economy by- of all things- a pushrod engine of the same displacement.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I expect the news any day now that Ford will be discontinuing the F-150 because Toyota is just killing them with their 100k-units-year Tundra.

      • 0 avatar
        WalterRohrl

        That’s still 100k sales per year that Ford would dearly love to have. At $10k per pop profit that’s $1 Billion, enough to pay for a lot of bonuses. Or lots of people being laid off…Tundras aren’t cheap and they aren’t fleet specials.

        Objectively the Tundra likely isn’t the best truck offered currently, but there’s little doubt that if Toyota really put their mind to it they could improve the Tundra enough over the next one to two generations to significantly put the hurt on the F150. They’ve done it in every other segment. I think the reasons they have not done so in full-size trucks are A) purely political and B) They still make a lot of money on Tundra and probably even more on Tacoma that is built on the same line and have no problems pulling in cash from every other product line. There are no plant slowdowns going on at Toyota plants.

        You may dislike Toyota and preach at the altar of Ford but it wouldn’t hurt to admit that Toyota does build products that A) in general do what people expect them to do and B) generally do so for longer and cheaper than most equivalent Fords and C) Toyota employs a LOT of Americans and invests a lot of money in this country. The real question is why/how did Ford squander what they had. It’s hard to see how Ford thinks that the future will be ALL about autonomy while at the same time thinking or heading toward the theory that everyone will be driving an F150. It won’t be both.

        I doubt you’ll answer as you never do when someone calls you out on your snark.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “but there’s little doubt that if Toyota really put their mind to it they could improve the Tundra enough over the next one to two generations to significantly put the hurt on the F150.”

          I agree with some of your comment, but the idea that mighty Toyota could take down the domestic trucks “if they only really wanted to” is bunk.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “I agree with some of your comment, but the idea that mighty Toyota could take down the domestic trucks “if they only really wanted to” is bunk.”

            I think the ’07 truck proved that. Come out with a truck that beats the pants off of the competition in any metric… doesn’t seem to matter.

          • 0 avatar
            WalterRohrl

            That quote, wherever you got it from, wasn’t from what I wrote above. However, lots of people in Detroit said the same thing about other segments over the decades. What makes trucks so special and sacred? They already did it with the mid-sizers.

          • 0 avatar
            WalterRohrl

            Edit – I was referring to the “if they only really wanted to” portion. Sorry for any miscommunication.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “What makes trucks so special and sacred?”

            Domestic truck owners of 2019 have much higher satisfaction compared to domestic car owners of the early 80s. It is harder to earn a brand defection in that situation, especially if Toyota refuses to offer “value” pricing in the segment.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “Tundras aren’t cheap and they aren’t fleet specials.”

          Neither are F-150s. The big F-Series fleet sales are F-2/3/4/550, which Toyota has no competitor against.

          “generally do so for longer and cheaper than most equivalent Fords”

          show your work.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            https://www.thedrive.com/news/27730/second-toyota-tundra-pickup-hits-a-million-miles-serviced-at-same-dealer-as-the-first

            Jim any million mile F150s made in the last decade or so to share? No, they’re all chattering cam phasers and breaking plugs on their 5.4Ls :P

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            https://www.autoblog.com/2010/10/26/man-hits-1m-miles-in-ford-f-250-in-four-years/

            how long do we want to sit around cherry-picking unicorns?

          • 0 avatar
            WalterRohrl

            Many F150’s are garden variety supercabs in white that I see contractors give to their employees. The Tundra ONLY competes with the F150, the 250’s and above are still counted with the 150’s but many people assume that the 1million sales number only counts the 150, as you know, that’s not true and hence any Tundra sale instead of an F150 sale represents a greater percentage of the business than commonly acknowledged.

            Show my work? On what, Toyota doing a better job than Ford when they want to? I think Ford already did that for me when they discontinued and gave up on various market segments. They certainly didn’t give up anything that they were beating the pants off the competition with.

          • 0 avatar
            WalterRohrl

            That’s an F250 not a 150. Not picking on your cherries but I think everyone is arguing that Toyota specifically doesn’t have anything to compete with the 250 and up so not really fair to pull that one out since you believe an HD truck is better anyway.

            But this bit, (especially the last ten words), from your link is a bit ironic: “And it appears as though Ford never expected the F-250 would surpass one million road miles, as the digital odometer stopped working once the milestone was reached”

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “but… but… a couple of them went for a million miles so they should have 100% marketshare!”

            Where exactly did I say or imply that? Some real brain-dead stuff.

        • 0 avatar
          EGSE

          The disparity between Toyota’s success in passenger vehicles and lack thereof in pickups is simple…..the domestics have in general built decent pickups, more so than in other segments and have recently outpaced Toyota. The NA customer does not have a compelling reason to run away from the Detroit offerings.

          When the ’07 Tundra came out several of my colleagues bought them. As they neared end-of-life they have been replaced almost completely by the D3 trucks, significantly by the RAM (I cannot recall ONE Tundra being replaced by another Tundra but leave the possibility open as I am not all-seeing). These are engineers and are very discerning shoppers. They are by nature driven by data and perceived performance as opposed to emotion. The fact that they initially bought Tundras showed they were not driven by price as the Tundra commanded a premium at the time and they commented on the price disparity. These are DD vehicles used to haul themselves and family and have no “work” aspirations.

          The commercial pickup users in the D.C. MSA don’t buy the Tundra in any meaningful quantity. As I witnessed the colleagues referenced above selecting the Tundra I kept on the lookout for Tundras with lettering on the sides or equipped for obvious work use (ladder racks, lots of contractor-specific equipment/tools, etc) or by profiling the occupants as other than just “passengers”. The number I’ve seen can be counted on one hand. I see dozens of the Detroit 3 trucks every time I venture out. This is in an area where foreign sedans/SUVs have a strong foothold. The Tundra has done modestly better in the passenger market but the D3 still convincingly dominate.

          The above is anecdotal information gathered by casual observation but Toyota’s lack of market penetration of the full-size pickup segment is beyond doubt in what should be one of the best areas in the U.S. for them.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I agree with you. It is hard to get people to switch brands when they are largely happy with what they’ve got. I’m not a truck buyer, but I was impressed by the current Tundra when it first came out. However, at this point it definitely feels like it comes from an earlier era.

            If we are going to Monday Morning Quarterback, I think Toyota made two big mistakes:
            1. They put a “Toyota Tax” on the truck. Contrast that to the “value” pricing strategy when the Lexus brand was launched.
            2. They never made an HD Tundra. I know a lot of Toyota fans that ended up with a domestic HD because there wasn’t any alternative. I think the HDs also give a minor ‘halo’ to the half-tons.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            but… but… a couple of them went for a million miles so they should have 100% marketshare!

          • 0 avatar
            WalterRohrl

            Ajla – I find your second point interesting. “2. They never made an HD Tundra. I know a lot of Toyota fans that ended up with a domestic HD because there wasn’t any alternative. I think the HDs also give a minor ‘halo’ to the half-tons.”

            So if I understand you correctly if Toyota made an HD version and if it was as good compared to the domestics as the ’07 Tundra was vs the competition at the time, then a lot of your Toyota fan friends would seriously consider it? And having it would improve the perception of the Tundra even more (assuming that Tundra gets updated in a timely fashion instead of being left to wither)? Toyota builds plenty of heavier duty commercial vehicles, the Tundra is not the biggest thing they make, but they don’t sell that stuff over here. There’s no real barrier, any knowledge about product (or culture of the product which may be more important) that they may for some reason not currently have they can always buy/hire in. Ford’s laying off a lot of talent these days, I’m sure some of them would be motivated by a job offer from Toyota.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “They never made an HD Tundra.”

            The Tundra is basically a “5/8th ton” marketed as a half ton, in the same way the 1st gen Tundra was 7/8th of a half-ton (7/16 ton?). I think that was their problem. It’s is just too beefy and crude for what the average half-ton shopper is looking for these days, which is something that can knock down low 20 mpg on the highway as a commuter. I guarantee the next gen Tundra will be lighter-duty overall, more inline with other half tons with their lightened control arms, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            “The disparity between Toyota’s success in passenger vehicles and lack thereof in pickups is simple…..the domestics have in general built decent pickups, more so than in other segments and have recently outpaced Toyota. The NA customer does not have a compelling reason to run away from the Detroit offerings.”

            This is what Detroit defenders are too myopic to understand. Detroit never had to build anything as good as a Toyota to keep their market share. All they had to do was not treat their customers like victims. Anyone that thinks the 2007 Tundra failed to establish Toyota as a major player in half tons because it was an inferior product is willfully ignorant at best. Toyota built the best truck at a time when Ford was selling Tritons. It didn’t matter to Ford buyers. It was the cars Detroit built in the ’70s and ’80s where the paint fell off, the windshields leaked, the oil went out the tailpipe and basic comfort features were reserved as options on premium models that made the Camry and Accords America’s cars.

          • 0 avatar
            ChevyIIfan

            Another big issue is the Tundra struggles for people wanting to legally tow a travel trailer with a 1/2 ton truck without having to jump to a 250 or up. Payload on a Tundra maxes out around 1300 lbs, which means the heaviest travel trailer you can tow while carrying a small family (say 3 and some light gear) and legally staying within your payload is about 5000 lbs. You can push it a bit higher if you and your spouse are tiny and don’t carry much, but otherwise 5000 lbs loaded trailer is about all you can tow legally without being over the Tundra’s GVWR. You can readily get Ford and Chevy 1/2 tons with payloads closer to and exceeding 2,000 lbs, which allows for a much larger trailer to be safely towed with a 1/2 ton truck.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            @Walter – No one here is saying Tundra sales are insignificant compared to F-150 sales (as opposed to F-series), But a Tundra sale doesn’t necessarily cancel out an F-150 (or any other fullsize).

            My parents stay within Toyota vehicles and “upgraded” to a Tundra from a Tacoma and that’s probably where Toyota is focused. Compared directly to a Ram 1500 or F-150? It doesn’t stand a chance.

          • 0 avatar
            WalterRohrl

            @DenverMike – “No one here is saying Tundra sales are insignificant compared to F-150 sales (as opposed to F-series)”

            Actually that is specifically what JohnTaurus was sarcastically insinuating in the comment I originally replied to.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Yes they “could” put in “real” effort, but still at a significant gamble and Toyota isn’t a fan of risk.

          Except the Tundra’s biggest fail is marketing. Toyota insists on selling it no different than the Camry, plus Toyota needs to embrace fleet sales and other cheapskates. Or is it greed? Either way these segments are very expensive, especially without huge volumes to offset them, plus lots of luxo truck sales.

          But there’s no way Toyota is clearing anywhere near $10K taxible on Tundras. If they were, then possibly they “could”.

          • 0 avatar
            WalterRohrl

            I didn’t necessarily mean to imply that Toyota was clearing the $10k per unit, my point was that I believe Ford may be with their larger production volume and thus potentially higher economies of scale, especially if these were generally higher dollar trucks, not the low-line specials that Toyota doesn’t offer. And thus if Ford were able to pick up all the volume that Toyota has (which I agree is obviously unlikely but theoretically possible) then that’s the money left on the table.

          • 0 avatar
            WalterRohrl

            At this point Toyota’s Texas factory is running at max production with a mix of Tundra and Tacoma. Another Tacoma factory is slated to come online soon if it hasn’t already done so. Running flat out negates (or negated) any need to engage in less profitable fleet sales or cater to the “cheapskates” you referred to. As Tacoma production and sales increased, Toyota has over the last few years removed the lower profitability Tundra variants from the catalog which makes sense. Likely they make more money on each incremental Tacoma unit than they did on a landscaper’s Tundra. Toyota is certainly NOT selling them like they do the Camry where they’ll do whatever they need to in order to make the sale. Tundra has discounts to be sure but it’s no fire sale.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The Tundra has Camry marketing all over every it. Or it could be any Toyota. You get about 3 trim levels with very few options, meaning the list of forced options is very long. That obviously slashes build costs and the amount of trucks a dealer needs to stock. .

            The Big 3 love fleet sales and cheapskates. Not that they wouldn’t love to move more options and upgrades, and you can only force X amount before buyers ‘walk’, but fleet-white trucks fly off the assembly line, all virtually identical, or dozens/scores that are. Companies/utilities/etc drive them into the.ground and come back for more. And many fleets run a decent percentage of 4X4 multi cabs and mid-trim for supervisors and mid managers.

            Clearly it’s good to run a factory a full capacity, up to a point. How many sales are they turning away? Growing pains?

            If the Tundra went away, I doubt too many displaced Tundra buyer would scramble to the F-150. They’re probably not locked in on pickups necessary. Once you’re on your 2nd or 3rd pickup in a row, you tend to get very specific on the trim, options, packages, engine, etc, even exact axle ratios.

            The Tundra screams if casual and or 1st time (or only time) pickup owner, and it seems Toyota is ticked to death by it!

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            “…I’m sure some of them would be motivated by a job offer from Toyota…”

            @Walter – Yeah it would be non union, and located in the south, like as in Tijuana, where the other Tacomas are built, including the beds for all Tacomas.

            Another great reason Toyota builds and sells Tundras “on time” is far less rebates/incentives are necessary.’

        • 0 avatar
          retired

          I worked for Toyota for 30 yrs, now retired. I seen alot and heard alot. The truth is Toyota really never really cared to increase tundra sales. The plant in texas can’t make any more. They have been running over time saturdays for the last 8 years or so and the factory makes max profit. So they really were happy just selling the old tundra.Dealers are crying for more. Changes are coming for the Tundra and the Taco going to Mexico will free up room to build more. Trust me Toyota makes it money by making each factory the most profitable. They really don’t care what we think.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      HDC says “magnificent all-aluminum 32-valve DOHC 5.7L V8” in reference to a Tundra article. Drink!

  • avatar
    Hummer

    No way they would get rid of the 5.7L, without it their sales would be lucky to match half of what the Risgeline pulls in.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Time to add D4S injection (which equivalent dual port and direct injection Ford already has on its F150 engines) to that Toyota 5.7l DOHC. New cylinder heads required as well. The 5.0l Coyote V8 is more advanced than this lumbering old giant.

    Adding the Lexus LS hybrid setup isn’t a bad idea. With the low sales of those things, some investment needs to be recouped by churning out a few more 3.5 V6 twin turbos.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I’m sure that 30mpg number is the city number as that is where most hybrid designs shine.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I just gave back a Fusion Hybrid SE rental, averaged an indicated 43mpg with a highway drive to Chicago and back, mostly at 75-78mph and A/C use. Not too shabby at all considering its 3700lb heft. The thing is, I’ve gotten 40+ mpg out of a Passat 1.8TSI and Optima (2.4 NA) doing similar drives. I agree, city is where hybrids really shine. On the open road, regular 4 cylinder sedans are getting some incredible numbers.


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