Toyotas Answer to Big Threes Pickups

By: Anthony Fontanelle

It is a known fact that the U.S.' Big Three specializes on large automobiles such as SUVs and pickups. In fact, this penchant for producing larger vehicles has caused General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler to suffer financial problems. As gas prices increases, the majority of car buyers avoided gas-guzzling SUVs and pickups.

Asian brands such as Honda and Toyota known for producing smaller and more fuel efficient cars benefited from this trend. Although Toyota has been experiencing success in the United States auto market with their lineup of small cars, the Japanese car manufacturer decided to take on the U.S.' Big Three on their own turf. As Toyota's popularity in the U.S. increases so does their zeal to beta the three biggest American car companies. That is why the new Toyota Tundra will be the measuring stick whether Toyota can beat the Big Three at their own segment - the rowdy and tough pickup truck market.

For the 2007 model year, Toyota introduced the new generation of the Toyota Tundra which was designed to be bigger than its predecessor. Its sheer size rivals that of the F-150 and the Chevy Silverado. Although Toyota has big plans for the Tundra, experts in the auto industry pointed out that the full-size pickup needs more improvements so as to make it a strong threat to the already established pickup models created by the Big Three.

For this year, Toyota aims to sell 200,000 units of the Tundra. That sales target, if achieved will be the most pickup sold by a foreign car manufacturer in the United States auto market.

One of the areas that the Tundra needs to improve is variation. Currently, for the 2007 model year, the redesigned Tundra already has 31 variations. These variations are made possible by three choices of engine, three choices of cab styles, and three choices of trim levels. While the Tundra may appear to have many variations, it cannot compete with the Big Three in terms of that. General Motors, for example, offers choices of suspension while the Tundra only comes with one suspension setting. While the Tundra may lack choices in suspension configuration, its heavy-duty suspension system which uses nitrogen gas shock absorbers provides a good ride comfort.

The most powerful engine offered with the Tundra is the massive 5.7-liter i-Force V8 engine capable of producing as much as 381 horsepower. The said engine is expected to be used on other Toyota vehicles especially for its luxury division Lexus. Aside from the 381 horsepower, the Tundra's engine produces 401 lb-ft of torque. This gives the Tundra a good power for a speedy acceleration. Transferring that amount of power to the drive wheels is the task of the six-speed gear box engineered to reduce the amount of power wasted as it travels from the engine to the drive wheels. With that amount of power coursing through the vehicle, it would need highly efficient brake parts such as . All in all, the Tundra is a good start for Toyota in their bid for supremacy in the pickup segment.

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