2014 Denver Auto Show Recap – Tundra Frame Changes?

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I was recently at the  2014 Denver Auto show for the media days. Between eating and drinking too much, I learned a few things. Here is a recap.

I found this Tundra TRD PRO sitting next to the Tacoma and 4Runner. What’s interesting is this truck is the same one used in the videos and it is the same one which was unveiled in Chicago. Apparently, there really is only one Tundra TRD PRO in the world. I climbed underneath and you could see all the dirt and how much Toyota has beat this truck up testing it. I hear the testing period is over and they are making final adjustments before it goes to production. Look for it in the fall.

Before I begin, I want to share how much I love auto shows. Where else can you in one day talk with Ford, GM, Ram, Toyota and Nissan? The Denver show is a “regional” show, so you don’t get the “big wigs” or big car reveals. Yet, the regional PR reps that do come have some interesting pieces of information.


The HUGE piece of news I have on the Tundra is they are working on reworking the frame under the bed. The goal is to improve ride quality. My guess is Toyota is sick and tired of being badgered over it and finally has the incentive to do something with strong truck sales. I would expect an “oh by the way” announcement at the 2015 Chicago auto show.

Toyota added this oil filter access panel to the TRD PRO series. This is a BIG deal. So big that when I asked the local Toyota rep about it, he had no clue. I had to point it out to him.

Toyota added this oil filter access panel to the TRD PRO series. This is a BIG deal. So big that when I asked the local Toyota rep about it, he had no clue. I had to point it out to him.

Also, really big news is the Tacoma is being redone. I was lead to believe Toyota is currently either working on the new plans or is in the planning phases. My guess is they are building a prototype and are further ahead than we think. The new GM twins and increased competition from the Nissan Frontier are finally giving Sweers the resources to do something. And plus, with the GM twins out, Toyota has a competitor to study.

There is also some talk about Toyota keeping both the TRD PRO 4Runner AND the Trail edition as package options. I am a bit surprised by this since Trail edition sales account for only 15-20 percent of all 4Runner sales. Seems like the TRD PRO would compete directly with the Trail edition. Those vehicles would then split the 20 percent of sales. Doesn’t seem like a good business plan to me.


Ford presents their case for why they used aluminum and how it makes sense. This gentleman said you will see the same aluminum in the Ford F-150 that you do in a Bradley tank. Interesting analogy. I wonder if we will see marketing that reinforces this idea.

I got a chance to sit in the new Ford F-150 and to examine some of the aluminum weld points. Say what you will about Ford, the new F-150 is really impressive. While the aluminum is getting the bulk of the attention, the interior upgrades are going to be class leading. If and this is still a BIG IF, Ford can sell the truck at the same MSRP, convince consumers aluminium is the way to go and handle the repair question, this truck is going to lead the industry.

Now, will the Ford have the condensation issue resolved? That is another question and I have yet to hear a Ford rep bring that up.


Sitting in the new GM twins and comparing it to the other models, one thing is clear. It is just OK. I really want to get excited about it, yet there just isn’t enough there.

They did unveil the new Chevy HD High Country package. It is a nice package, yet it isn’t that special when compared to other luxury trim lines from other manufactures. It just lacks real character like the 1794 and Laramie Longhorn with their custom leather stitching and prominent interior badging.

The interior of the new Chevy HD High Country package is just OK. Nothing really stands out for me.

The interior of the new Chevy HD High Country package is just OK. Nothing really stands out for me.

Personally, I would rank the higher trim levels as 1794, Laramie Longhorn, King Ranch and then Denali/High Country. Kudos to GM for introducing a new trim level, it is just too conservative for my tastes. Actually, the word “conservative” is how I would describe all of GM’s efforts. The truck’s new styling, their pricing strategy and product roll out have all been conservative.

When GM unveiled the HD High Country package, many people snickered about the size of the tail pipe. Here is a good visual on just HOW big it is.

When GM unveiled the HD High Country package, many people snickered about the size of the tail pipe. Here is a good visual on just HOW big it is.

Also, GM seems to be really excited about the mid-size market. A rep says he thinks it will EXPLODE in the near future. I’m not so sure it will explode. Yet, nobody knows what the diesel Colorado will do. With the Ram EcoDiesel success, maybe the diesel Colorado will surprise us.


Speaking about Ram, they have a lot to be excited about. For the first time in years, the Ram 1500 has great performance with reliability (so far). I spoke with a dealership owner who agreed with me that the introduction of the ZF transmission was THE turning point for Ram. He has sold cars for 30 plus years and is pretty excited about Ram’s changes.

The Laramie Longhorn Ram 1500 is nice, but the "wow" factor is the diesel. Here is my "wow" face!

The Laramie Longhorn Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is nice, but the “wow” factor is the diesel. Here is my “wow” face!

I expected Ram to be bragging about beating Chevy last month. Instead, they were really humble and low-key. More low-key than I have seen them in the past. My sense is they are really, really on a mission and realize the end goal isn’t to just beat Chevy. They want to top GM completely and then target Ford. These guys are pulling the right strings right now. We will see how things go.

Oh and by the way, during lunch the Ram guys were reading the comments on Pickuptrucks.com. They probably read this site’s comments from time to time. Go ahead and say Hi!


For the first time in a while, Nissan has some things to talk about. The Nissan Frontier Cummins diesel WILL get built. This truck along with the GM twins is going to really dent Tacoma sales. It will be interesting to see how Toyota responds.

Nissan is moving forward with building a Cummins diesel powered Frontier. No word on when, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear something at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Nissan is moving forward with building a Cummins diesel powered Frontier. No word on when, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear something at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Also, the new Nissan Titan WILL be unveiled at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. It is expected to have a diesel engine, more cab/bed offerings and a truly commercial option.


While I was at the show, Jason heard that a three-row Jeep SUV (essentially a Durango clone with Jeep styling) is on its’ way in 2015.

He says, “Jeep sales have been on a tear lately, and a “Wagoneer” or “Grand Wagoneer” would fit nicely into the Jeep lineage while also growing the brand. It’s all but certain to have the same VM Vitori diesel that the Ram 1500 offers, which should make it acceptable under the new CAFE rules.

What’s more, Ford is probably going to kill the Expedition that year (they’ve been thinking about killing the Expedition for a while now), so Jeep might slide right into their spot and pick up some sales.

The Sequoia is likely (but not certain) to go away about the same time, so Jeep could really kill it if the Exped and Sequoia go away when the Wagoneer debuts.”

Lastly, I have signed an agreement to be a regular contributor on Pickuptrucks.com. This will give me the opportunity to try out a larger variety of vehicles and increase my insight into the full-size truck market. No worries, I will absolutely continue to write for this site. Just another opportunity and wanted to give the readers a heads up.

I’m off to the Big Apple for the 2014 New York Auto Show next week. While it is normally a car show, I’ll see what I can learn and share.


Filed Under: TundraHeadquarters.com


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  1. breathing borla says:

    well done Tim,

    nice to see overall coverage here.

    PUTC, oh boy, as a forum member there for over 12 years (the forum is now gone), the blog comments are mostly a bunch of trolls.

    good luck with the new endeavor

    and how did you get Jason to let you write that the Ram has some reliability? WOW

    ps 16K and counting and not a single glitch on my loaded Sport 4×4.

    I agree with the comment on the ZF, it was hands down needed for me to buy this truck.

    Good to hear the tundra boys are working on the ride quality, it’s way behind the others. I will look at the tundra again for sure when I buy in another 2-3 years, but I have to say, unless this Ram breaks down a lot or something, it will be hard to go back to the harsh ride on the tundra, this Ram rides like a lexus, it’s that smooth and quiet. It can still carry 1200 lbs which is all I need, otherwise I would get a 3/4 ton.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Thanks BB. And yes the comments are something else. I was shocked when the Ram guy pulled out his phone and scrolled through them. Wow!

  2. hemi lol says:

    nice article Tim! seems as if the next couple years everyone will be bringing the heat so to speak….. I had a conversation with President Ohara last fall where i questioned him and a couple others about diesel Tundra’s and 3/4 1ton variants and while tight lipped i think they were listening to my counter arguments that it was needed……… which brings me to a point that “they” questioned ME about what i thought about diesel Tacomas!? although an older design when i mentioned the 3.0 litre used in the Hilux it seemed as if they considered it possible to be upfitted with current emissions and could be a possibility………… i hope we get it or something like it!

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Thanks! And I agree at times toyota doesn’t seem to have a clear direction on diesel. They do rely on customer feedback. Maybe a bit too much sometimes in my opinion, but they do.

  3. DJ says:

    Thanks for the update Tim. Good luck at pickuptrucks.com, their current writer Mark Williams has an EXTREME bias toward the big three that he hardly tries to hide. And don’t even get me started on the comments section.

    Interesting that there is only one TRD PRO. You can def tell it’s higher stance from your pic.

    Glad to hear Toyota will redo the frame. Bed bounce on concrete highways can make you dizzy around here.

    The new F-150 is just plain ugly. However the interior in pictures looks excellent, and makes the new Tundra interior almost look dated already. Lots of gambling from Ford between the Egoboost and aluminium. I think it will cut a little weight but be more of a pscyhologial marketing ploy for Ford, just like the Egoboost.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Thanks DJ! I think it will be good to have more people writing on PUTC. The truck market is so large it is easy to not report on something’s. I’m hoping to help provide more coverage.

      • LJC says:

        May be my emails to Cars.com were heard. I’ve complained a few times that the comments on the site were offensive and that the Toyota articles were negatively biased.

  4. Randy says:


    Great write up and coverage. I may have to visit pickuptrucks.com every now and then. Keep up the good work on keeping the facts straight for those of us that want to know the “truth” about trucks.


    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Thanks! Honestly, this is more about your guys support than me. Without you guys, I would have never gotten this far.


  5. […] So listen and enjoy!  To get an overview of the trucks at the show, visit Tim Esterdahl’s wrapup on TundraHeadquarters. […]

  6. Chris says:

    pickuptrucks.com is not mostly trolls. The forum was abandoned because it is an outdated platform.

    FYI, Breathing Borla is very biased, constanly slagging putc and is bitter because he tried to get people to follow him over to his site and they didn’t come.

    He is always trolling Ford fans calling the EcoBoost EcoBust in every post and passing along wrong information on the Fords. Who wants that? Not very professional I’m thinking. Good luck at pickuptrucks.com, Tim.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Thanks Chris. I’ll still be here. I’m going to be doing both.

    • breathing borla says:


      biased on what?

      the 6 toyota trucks I’ve owned, or the Ram I now own?

      or the f-150s I’ve had in my company? or the GMC I almost bought last time?

      I was joking about the ecobust thing since there was so many issues being reported on the condensation issues, relax.

      go to the PUTC site and read the blog, your telling me that’s not mostly trolls? I mean there is multi-user name miss-use, no moderating, guys who just post guts, glory, ram ten times in a row, etc.

      The forums were not outdated, since mike left and cars.com took over there was no moderation, and the trolls that liter the blog can’t get away with posting under 10 different names with no content, etc. I was an active member there since 2002, trust me, I know the story. It died because of the spam and neglect.

      and I don’t own any site, I mainly hang on the tundra boards that I have been on starting 14 years ago. I also help moderate a small truck forum with very low traffic that is all the guys who were on the PUTC forums. You are still welcome to make posts there just as I have offered to let Tim post his articles there, if not no sweat..

  7. Rick says:

    Tim, this was a great “heads-up” article! Thanks

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