DETROIT – Back in 2007, Toyota trumpeted its bulked-up Tundra as a game-changer that would cut into Detroit’s dominance of the U.S. pickup truck market.
“The truck that’s changing it all,” was the tagline from an ad that featured the beefy Tundra pulling a 10,000-pound trailer up a steep ramp.
But after six years on the market, the Tundra hasn’t changed much of anything. Instead, Toyota learned that unlike car buyers, American pickup owners are still fiercely loyal to their Fords, Rams and Chevrolets. And that Detroit feverishly guards its lead in the high-margin truck business.
Toyota rolled out the 2014 Tundra on Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show, minus lofty sales goals or talk of breaking into Detroit’s cash box.
The new version goes on sale in September. The price and gas mileage haven’t been announced.
Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst for Kelly Blue Book, says Tundra won’t lure new buyers unless it costs less or offers compelling features to make it different.
Longtime Detroit buyers agree. Jon Carey, who co-owns a drywall business near Ann Arbor, Mich., hauls tools and building materials with two Ram pickups purchased in 2006, and he sees no reason to switch.
The 2014 Tundra has a tougher squared-off look with a bold grille and more aerodynamic exterior, a more comfortable interior and a long list of practical and luxury features, such as a blind spot monitor and a standard backup camera.
But it lacks the type of changes Gutierrez hinted at. For instance, the choice of engines remains the same. General Motors, meanwhile, is offering more powerful and efficient motors with its new Chevy and GMC full-size pickups, which go on sale in the spring.