2014 Toyota Tundra Ride Quality Improvement – Toyota Engineer’s Perspective

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The 2014 Toyota Tundra is being touted as having a much improved ride over previous models. How much better? Here is a Toyota engineer’s perspective.

2014 Toyota Tundra Ride Quality Improvement - Toyota Engineer's Perspective

Want to know about the 2014 Tundra ride quality from the engineers who worked on it? Here it is.

Recently, we were able to find a source that works at Toyota’s proving grounds in Arizona. This gentleman worked on the 2014 model and is working on future generations as we speak. Naturally, we had some questions for him on the ride quality, frame and other improvements. Here is what he had to say.

Q: One of the “big” questions I have is this: what made a larger impact on ride quality, Vortex Generators or “tweaking” suspension? Also, why does Toyota need Vortex Generators to improve ride quality when others don’t?

The VG doesn’t seem to be played up that much because it would be hard to convince folks even less involved with their vehicles (typical consumers/ skeptical conquest customers) that something like that makes a difference in the vehicle’s behavior… That’s just my guess btw…

Yes those changes Mike definitely pushed for and are logical and useful. The steering system definitely needed more damping in it since the loads on the steering system are larger in a truck (ie. off road, towing) so naturally adding damping into the steering gear helps the trucks’ performance in both areas (less wheel kickback in harsh offroad or potholed patched road)… and since perception is reality to most, although we lost some feedback feeling in the wheel, more muted impacts give the perception of much higher quality feel. We did a lot of testing to make sure the weighting of the steering matched the yaw rate and lateral acceleration so although feel was reduced the truck still goes in the direction you intended it to. On to actually answering your question about towing, so ride comfort has always been the big hitter for us, between choppy ride and secondary vibration. We were tasked with improving the ride and giving up as little handling as possible and retaining towing confidence at 10k+… we did consider and try and reduce some pitching motion that previous tundra had when towing.

The shock tuning has a greater effect on ride… the valving structure in both std and ORP trucks is very different… Previously std tundra was tuned by TMC and ORP was done here… We went through both packages and revamped in a big way!…

You can look at the VG for ride as if it was a finishing touch, the cheese on the burger if you will…
Having the tripletec frame has plus’ and minus’ great for loading and capacity, but ride leaves some to be desired. Staying with this frame we wanted to use all the pieces in the play book to really improve the truck.

Q: I am curious where you stand on the frame. As you know, there are lovers and definitely haters. With all the tweaking Toyota is doing for ride quality, seems like it might be a better idea to just scrap it and start over. From what I hear from other journalists, the Ram has a great ride.

The big thing about the frame is what you are using the truck for and your expectations… I use my truck for everything including towing and off-road about every weekend… Since the frame is designed to flex to allow greater cargo weight and I understand and use that feature I don’t really have a problem… Yes I would like the ride to be better cause I know it can be but it doesn’t bother me horribly, I mean c’mon its a truck that can tow north of 10k lbs!

Ahhhh the RAM… so yes it is the best riding 1/2ton truck we have studied and collected ride data on it and it all boils down to money, capability and durability. RAM rides so well cause the rear suspension is completely different, still a solid axle but it uses 2 forward control arms on each side, coil springs and a lateral locating link to keep the axle centered in the frame… This is basically the same suspension as is found in large full-size SUV’s(Toyota land cruiser, current 4runner, etc).

A suspension like this, big money!!!!! BUT, less tow capacity and reduced durability in the life span of a full-size truck… Now dodge can call out whatever tow capacity it wants on that kind of rear suspension because they don’t comply with J2807, so I’m sure the tow rating will creep up each model year with no significant changes to back it up. Still a great riding and decent handling truck.

Q: What do you have to say on the rumor about Toyota working on synchronizing the frame. I’ve been told that the Tundra and Tacoma (and perhaps even Hilux) could share the same basic frame at some point in the future, mostly because that would reduce costs, allow for more investment in weight reduction, and allow for more use of materials like aluminum and CRFP (composite reinforced plastics). But with an HD truck in the cards, it could be that Toyota is building the mother of all truck frames…a unit that would be “scaleable” from compact to HD. THAT would be an interesting bit of technology, and absolutely in Toyota’s wheelhouse.

So currently the frames are very similar boxed up front and open up as you move to the rear… So at this time they are pretty similar, of course we would like to do something that reduces cost and makes frames modular as well… I do know that it is cheaper for us to spend time with the shock suppliers and to fiddle with the suspension than a new frame. Tooling costs and re-crash certification are the big ones there… I’m not at liberty to discuss what I do know about the frame(which is limited) but change is coming for both trucks. I will be working again on next gen Taco in Jan and we are putting the finishing touches on the 15 Tundra changes.

Q: Do you have any ideas on direct injection, 8-speed transmissions and hybrid technology? Is this within your scope of work?


Yeah out of my scope of work but I have sat in our Cummins powered tundra with ZF8 spd trans! It was a test mule we had Cummins fit up for us… I hope we don’t go hybrid I don’t think that tech and pickup trucks goes together, it will encourage Americans to work the throttle even less responsibly and get the same fuel economy! Haha. I know we will continue to work the Aero aspect a lot for highway economy, hell we have a new sierra and its air dam is soooo low even for the Z71 package, probably half the approach angle of the Tundra. GM is definitely working Aero to get fuel economy. I don’t really know what’s in store for our truck fuel economy improvements but they are coming, I hope Sweers sticks to his guns for decently powered v8’s!

Special thanks to our source who requested anonymity with respect to his job (or rather his desire to keep it).

What do you think? What question didn’t I ask that you want to know? 

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Filed Under: Tundra News


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  1. LJC says:

    Ask’em about the Tundra/Raptor fighter, like will the current axle and differentials be used for it.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I’ve asked in the past. I do think they are reworking it completely and it is still in development.


      • LJC says:

        That’s interesting, with a 10 1/2 inch ring and hob cut teeth, I wouldn’t think it couldn’t get better than that. Unless of course they’re working on replacing the open diff.

    • Mason says:

      There was the Tundra Rock Warrior. Even though it was more of a Power Wagon fighter, my buddy used his at Glamis doing pre-runner type stuff sometimes. He loves it to death. To bad Toyota discontinued it for 2014.

  2. DJ says:

    Interesting stuff. Good to hear there are more changes already coming for the 15′ Tundra. Working on a new Tacoma, which is WAY overdue. Also interesting they had a Cummins Tundra mocked up. Bring on the updates Toyota!

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      The thing with the Cummins is that Cummins has been trying to sell that engine to everyone. I’m sure Ford and GM also have it in their test fleet. It will be really interesting to see which one they go with.


  3. Rick says:

    The look of this new Tundra is growing on me in a positive way. The changes coming are certainly welcomed and necessary.

    The source reveals and I concur, that diesel is a good alternative option to add to the lineup, whether it be a Cummins or an in house design such as Ford has done.

    My 2012 rides very well and is comfortable as a daily driver. I get more compliments on my truck from random people who stop me to tell me it looks great and inquire as to its make and model. When they realize it’s a Toyota, they usually reply, “Oh, Toyota, it’s reliable!” And I tell them enthusiastically, “yes it is!”

    Can’t wait to see what the 2015 has in store!

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      It is my sense as well that Toyota needs to offer a diesel as a way to enhance the lineup. And I am also really interested in what 2015 has in store. Let I wrote in my 2014 Overview, this truck is really just a beginning not an end.


  4. mk says:

    Yah, thinking best to wait for 2015 to see something new and more important to me useful and worth paying for, besides just body and interior changes. Not saying I hate the new design inside and out, just am not impressed is all on what toyota calls a game changer and a whole new designed truck inside and out. Cosmetic changes mean little to me vs. better fuel economy, improved ride, better quality, and for me, the MOST useful feature of any truck a 6 1/2′ bed in the Crewmax. I want that!

  5. GoBig says:

    This interview has me taking pause, and thinking I may be ahead to wait one more model year. I bought a 4runner in 1990, which was the first generation of the unibody design.

    I always said, I would never buy a first year model again. The manufacture always figures out what wasn’t right and tweaks it in the next year or so.

    It sounds like Toyota has plans. I wish they would have incorporated them in to the 2014. They had seven years to work on it.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      My only comment is that I don’t think they really had as much time as you think. They changed leadership, culture and direction during that time. I think they only had a short amount of time really.


      • GoBig says:

        Yea, I know. I was just taking a jab at their 7-year run with the same style. At the risk of stealing another brand’s slogan….quality never goes out of style.

  6. gordich says:

    Cool article. Love my 2010 Tundra DC 4X4 and do not look to replace it for a long while…The number of Tundras in this small Alaskan town is growing quickly. I saw the first ’14 today. A red DC 4X4 TRD, and it looked awsome! It had a good size crowd around it with the proud owner showing it off.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Nice! Showing off the new truck, one of our favorite activities.


    • GoBig says:

      Can I ask what town? I spend most my time in Anchorage, and haven’t seen one yet. Kendall shows 38 in stock on their web site, but a trip by the lot revealed nothing but rows of 2013s. I would love to see one. Particularly in Barcelona red.

  7. mk says:

    agree, first year productions always has more hiccups and the 2007 was one of them. So many issues with rusted chrome and inferior painted sheet metal and even I noticed and called toyota corp. and they did fix the issue I saw that ALL 10 or so 2007 tundras on dealer’s lot had the lower dash part actually touching the door panel when closed could not even fit a piece of paper between dash and door panels when door closed. That got fixed but how many 100’s of new 2007 owners had to take it in to the service dept. like I had to in order to get the door panel re-positioned so the door did not rattle all the time mainly in colder climates? Crap like that so ticks me off that the engineers couldn’t have figured this out before built??????

    • GoBig says:

      Funny how things slip through. My 1990 4runner had the spindles and bushings on the front axes made out of two different kinds of metal.

      No big deal until you drive it at -10 or -20 below zero. The metals contracted at different rates, and the result was a very gnarly grinding noise in the front when turning.

      Toyota did an under the radar recall and fixed them for free. The recall was only good until 1995, and luckily a friend told me about it with a month to spare and I got mine fixed gratis. They probably figured that it impacted very few owners, so they didn’t really make it well known.

      I know manufactures do cold weather testing on vehicles because Alaska is a common location for it. The 4runner axle design slipped through the cracks.

      • GoBig says:

        One slight correction. It wasn’t a “recall.” Toyota merely extended the warranty on the front axle to 5 years. There wasn’t a notice sent out.

        You had to show up complaining about the noise, or have someone tip you off as was the case with me. :0

  8. Mason says:

    He makes a great point. Both the Ram and new Chevy Silverado have a ridiculous air dam on the front overhang that really hampers your ground clearance and approach angles.

    The new Ram 8-speed Hemi was tested in the latest consumer reports. In real world testing it achieved 15 mpg. That’s the same as the 2012 Tundra, and the Tundra doesn’t have an 8-speed, cylinder deactivation, and a front air dam to improve aerodynamics. The Tundra has quicker acceleration to boot (6.7 vs 7.1 seconds to 60). CR’s hasn’t tested the ’14 Tundra yet.

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