2014 Toyota Tundra Overall Impressions – First Take

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After a week of posts about exterior, interior, driving, etc., here is my view of the truck overall and Toyota’s sales expectations. Again, this information comes from Toyota’s press preview event, talking with reps and my limited time driving the truck.

2014 Toyota Tundra Overall Impressions - First Take

The 2014 truck is really just a first step to more things to come.

A First Step

One of the first things that is apparent when discussing the 2014 model is that Toyota views this as a first step. All their speeches and literature talk about two things: the growing 1/2 ton market and the need to expand production. The truth is that Akio Toyoda’s decision to give more regional authority to make changes is going to have a LARGE impact on the truck.

I am going to make a big assumption that Tacoma production WILL shift to Mexico and the Tundra WILL come with more options. This is the large impact. I say that because all the reps I talk to mention this as a key piece. Considering how tight-lipped historically Toyota is, for them to casually announce a production change this like, it really is interesting.

Speaking with a high ranking Toyota exec, it is clear Toyota is rethinking its strategy. In the past, Toyota built a vehicle with very few different variations. In the compact car segment, this works well. In the truck segment, not so much. The exec conceded that Toyota’s business plan doesn’t really line up well with full-size trucks. Plus, having basically 1/2 a factory producing trucks isn’t enough capacity to offer a larger variety of options.

IF Toyota plans to make a big impact on the full-size truck market, it is clear they NEED more options on their trucks. The much discussed, 6 1/2 foot bed for CrewMax is a must. A true off-road edition is another must. An HD version, again a must. And more variety in power train is a must too.

The reality is about every car news outlet is producing stories with Toyota execs saying increased capacity is a key target. Keep an eye on this news as it will be key to getting more features on the Tundra. Every time you see someone say, “come on Toyota offer this option,” they are working on making that possible.

The MPG Debate

Go to any full-size truck forum and you will see a post called “Real-world fuel economy” or “MPG is killing me.” I don’t care if it is a Ram, GM, Ford, Nissan or Toyota forum, they all have it. Toyota says that there fuel economy in the 5.7 V8 is comparable with the industry and “if it isn’t broke, why fix it.” Past customers don’t always share that sentiment. Consider these statements from Paul Holdridge, Vice President, Sales, Toyota Division:

Careful analysis showed that tundra’s 5.7L V8 continues to be very competitive in the heart of the market.V8s of over 6.0L make up less than 3% of the retail half- ton market – with about 78% of FSPUs powered by core v8s under 6.0L. Among this core, Tundra’s 5.7 is very competitive from a power and torque standpoint as well as real world mpg. So why mess with a good thing?And when it comes to the industry trend towards smaller V6 engines, there is more to the story.Despite all the hype, Ram’s new V6 is only about five percent of their mix.Customers seem to be realizing this too. Despite all the ecoboost hype, more than half of F-150 customers select a V8. And the numbers just don’t add up. Third-party testing reveals that … whether you’ve got a small engine working hard or a large engine hardly working, real world mpg is around 15.So why not have a V8? The reality is, all the promises of improved fuel economy with these smaller powertrains do not live up to expectations — or provide the towing capabilities that full-sized pickup owners want.

The third-party testing? Consumer Reports that reports the average fuel economy in full-size trucks is 15 mpg. Check out this review about the new Ram pickup and it’s class average fuel economy.

Now, Holdridge did admit that full-size truck buyers are looking for a variety of power train options and diesel is one of them. My sense is that they have a diesel truck in their testing fleet, they know the MSRP numbers, return on investment for consumers and have a guess on market demand. However, unless the Ram 1500 diesel shocks everyone, I wouldn’t expect Toyota to offer it in a 1/2-ton truck.

Sales Goals

The final piece in understanding that this truck is just a first step, is in Toyota sales forecasts. Frankly, they don’t expect this truck to take the world by storm. Holdridge says:

We expect to sell about 107,000 this year with a combination of 2013 and ’14 models.

Next year, with full production, sales will increase about 30 percent to 137,000.

Wow, you say 30 percent. Not a big deal, here’s why. The market for full-size trucks has been growing like crazy. In 2009 when the recession set in 1.1 million full-size trucks were sold. In 2012, the segment exceeded 1.6 million. Estimates are that it will exceed 2 million by 2015.

Looking at this exceptional grow with the knowledge that the Tundra is already trending upwards of 13 percent. Also, once new trucks hit the market, people who have been waiting will snap them up. This will cause a big spike (see: July 2103 Chevy Silverado 45% increase).

Let’s put this together and consider with a new truck on the market, a 400,000 increase in full-size truck sales, current sales already up, it isn’t too hard to fathom Toyota coming close to that number.

The truth is that if Toyota sells just enough to keep up its current market share, they will be happy. Toyota is always eager to point out that when you combine Tacoma and Tundra sales, they own about 18 percent of the market. This is about the same percentage of the market share for passenger cars.

In the end, there are definitely things I like about the new truck (dash, ride, seat cooling) and things I really dislike (loss of cabin items like slide and recline, grab handle, temp/clock gauge). However, if you have never owned or driven a 2013, those are not really buying factors probably.

Whether you like the exterior or not, the Tundra will increase its current sales. Is it enough to create “waves” in the segment? No way. According to Toyota, the truck options and configurations that will upset the market “are coming.” This is just a first step.

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Filed Under: Tundra News


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  1. LJC says:

    I agree with Paul’s comments. In addition to them, the 2014 Tundra engine line up has more real-world driving and experience than any other competitor engine for the same model year.

    Also, another trait the Tundra has is it’s capability has been proven by third parties and or third party standards.
    As pointed out in the article, Consumer reports for mileage.
    Another not mentioned is the J2807 standard. This cannot be said for GM, Ford or RAM.

    What does this say about Toyota and the others?

    One more item: off topic, but may be an interesting article.
    Toyota has a truck heritage. I know nothing about it. I would like to know. Any chance research could be done on it and shared with the rest of us?

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I can run a post on it, I have all the information from Toyota. I guess, I wasn’t thinking it was that interesting. I’ll put it together though and run it.

      Also, I saw a cool infographic that showed the J2807 standard. I’ll work on finding that and putting it up.


  2. mendonsy says:

    Toyota continues to say they are listening to their customers. My question is who are they listening to??
    With the exception of a dashboard that can actually be seen in the daytime, all the rest of the “improvements” seem to come from thin air. The stuff that owners have been complaining about is not resolved and the trucks continue to lose standard features every year.

  3. mk says:

    I can deal with the exterior looks, but key components as mentioned are missing on the interior where it matters more to ME.

    As far as you stating that the tundra sales will increase, I wouldn’t be too certain about that. I expect it to maintain volume but not increase hardly, if, at all. To get the Big 3 owners to switch brands is like pulling teeth and Toyota will have to do more than they are currently doing to sway them to switch such as offering 3/4 ton, a diesel, or a crewcab with 6 1/2′ bed like I want.

    By the way, did you ask if the new 2014 double cab interior rear seat legroom has also been decreased vs. 2013 DC tundras since you say the crewmax looses rear seat legroom 2014 vs. 2013.

    Gonna wait until chevy also gets their act together since a local chevy sales guy went to a unveiling of the ext. cab new chevy not out yet and said interior volume mostly rear seat legroom is improved over prior model years plus finally has 4 doors like the dc tundra has.

  4. LJC says:

    There’s more leg room for the crew cab, but not rear seat height. I’m 5 9 and with the head rest fully extended, the top of the head rest hits the base of my skull. Tilting my head back, with little effort, then pushes the head rest back down, resulting in my head hitting the rear window. In summary, more leg room but GM still has the petite seating the previous generation has.

    Also, the pricing for the new generation is insane! A basic crew cab with a V6, no locker or tow package is…$36,100!

    Finally, there is an integrated brake controller, but that is a $230 option.

    Like I’ve pointed out in a number of previous posts: the Tundra has the most bang for the buck, period.

  5. mk says:

    I hear yah on the pricing of the new GM silverado’s for 2014. 43K msrp for a crewcab 6 1/2′ bed is a tad WAY too high with NO rebates. There will have to be 6K in rebates plus the other 3 grand off to dealer invoice to get me to buy one I believe. Until then, they will sit on chevy dealer lots.

  6. Mickey says:

    They would sit on dealers lots anyway. You trust what they say they can tow? None of them I trust. None of them use the J2807 standards.

  7. […] either. They have just released a brand new truck with new engines. Lastly, Toyota has launched a new Tundra that could steal some sales and Nissan is planning a brand new, diesel powered model that could […]

  8. […] either. They have just released a brand new truck with new engines. Lastly, Toyota has launched a new Tundra that could steal some sales and Nissan is planning a brand new, diesel powered model that could […]

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