Toyota Tundra 1/2-Ton HD Coming – Fact or Fiction

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

For years, Toyota Tundra owners have been clamoring for a true HD version of the truck. Recently, a rumor has been growing strength that an HD version is coming albeit not exactly the one HD fans are wanting. Is this the right move for Toyota?

Toyota Tundra 1/2-Ton HD Coming - Fact or Fiction

Yeah, it will tow your boat! How would you like to have more payload capacity? It could be coming.

The Toyota Tundra has long been regarded as a tough, durable and reliable 1/2-ton pickup. Rumor has it from sources in the truck industry that a new HD – still 1/2-ton – truck is in development. The belief is that Toyota sees a market for HD 1/2-ton truck. They maybe right with the new ginormous towing capacities of 3/4- and 1-ton pickups and subsequent high prices points. Consumers could be wanting something new. Yet, there are several challenges to such a pickup.

What It Would Look Like?

The first question is what would a 1/2-ton HD pickup consist of? What would the powertrain consist of? A diesel engine option? Maybe, but probably not. First, why would Toyota offer a HD pickup?

When it comes to towing, one of the big issues with the Tundra is payload capacity. Ask any RV owner towing with a Tundra and they will tell you. While, they may be close to the maximum towing capacity limit, the real issue is payload. Simply put, the truck can tow a lot, just not with a lot of weight in the bed/cab.

Imagine then if you were able to offer a customer a higher payload pickup with slightly increased towing capacity without the high ticket price of a 3/4- to 1-ton truck. This truck could be based on the current Tundra and just be another package offering. It would most likely keep up with the existing powertrain offerings and trim levels. Just imagine a 2014 Tundra with a more towing/payload capacity. This would significantly cut down on R&D development costs.

Consumer Focused

While, most Tundra fans would love to see Toyota’s market share improve in all segments, our guess is that this truck wouldn’t be setup for commercial/fleet buyers. Why? says that those buyers are 90% split between Ford and GM with the remaining 10% going to RAM trucks. This market is extremely competitive and we can’t imagine Toyota developing any truck to compete with that.

From a consumer focus, this rumor does make sense for Toyota in one big way. Every time you talk with their company reps, they say their goal is on being the 1/2-ton truck leader. Offering a niche 1/2-ton HD version would most likely help with that goal. And it could do away with that nagging issue Toyota has had for years: no HD version.

Sticker Price Consideration

If you say that this idea could work and there might be a market for it, does it make sense? Let’s look at current price points of the most popular “consumer” setup in trucks which is a Crew Cab with 4WD. According to, the 2012 Ford 250 XL SD with a 6.2L V-8 starts at $35,525, the 2012 Chevy’s 2500 LT 6.0L V-8 starts at $39,845 and the 2012 Ram 2500 5.7L V-8 starts at $39,965. Most of these trucks though will add at least a few more thousand based on trim levels and options that most consumers opt for. With the average truck transaction  price hovering around $39,000, let’s give these HD versions an average price of $45,000. This is seemingly the middle ground between the loaded $60k+ versions and the basic fleet versions.

The MSRP for a 2013 Toyota Tundra 5.7L V-8 CrewMax starts at $34,930 and we would guess an HD version would run in the $45k+ range. Does it make sense then for Toyota to offer an HD version? Maybe, maybe not. One thing is for sure, it would give them a competitive option for some customers needing more payload capacity without needing to tow more than 10,000 lbs. Plus, it could quickly get them into the HD market.

Toyota Tundra 1/2-Ton HD Coming - Fact or Fiction

A tweak here, a tweak there and Toyota might be able to produce a consumer 1/2-ton HD pickup that matches the capacities of the 3/4-ton trucks on the market.

Is It Possible?

We have all seen how the Tundra towed the 282,000 lb space shuttle (maybe this is how Toyota got the idea). If you believe the truck is strong enough to tow that, it is easy to consider building a production version. The truth is that Toyota likely learned a LOT about their truck from testing it to truly see what it is capable of. It would make sense then that they could offer a HD version with upgrades to certain key components to allow it to tow heavier loads. Our thoughts for upgrades revolve around a reinforced frame, improved shocks, reinforced bed, different gearing ratios and enhanced braking capabilities. There is probably some thought into how to improve the engine or reprogram the ECM to improve towing or maybe not. Frankly, most RVers will tell you that the truck can easily tow more than what Toyota says it can on a regular basis. Again, it is really about a limit on payload.

Now, we still have a lot of questions like: Is the frame strong enough? Can the engine handle more of a load? What exactly will be reinforced/changed to handle the increased payload?

The reality though is that Toyota would be building a truck to answer a key consumer demand – an HD truck with increased towing and payload capacity. Could we see this response leading the way to other things like an E-locker? Who knows. It is exciting to think about the Tundra heading more in this direction and becoming more competitive in key segments of the truck market.

Your turn. What do you think Toyota would need to reinforce/change to make it happen? Is there a market for a 1/2-ton HD version?

Related Posts:

Filed Under: Tundra News


RSSComments (35)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. tonyspin says:

    I don’t think the question is if. I think the question is when. Sooner or later Toyota will offer a HD truck.

  2. ALVARO says:

    I think Toyota need to do it. HD trucks sold all over the world, not only in USA, and Toyota could build it with the help of its family company Hino who has a lof of Diesel experience.

  3. Larry says:

    A 1/2 ton HD? That doesn’t make much sense. It has to move up to 8000 GVW to be a real 3/4 ton truck or it’s stuck in the consumer class by the Feds. It’s not really possible to build a HD 1/2 ton if you are constrained by all the Feds requirements.

    If it’s required to meet the coming MPG numbers the weight must go down which means sacrifices must be made with respect to real HD use. It is totally unfair to compare any 1/2 ton truck to the big solid front axel 4WD trucks built by the big 3. They are not the same type of truck.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Like I wrote, it is a rumor at this point. It is interesting to think about though.


  4. AD says:

    For the reason said above it won’t happen. More reasons would be:
    1. Look at the R&D spent on the engineering side of the so called 3rd Gen Tundra. A truck that needed more configurations, more power and fuel efficient engines, 8-speed tranny,front axle disconnect (GM and Ram only loose 1 mpg hwy on 4×4), taller axle ratios, drastic weight reduction and a e-locker option to be really competitive with the big 3. We unfortunately got none of those things.
    2. Look at the Tacoma it has been unchanged since forever and a day and still has the old 4.0L (why)?
    Spending the R&D money to add a payload package to something like the 3rd Gen Tundra without the other updates would be pointless as it would not bring in more customers than doing the stuff above.

    I have all the faith in the world Toyota could engineer one but it would appear the bean counters at Toyota would say no chance in H$LL.

    Interesting enough my opinion is one that will be hated but truth is if Toyota isn’t going to spend the money to be competitive in the 1/2 ton ranks should they fold as it will only be more expensive going forward with the big 3 pushing the bar and EPA regulations (too rich for my blood). They can keep the Tacoma as you can obviously get away with not updating a mid size truck apparently. Although I would be in favor of it becoming more Hilux like. I would also say move the Tundra up in class to 3/4 ton as you can get away with not updating an HD as often see Ford Super Duty. Turn Hino loose and they will come back with a winner. Hilux to Hino engineered Tundra HD.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Interesting points and well said. It is interesting how you describe Toyota at a bit of a crossroads with changes to the Tundra. Many of the other manufacture reps (RAM and GM specifically) shared the same assessment. The question really is how much $$ does Toyota want to invest in a market that they may never reach more than 20% market share. It is an interesting proposition, one that RAM is finding tough sledding.


      • LJC says:

        I wouldn’t believe a word the GM and RAM reps say. They’re obviously going to take a pot shot at the Tundra.

        • Tim Esterdahl says:


          You would be surprised actually. Whereas Toyota reps are guarded about new developments, other reps don’t care if they leak information. In fact, some of the best information journalists get is from rival reps sharing other manufacture “secrets.”

          Now, I don’t relate everything they say and I tend to cherry pick the best stuff. I just thought this rumor had some merit and was interesting. Is it feasible, I don’t know. But, it is interesting to consider.


    • Larry says:

      More Hilux like is an interesting idea. I think for me that would be something to look at.

      I don’t know how Toyota would move to the 3/4 ton type truck other then to just do it and pay the costs of low sales for a few years. Who knows if they could make it profitable. It wouldn’t be easy considering the hold the big 3 have on heavy trucks.

      AS for an HD 1/2 ton the Tundra already seems well built for a 1/2 ton.

  5. Goldie says:

    If you compare the components of the current Tundra, one can already say the the Tundra is HD 1/2 ton. Huge ring gear, heavy/stiff springs, large brakes and tie rods, etc. Just needs some LT tires from the factory. I think Toyota under-rates the Tundra.

  6. LJC says:

    Here’s a quick tale of two former Tundra owners.
    To start, I spoke with both of them about their former Tundra. And how did I meet them? They were selling accessories they bought for their Tundra. I bought an under seat storage bin, Tekonsha P3, Weather tec floor mats and a rubber bed mat.

    The first had a new GM 3/4 ton ext cab 4×4, eLocker and snow plow. This guy maintains a camp ground in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I asked point blank why did you sell your Tundra? “Because the State Troopers were giving me looks when I towed my tractor on the highway.” He said he Tundra would handle he weight. I don’t know what it’s like in other states, but in Maine I’ve seen tractor trailers pulled over more than once and recently, a lady carrying a bike on the roof of her car, no bike carrier just strapped down with a blanket between the roof and bike. Also, I suspect the payload of the Tundra was not enough either (1300lbs for a double cab). He told me his Tundra did not have one problem during his two years of ownership.

    The second former owner had a new F250 Super Duty 4×4 crew cab, 6 1/2 foot bed, snow plow and…yes…ARB lockers in the front and rear. This guy services heavy auto shop equipment for New England and regularly tows a lot of weight. He chose a Tundra because his wife’s vehicle was a Toyota and they were very pleased with the reliability of her vehicle. He said the Tundra “chirps” the tires when towing 14000/15000 lbs. Also, the bed mat I bought off of him was marred and showed rough use. This guy drives 50,000 plus miles a year.

    So, in both cases former owners moved up to a 3/4 ton truck. Also, I bet each of them moved back to the manufacturer they had prior to the Tundra.

    From what I’ve seen first hand, if Toyota decides to play the HD card, there just may be a market.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Your stories are EXACTLY why I thought the rumor had merit. Both of those guys probably don’t NEED all of the towing/payload capacity of the 3/4 ton and could get by with the Tundra. Now, if the Tundra were able to upgraded somewhere to be a bit stronger with more payload, I can see a lot of RV owners and business owners opting for it.


      • LJC says:

        Quick Post:
        I agree. There are two important aspects to this.

        First, what is the threshold on towing and payload?
        Second, what to call an even more beefed up Tundra? Calling it an HD will immediately result in it being compared to 3/4 ton trucks. Perhaps something like “MaxTow”, which would be sort of a niche name and with it, Toyota could even protect it.

        Oh yeah, it’ll need a selectable eLocker too! 🙂
        I’m not one to toss in the towel 🙂

        • Tim Esterdahl says:


          You know I included the sentence, “Could we see this response leading the way to other things like an E-locker?” Just for you! 🙂

          I’m not sure about threshold on towing and payload or even how that is accomplished without moving up in weight class like has been suggested.

          Secretly, I am hoping to buy a Toyota engineer a few drinks and see what I can uncover!


          • LJC says:

            Yeah, I caught that in the article, very many thanks 🙂

            A common, well expected may be more like it, task for an HD truck is snow plowing and most of them have one.

          • Tim Esterdahl says:


            Agreed. I can see the need for an eLocker in regards to towing. Maybe a new 1/2-ton HD truck will come with one. I still think it should be, at the very least, and option. For what’s it worth, I did ask the local PR rep and he is “circulating” the question. I’ll let you know what I find out.


          • AD says:

            Sometimes the smartest guy in the room is the guy who knows when to hold’em and fold em. When your balance sheet on something isn’t the same as Ford or GM and you are involved in an industry that became a fierce competition and tighter upcoming industry regulations that you are going to have to revamp for you might want to let your economics decide your next move. I will choose to play more than one hand in life. Now with all that said the big 3 all have some sort of HD and or payload packages so it won’t be like your the only one with one. The difference is the big have all the things I said above already in addition to that package so Toyota adding one will only keep some loyal customer who would have walked because they needed more than what Toyota could offer on the current pickup. This will not gain customers as the things the 2014 Tundra needs above will gain customers.

            I just find interesting how the HD market is given that market is about capability and the 1/2 ton is moving towards FE so that SAE tow rating thing will never matter.
            The HD market will have less Govt. regulation.
            The HD market allows for longer generations.
            The engineering principles Toyota uses are perfect for the HD segment and maybe not for the future 1/2 ton market. The overbuilt 1/2 ton is pretty heavy now. Tundra was the 2nd heaviest 1/2 ton and the heaviest is trying to do weight reduction for its next gen pickup for FE reasons.

          • Tim Esterdahl says:


            Great points and as always with your comments, I find little to debate on. I do think Toyota might try a HD in a half-ton. I do agree that it seems the whole segment is going toward FE, but offering different trim lines/packages on one model/frame, is a cheaper investment than developing a whole new model. As for bean counters, this seems like the cheaper way to go. Will it be a top-seller? Probably not, but it would make for an interesting option/choice.

            The truth for me is that in the 1/2-ton market consumers are clamoring for more choices (diesel, FE models, Hybrid, etc…), I think it is smart for any automaker to offer as many “reasonable” choices as they can.


  7. LJC says:

    Very many thanks for your effort Tim! 🙂

  8. DieselClyde says:

    I tow a 8000 lb travel traler and would wish for a standard 32 or 34 gallon fuel tank to reduce having to watch my gage for 150 miles or so for refueling . Out West fueling points are farther apart and it gets a little risky to try and stretch your mileage. Truck is heavy enough as it stands for my purposes and in 3 years of towing zero problems with it as my tow vehicle.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I have done quite a bit of research in the fuel tank capacity area. Frankly, the Tundra has a similar gas tank capacity in the 1/2-ton truck as nearly all the competitors. has the specs as:

      • Ford F-150: 26 gallon
      • Ram 1500: 26 gallon
      • Toyota Tundra: 26 gallon
      • GMC Sierra: 26 gallon

      Now since the truck wasn’t really built as an HD for towing RV’s, I don’t see Toyota being interested at all in putting a larger fuel tank on like the much bigger ones in HD models (36 gallon+). HOWEVER, that could be something if they come out with a 1/2-ton HD truck like the rumor we reported on a few days ago:


      • breathing borla says:

        just want to make sure you know this info you keep posting is not correct. The others (ford and Ram for sure) have optional tanks. for 50-75 bucks you can get a 32 gallon on any RAM. I know ford has some options as well.

        • Tim Esterdahl says:

          No worries, I stand corrected. 🙂 like I said, it makes a LOT of sense to offer a larger tank option. It will be interesting to see if Toyota does the same.


  9. toyrulz says:

    I saw a youtube video of a Toyata salesman comparing Tundra to Ram 1500 and says the Tundra is actually a 3/4ton with some 1ton engineering. I don’t know the truth of this but from experience Toyota trucks back to the 80’s I believe it. Toyota ussually over engineers/builds their trucks to handle more or last much longer if not.

    Wouldn’t an HD Tundra really only need additon to the rear springs (and maybe continue the reinforced-C from under cab to the rear bumper), a bigger or dual/auxiliary fuel tank, and maybe LT tires (rather than Ps)?

    I know simply adding springs will make ride harsh – but I’m sure Toyota can come up with a clever solution and it is an HD so…

    Big tanks mean hauling extra weight so hurts mileage – they do not have to be filled.

    They can also throw some existing stuff into an HD package – TRD big brakes, stabilizer, exhaust, etc… To help handle added capacity – the engineering is done on these TRD parts.

    • Mike says:

      This is exactly what I want, well stated. I don’t think Toyota is going to break into the sales of 3/4 trucks if the price point is so high. I think Toyota really needs to find an inexpensive way to increase its payload to the current axle ratings. From what I remember, my axles are rated 8000 or 8100 lbs, but the Tundra’s GVWR is 7100 lbs.

      Their can only be a few “weak points” that lower the GVWR. Perhaps the wheel bearings need to be upgraded. Perhaps they shoul go to a 6 lug wheel. Perhaps an overload spring. If Toyota could upgrade these items and offer a HD style package for $1000 to $1500 upgrade, they could offer over 2000 lbs payload starting at around $28,000.

  10. Anonymous says:

    […] Toyota is currently in development to produce a model precisely like you describe. Check it out: Toyota Tundra 1/2-Ton HD Coming – More Payload, Towing Capacity | Tundra Headquarters Blog Chances are that they won't comment on it, but I think my source is good for the information. And […]

  11. Anonymous says:

    […] The debate is related to the 1/2-ton HD coming soon post I wrote based on a rumor I heard. Toyota Tundra 1/2-Ton HD Coming – More Payload, Towing Capacity | Tundra Headquarters Blog -Tim __________________ -Tim Esterdahl Associate Editor @ […]

  12. mk says:

    can’t speak of ford and dodge, but I know my tundra DC squats a lot less loaded up than any of my former crewcab chevy silverado’s meaning I know the rear suspension of the tundra is already heavier duty to tow more payload and towing than the 1/2 ton silverado’s plus the tundra has much better brakes and engine braking and a lot more powerful engine and tranny.

    That said, they do NOT need a 3/4 ton truck badged as a 1/2 ton Heavy Duty, don’t see the point at all. I owned a 2003 GMC 1500HD with stiffer suspension and the 6.0L engine and got rid of the darn thing 5 months later. I couldn’t afford the gas at only 13.5 avg mpg, really slow off the line used for low gear stump pulling, revved way too high at hwy speed miles, and rode like a sack of bricks way too firm of a suspension if NOT pulling anything rattled my teeth literally totally sucked. Big mistake I made always wanted one since I really wanted a 1/2 ton crew cab with 6 1/2′ bed but the ride and gas mileage sure sucked bit time.

    All Toyota would have to do is stiffen up the rear leaf springs is all and add another one and offer trailering brakes and transmission/oil cooler as std. eqmt. and basically do nothing different to the engine and tranny since is plenty powerful enough. Would be an easy mod for toyota to do it if for minimal cost upgrade but don’t think it will sell well just like GM’s 1500HD’s did not sell well either.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I don’t think the GMC 1500HD sold very well because GM offered the heavier grade 2500 and 3500 models. For Toyota, which doesn’t have anything, it is an interesting idea. I also think it would meet a demand of current Toyota owners that tow a lot in that it could have increased payload capacity.


  13. Joe says:

    I hope this is not a rumor. I need a HD because I want to put a truck camper (dry weight 1800 lbs) on it. The payload of the Tundra is only 1600 lb. I waited two years for the 2014 Tundra announcement and was disappointed that there was no HD. I am a Toyota fan all my life (bought new the following: 77 Corolla, 84 Van, 94 Truck, 97 Camry, 06 Sienna and still have the compact truck, Camry and Sienna) but now start looking at GMC Sierra 2500 and the Ford F250. Did the rumor say when this Tundra will come out? I cannot not wait any longer.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Sure, my guess is 2015 or later. Sorry, I don’t have any more information than what I wrote.


  14. Patrick says:

    I live in northern New Hampshire. Winters here are tough. Plowing snow here is what people do. I have had to deal with the American 3 for my 3/4-ton plow trucks. Sure, they can move the snow, but they also break. They’re unreliable and expensive to fix. And the funny thing is that the fixes needed are rarely associated with plowing snow.
    I would buy a Tundra HD in a minute if I could rely on the added strength and a plow upfit option.

  15. Jamie says:

    I’m a very satisfied Tundra owner who would like a little more payload from time to time. If they build it, I will buy it.

  16. Jamie says:

    Not a new concept. So-called “heavy half’s” have been offered in past. Usually just beefed up suspensions and no other options, for fleet use.

  17. […] Warrior package (discontinued in 2013, but rumored to be in planning phases), a heavy duty model (maybe a 1/2-ton HD or heavy half ton) and other powertrain options like a much talked about  diesel. Those HD and […]

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×