Does the Toyota Tundra Need More Technology?

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In the past week or two, we have seen a surge in new technology apps and features from other leading truck makers. This is leading us to question: does the Toyota Tundra need more technology features to compete better?

Does the Toyota Tundra Need More Technology?

The new Pro Trailer Backup Assist from Ford handles the operation with the push of a button.

In case you missed the news, there were two new technology upgrades in the past few weeks that stand out to us.

First, Ford revealed a pretty interesting trailer backup assist for 2016 models. By the press of a button, the truck will backup a trailer for you. We are a bit mixed on this feature. While, on the one hand, it is pretty dang handy especially for those who don’t backup a trailer that often. On the other hand, those who trailer a lot love to showcase their back up skills and it is kind of like a badge of honor to those folks.

This new feature joins other technology features found in the new 2015 Ford F-150 like Park Assist and a new 360-degree camera. We have tried these features and while old-school truck guys will denounce them, they are pretty great for the occasional or newer truck buyer.

Second, Ram has updated their owner’s suite to provide more vehicle specific information for owners. Now, this may seem like small potatoes to Toyota Tundra owners, but this update is pretty cool since it works on previous models (2011-2015), can be customized and will work with your smartphone or tablet. The feature we like the most is it provides VIN specific information like maintenance schedules, service history and recall information.

Lastly, it will use push notifications to make you aware of special offers, tips, how-to tricks and videos. Plus, there is a parking reminder feature which lets you pin your location and meter time. This is pretty darn handy in various circumstance like going to a concert or leaving for an airplane trip and parking in one of those large lots.

It is worth noting, Chevy/GMC has also evolved their technology with their 4G LTE Wi-Fi in the cabin and their handy OnStar service. We have tried both recently and they are really good.

While a segment of the buying public could care less about technology and apps (since it is a truck for crying out loud), the research is showing otherwise. For example, Ram told us they are finding the majority of their new truck buyers are in their mid 30s-40s, are affluent with technology and have a considerable amount of spending money. They also read reviews online and do a lot of social networking with friends to buy their next truck. Frankly, these customers represent the future of truck buyers. If Toyota plans to continue growing sales, they need to target these new buyers with non-traditional truck features like technology apps. Not doing so could put a crimp in long-term truck sales.

What do you think? Have we gone tech crazy these days or is Toyota falling behind in this area?

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. DJ says:

    The Tundra absolutely needs more technology. For goodness sake the competitors trucks will back a trailer for you and yet Toyota still does not have an integrated trailer brake controller!!!!

    I’ll stop there

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Good point on the integrated brake controller. I had forgotten all about that.


  2. Tonyspin says:

    I can back up my own trailer thank you and bring back the manual tranny and roll up windows.

  3. Rick says:


    The Tundra definitely needs more tech. I had an Audi A4 back in ’98 that had convenient turn-key, roll down/up windows with sunroof that was great on a hot day. I live in the south.

    How much does one-touch, auto roll up and auto roll down windows cost? The Nav should be as good as the Ram’s with a large 8 or 9″ TFT screen and 1080p. I can’t see mine clearly. Add more outlets in the cab and one or two in the bed for carpenters. Bump up the alternator amps.

    Like any feature that if it’s made optional, Toyota could, like the Germans do, make us buy unwanted packages that have one option we want or need. The Germans and the British aren’t too shy about adding 10k or more in options to the MSRP on a de-contented car or truck. I could use the panoramic camera feature on my crewmax while parking in a tight spot, but not bundled up with unneeded cross lane alerts or radar cruise with the expensive LED headlights. Have you seen the $3k+ packages sold these days? Gimme a break.

    If they offer these NOT bundled, i’d be interested. Toyota can do it as they have Lexus which features this stuff and the switches/wiring could be interchangeable.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I’m all for individual options being added at the factory through a direct customer order. That is a big selling feature for Ford and others. Sadly, that is not how Toyota’s business model works. It is hard to argue their success in business, but, in the full-size truck market, there is some merit to this idea.


  4. Rick says:

    – Also – You were right about the 30-40 year old demographic. You have to sell trucks and that demo has changed (younger) so Toyota has to remain competitive. The younger crowd looks for these nit-picky options & complains if it’s not offered. They’re obsessive and LOYAL. Toyota should read them! They should understand that blogs offer FREE advertising for their products IF they plan smartly.

    I saw a window sticker on a Chevy Silverado 1500 recently that was almost $60k and had NO 6.2L! It was the 5.3L. (LOL). Toyota gives us a lot for the money – just wanted to add that. My truck was $45k (2wd) and I got $7500 off that. I’m STILL happy!


    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I’ve had long conversations with various manufacture PR reps on the matter of blogs versus traditional media. Blogs represent an exciting new venue for manufactures to get their word out, yet they also have their downsides. The biggest downside of course is how you quantify the blog’s importance? Is it always about traffic or is it about quality content? The PR reps have a tough job figuring this out and I would certainly not want to have their jobs. I mean, it used to be easy with newspaper circulation and Neilsen viewer ratings.

      Now, the mix of blogs, traditional media and social networking has changed the game.

      Plus, the changing buyer demands for non-truck features is further complicating things. It will be interesting to watch it all play out.


      • Rick says:


        I’ve been on those blogs you mentioned and it is almost impossible to gauge who is really truthful vs. ‘ninjas’ who want to aimlessly rant for the sake of sounding ‘knowledgeable.’ I don’t envy that PR guy’s job. There are mountains of stuff to pour through.

        On the other hand, Toyota could find answers to problems in the blogs dedicated to Toyota enthusiasts who post to find help for mechanical/electrical etc. issues. They post emotional stuff that can steer savvy observers to content and quality solutions. I’ve found help with my own mechanical ventures and confirmed my notion that Toyota is out to help me by just building a better truck than the other guys.

        • Tim Esterdahl says:

          Forums are tricky for a lot of automakers. I’ve seen several try their hand at making them work. Ultimately, what I think automakers find is the time/effort doesn’t return substantial ROI.

          It seems like a hard thing for most customers to wrap their hands around is the finite amount of resources manufactures have. Sure, on paper, they rake in millions/billions, they also spend about the same on R&D. Almost all automakers see way more value in developing new products versus doing extensive outreach on existing products.

          For example, Ram, Ford, Chevy and GMC have a PR person or two who cover only their truck side of the business. From automotive media to outdoor and lifestyle media, these guys have hundreds if not thousands of contacts. They don’t have the time resources to spend on forums.

          When you wrap your head around how these BIG companies have SMALLER departments with specific tasks and LIMITED budgets, it gives you a different appreciation for how everything comes together.


  5. breathing borla says:

    Yes, it needs more

    start with interior storage, LED lights inside and out, heated steering wheel, push button start and keyless enter and go type system. I also like my rain sensing wipers, automatic highbeams are awesome on county highways and rural roads.

    Also a remote start that doesn’t suck and make you turn off the truck.

    A real LSD or locker, sorry swears, I don’t buy the ALSD is better argument, I have owned both. I don’t have to sit and figure out a sequence of 3 button pushes, or crap on the dash, just mash it and go with a LSD.

    that would be a nice incremental start for toyota and they have this stuff on other models.

    I am watching toyota, only 1-1.5 years until I’m in the market again.

  6. Bob Easterday says:

    My wish list includes Apple CarPlay, WIFI hotspot, Keyless ignition, Head Up Display and a mirrored light light display on the front so I can flash “You are a Moron” at Prius’ hogging the fast lane.

  7. Randy says:

    Devil’s Advocate:

    If Toyota turns the Tundra into a Silverado or a Ram or even half of shat Ford brings to the table then I will “not” be interested.

    Now if Toyota can deliver more technology that “actually works” with “proven” reliability then I will be interested.

    I see no reason to give up QDR for poorly executed and unreliable technology.

    • breathing borla says:

      problem is Randy,

      everything in my Ram works perfectly, there is nothing un-reliable about some of these changes we outlined.

      toyota has most of this in other models, just not the tundra

      sorry, but that’s not an excuse anymore for toyota.

  8. ricqik says:

    I’m a simple guy with simple needs.
    My only luxury requirement is:
    Power Windows
    Power Locks
    Cruise Control
    Power Seat

    I don’t like being dummified with technology that one should be able to do themselves.

    • breathing borla says:

      just to present the other side…….

      That’s fine, understood, you are a lower trim buyer and those are the things you need and you can always get them on the lower trim models without all the other stuff.

      problem is, there is an additional demographic that like top trim trucks at 50-60K and at those levels, all of this stuff needs to be in there.

      When toyota launched the “new” tundra is 2014, the platinum 50K tundra didn’t even have remote start….

      Stuff like that is un-acceptable in the very top trim trucks. Another example, a 40K+ limited tundra doesn’t even have a power passenger seat…

      let me guess, a power passenger seat in a 40K+ truck would jeopardize toyota’s QDR, right?

      • Tim Esterdahl says:


        LOL @ QDR and power passenger seat.

        I would wager it is more about hitting a specific price point and being competitive than anything else. When figuring out what goes in each trim level, automakers have all sorts of charts showing other manufactures trim levels and features with prices. Toyota, like everyone, prices their products competitively against these other trims. Unfortunately, the bean counters often nix certain features to hit a price point and profit percentage.


        • breathing borla says:

          ya, I get that..

          and they missed my 50K check last time because of it.

          let the bean counters count that….

          we’ll see what happens this time around.

          maybe I’ll bring you with me to test and price them out, LOL…

          • Tim Esterdahl says:


            LOL. That would be a ton of fun! I would just have to find someone willing to pay for it!!


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