The battle for pickup truck supremacy got a little tighter Thursday as Toyota introduced its redesigned 2014 Tundra full-size truck at the Chicago Auto Show.
The automaker hopes this new model will be able to lure buyers away from Ford's perennial bestseller, the F-150. It will also go head-to-head with the new lineup of Chevy and GMC trucks that debuted at January's Detroit Auto Show, and the Ram 1500 that was named North American Truck of the Year, also in Detroit.
To do so, Toyota will expand the Tundra lineup to include two new premium trim levels, giving buyers a choice of five. These upscale lines will target an expanding range of truck consumers who are looking for all the amenities they might find in a luxury car but wrapped in the everyman practicality of a truck. Ford's and Ram's versions of these feature-laden trucks can easily eclipse a $50,000 price tag.
The Tundra's new trim levels will be Platinum and 1794 Edition. Platinum trucks will come with perforated leather seats that are heated and ventilated in the front, a 12-speaker JBL sound system, navigation, and a blind-spot monitoring system.
The 1794 Edition takes the Platinum's luxury one step further by including saddle brown leather seats with suede trim, and leather-trimmed doors, shifter and instrument panel. This model also gets unique exterior trim denoting its supremacy over lesser Tundras. This model is named in honor of the ranch on which the Tundra plant is built in San Antonio Texas. The ranch was founded in -- you guessed it -- 1794.
Below these high-end models will be the entry-level SR, the volume-selling SR5, and the slightly upscale Limited. The trucks will come in regular cab, double cab or four-door CrewMax iterations. All Tundras will come with a rear-view camera, Bluetooth, stability control, traction control and eight airbags including driver and passenger knee airbags.
The engines on the 2014 Tundra are largely carry-overs from the current generation. The base engine is a 4.0-liter V-6 that makes 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a five-speed automatic transmission.
Two V-8s will be optional, both paired with six-speed automatic transmissions. The smaller of the two is a 4.6-liter unit that makes 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque. A larger, 5.7-liter engine makes 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque.
Toyota says the new Tundra will go on sale in September. When it does, the new model will look to continue the Tundra's recent upward trend. Sales of the current Tundra rose almost 23% last year, to just under 102,000, but that still trails rivals from Ford, GM and Chrysler by a wide margin.
Ford's F-150 pickup was the bestselling vehicle of any type in the U.S. last year, with sales of almost 650,000. The Chevrolet Silverado was second at almost 420,000. The Ram pickup was also among the top vehicles last year, with sales approaching 300,000.
Regardless of brand, truck sales in general are expected to surge in 2013 as the housing market and construction picks up. It will be a battle for supremacy, indeed.
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