All-New 2018 Toyota Tundra Will Debut At 2017 Chicago Show – What You Need to Know

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Anonymous sources recently told me an all-new 2018 Toyota Tundra will debut on February 9, 2017 at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show. While there are no confirmed details on this new truck, here are my best guesses on what it will be like.

All-New 2018 Toyota Tundra Will Debut At 2017 Chicago Show - What You Need to Know

The 2014 Toyota Tundra was unveiled at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show. Now, 4 years later, another Tundra is coming. What will it improve on?

Design Updates

While the truck will feature a host of changes, lets start with exterior modifications. I don’t believe Calty designers are planning on making any major changes to the truck, I do think they will make subtle changes.

For example, I would anticipate new designs for the headlights, front bumper and grille to further make the truck look “tougher.” This toughness is a common theme among most truckmakers and I expect Toyota to continue to push the envelope.

Also, I would anticipate changes to the mirror design for improvements in styling and airflow. It might be more curved and/or could be shaped slightly different as a result.

Next, the inside will feature improvements to storage capability and materials. Like most automakers, Toyota will find ways to improve the material usage thanks to new vendor contracts and common material cost changes. Also, I think Calty designers will find a way to improve the storage options in the rear of the cabin. With the rear seat now folding up, instead of reclining, there opportunities there to incorporate hooks to hang items on as well as creating storage cubbies under the seat.

2018 Toyota Tundra Powertrain Improvements

Likely the big changes people will focus on are going to be the powertrain. Toyota engineers, like Chief Engineer Mike Sweers, have taken a lot of flack for basically having zero improvements with the 2014 model came out. I anticipate the team is going to address some of these concerns.

First, the 2018 model will feature the 8-speed transmission found in the Toyota Land Cruiser. Since both “trucks” are about the same size and are utilized for similar duties, this will be an easy thing for engineers to add to the Tundra.

Most truck fans maybe thinking this will help the Tundra in terms of fuel economy (an item the truck does poorly on). However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Toyota engineers could choose two routes in fact.

  1. Improve the towing
  2. Improve the fuel economy

Yes, an 8-speed transmission does not automatically equate to better fuel economy. For example, when the Land Cruiser came out, the fuel economy stayed the same with engineers opting to improve the towing.

Frankly, I think that was a mistake and I hope Toyota engineers focus more on fuel economy. The facts are anywhere from a little over half to less than half of half-ton customers tow. Focusing on just those people isn’t serving the entire customer base well.

Besides the transmission, Toyota will likely utilize their D-4s technology (both direct and port fuel injection – an important market advantage). This technology improves HP and torque while keeping the cylinders cleaner from carbon buildup.

And I can see a variation of the Atkinson system in the Tundra to improve fuel economy. This system accomplishes this leaving the intake valve open longer, thereby creating a shorter compression stroke. This shorter stroke uses less energy (fuel) to keep the engine running.

I do not see Toyota scrapping the engine or really going to town with a host of new improvements. Toyota values reliability over an MPG or two and they will continue to use what works.

Technology/Safety Improvements

With any new truck, there are going to be a host of things that may not headline a press release. For example, the truck is sure to feature a host of technology improvements like a new IP setup (to address sun issues like in the Tacoma), new apps for the infotainment system and, hopefully, a new radio head unit or change in the unit to produce more power. Also, if the head unit power can be addressed, additional USB ports.

Beyond tech, there will be a host of safety features now standard on the 2018 model. These features are part of the Toyota Safety Sense P package and include:

  • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection Function: Under certain conditions, when the system determines that the possibility of a frontal collision is high, it prompts the driver to take evasive action and brake, by using audio and visual alerts. The system may provide additional braking force with Brake Assist, or otherwise automatically apply the brakes. The in-vehicle camera may detect a potential pedestrian depending on size, profile, and motion of the pedestrian.
  • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist Function: When lane markings are detected, if the system determines that the vehicle is starting to unintentionally deviate from its lane, it alerts the driver with an audio and visual prompt. In addition, the Steering Assist function provides small corrective inputs to the steering wheel to help the driver keep the vehicle in its lane.
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control: On highways, the system is designed to adjust vehicle speed to help maintain a pre-set distance to a preceding vehicle. If the vehicle ahead is detected traveling at a speed slower than a driver’s pre-set speed, the system automatically decelerates in order maintain an appropriate distance. When there is no longer a preceding vehicle, the system accelerates until the pre-set speed is reached.
  • Automatic High Beams: At night and above certain speeds, the system is designed to detect the headlights of oncoming vehicles and tail lights of preceding vehicles, and then automatically switch between high and low beams as appropriate to provide more light and enhance forward visibility.

This is a sure bet since Toyota announced some time ago it was going to offer these as standard starting in 2018 on most vehicle grades. The all-new 2018 Toyota Tundra will have all of these.

Finally, there are sure to be slight changes to packaging of items on various trim levels. For example, features, tires and wheels options will likely be moved around.

While, there are likely to be some surprise items, I don’t anticipate a radical change to the Tundra. Instead, it will be a refreshed update to keep it more current with its competitors.

Filed Under: Tundra News


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  1. Chris says:

    A stereo power upgrade is needed. Also, don’t forget push button start and keyless (touch) entry.

  2. breathing borla says:


    What are we on, triple or nothing on the six pack from the last few years?

    Sooner or later you have to win, I guess we find out in feb

    Maybe I’ll catch you in Chicago this year

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I thought you were going to be the FIRST comment on this article. LOL.

      I feel pretty good on this one. Like really good. 🙂


      • breathing borla says:

        Maybe the recent meeting with sweers eh?

        He’s anonymous now eh?

        I’m out of the market for a while as I just got a 2016 platinum in may and have been modding it to my liking

        But in a few years we’ll see what yota is doing

        • Tim Esterdahl says:

          Actually it wasn’t Sweers. It was two people who work with Toyota. You spend enough time with people and they tell you things. Funny how that works. LOL


          • breathing borla says:

            Those two guys can pay your 6 pack debt if nothing is shown in feb in chi-town

            Let’s see what happens

  3. T says:

    Finally…I hope.

    My Tundra will be 10yrs old by then…took them long enough. I might hold off on getting a commuter vehicle and see if it is worth the wait. In terms of the question in the article…”what will it improve on?” Hopefully everything.

  4. Randy says:

    It will be interesting to see if the new engine will be a 5.0 or 5.7?

    One can only assume the new infotainment will be killer?

    My Navigation has not worked in 18 months, and so far my dealer has not figured out how to make it work?

    Say yes to load flat floor and storage?

    Say yes to upgraded and more durable interior materials?

  5. DJ says:

    I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read this headline!

    About time Toyota, about time.

    The only thing I find odd is there have been no spy shots or testing that anyone knows of, has Toyota really been able to keep this that quiet?

    I have high hopes though, I was about set on getting a GMC, now I wait and see what Swears and company have been doing for the past four years.

  6. mendonsy says:

    It’s about time!! My ’07 is getting old and tired.
    I had basically decided that if nothing was released at Chicago I was going to get a new Chevy next summer.

  7. Larry Goldfinger says:

    How about a Tundra HD (Heavy Duty). Tundra gets no respect in the towing world. Toyota needs to cut into the 3/4 ton market.

  8. GoBig says:

    Yet another teaser to get me excited. I would really like to see an improvement in gas mileage.

    Then there are little things that would be nice. I picked up a 2016 Honda CRV for my wife. It has a blind spot camera on the right side of the car. Very clever safety addition.

    I am one who really likes the more squared off appearance of the 2014 and up. I hope that continues.

  9. Don says:

    Well my 08 is getting old but really not tired considering what I tow. An 8 speed set up correctly can only enhance towing, which I am sure they will do. That still leaves questions on frame, wheel bearing size etc. Of course these are my questions since I run my 08 over spec in all areas (which I dont recommend)..but after years of doing this the Tundra is so good at things I just wonder if the 2018 is going to have the same grit ot just be another half ton. If Toyota is looking to lighten this truck then there is a problem for towing heavy. Light trucks mean light frames reguardless of this high strength steel BS. After looking at the F150 frame I wouldnt put a 5th wheel hitch on that frame for any reason. Some people say I should not be doing that any way but the Tundra frame width, stable platform and rack & pinion steering & 4.30 gears make it an great 5th wheel platform..just address your suspension. Rock & roll lets use these 5.7 motors.

  10. Michael Gardiner says:

    I spent most of last year waiting to hear of the changes would be made to the 2017 Tundra. I owned a 07 trouble free foe 120k miles. I now have almost 90k trouble free miles on my 2012. The 07 did much better both on fuel and towing. The 14 redesign cut close to 25 features of the 07 and 12. This being said, I don’t believe that Toyota cares about making any improvements. They sell all they make, offer little if anything in incentives because they don’t have to, and don’t. Let you order what you might like because this is what they have, take it or leave it. Bullet proof reliability can only last so long before customers start looking elsewhere.

  11. NoQDRTundra says:

    That’s bold statement to say the Tundra will be all new. The ’07 release was all new with a new engine, transmission, frame and vehicle dimensions. Will the ’18 have the same number of changes to qualify as all new? I highly doubt it, unless my Hilux theory works out or Toyota steps up to the plate and offers or takes steps towards an 8800 GVW Tundra. Both are long shots and with the former bordering on “WOW”.

    Anyway, I suspect there will be a new engine, perhaps a twin turbo 4.6 V8 with sophisticated engine management to sip fuel under the right conditions along with the 8 speed auto. The TT v8 would take a step past Ford’s 3.5 ecoBoost which is getting a lot of attention and does really well towing. Why a TT v8? Perhaps when Toyota discontinued the SC program they were making room for a TT…

  12. ricqik says:

    So likely to be released as a ’18 model tundra eh… I’ll hang on to my ’00 and see what happens when that time rolls around.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Yep 2018 model.


      • ricqik says:

        The tow ratings to me are fine where they are. 10-11k is plenty for a halfton. I think a improvement in fuel economy into the same ball park of the competition would be nice. Even better… 1-2 above the current competition is expected. Maybe a heavy half or 3/4 too… like a diesel. I remember way back when it was rumored that toyota would have a 700lbtq diesel and everyone thought cried that was too much for a conventional pickup truck… and here now are 1ton pickup trucks with pushing 1000lbtq. Wishful thinking.

  13. Don says:

    I dont believe Mr. Sweers is getting flack, it is just typical social media. The Tundra ownership base has increased so who better to say what needs to be improved. The Tundra is a big truck, if you want big miles per gallon then you should move on to something else. I prefer strong American V8 with increased towing and frame strength. I said it before and someone above said it as well, the Tundra today is different than the 07 and 08 which are better tow vehicles. I also think Tundra customers are very very tired of no information (detailed information ) about changes in the structure of the truck, or better yet what exactly are you talking about on the 2018. The Tundra IS NOT A NICHE vehicle. It should be able to have work boxes put on, or whatever work needs to be done and have increaed towing. Either way 2018 is to late in the game to play catch up. Here is a tip..if you want changes make them happen in the next 6 months, that may pay off for Toyota. Just my 2 cents.

    • ricqik says:

      Sure it’s a big hunkin truck. It needs to drink lots of fuel to get lots of power. But when all the big hunkin trucks are tow rated at 10-12k or gets 20mpg+ and your the only one still playing in the mid teens mpg’s, something is wrong. There’s no excuse why toyota can’t match those numbers with their…as Sweers says it… “more sophisticated and advanced” 5.7 motor.

  14. samendolaro says:

    Finally… the nightmarish wait is over.

    I would like to see them put the recliners back in the rear and give them the ability to fold up as well.

    I’d also like to see them put in a couple AC outlets. I have an inverter but its just a nuance and loud . Just enough to run a couple laptops or charge some batteries.

  15. xman says:

    6.5′ or 8′ box with crewmax, please.

  16. Casey says:

    If Toyota don’t keep up with the other truck makers I am history. I am on my sixth tundra and I am tired of no mpg improvement. Most of the other new models have LED headlamps , push button start, remote start, reclining and folding rear seats. Is Toyota trying to phase themselves out of the truck market? What happened to the designers of the tundra ? Did they die off or retired? I am now looking at the other truck makers. I use to buy nothing but Toyota back when they made rear wheel drive autos. I hate front wheel drive. Come on Toyota chit or get off the pot.

  17. Jesse East says:

    I hope it does not have an air injection pump.

  18. Scott says:

    Not sure how much (if any) of this is really going to happen for the 2018 MY since i’ve read several reports from workers saying not to expect anything more then safety enhancements before the 2019 model. In any case we have less then 2 months to go to find out one way or another..

  19. scott says:

    Well I guess Tim got this one wrong. The list of 2018 Toyotas Debuting at the Chicago show are out and the Tundra isn’t one of them.

  20. Eric says:

    You think Toyota would get serious and compete with different bed lengths and other options. Plus quit making us get a stinking sunroof with the nicer trim packages.

  21. mark says:

    I just want them to come out with a crew max with a 6.5 bed. I would go down and trade my 2015 tundra in for a new one if they come out with that option.

  22. Greg says:

    All I know is every new Tundra I’ve owned, I took all the trim off, wet sanded with 1500 grit, and applied three coats of Sherwin Williams Ultra Clear.

    My trucks look “wet” for 8+ years.

  23. Greg says:

    All I know is every new Tundra I’ve owned, I took all the trim off, wet sanded with 1500 grit, and applied three coats of Sherwin Williams Ultra Clear.

    My trucks look “wet” for 8+ years.

    All I can say is the paint sucks, but nobody beats Toyota quality.

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