The redesigned Toyota Tundra full-size pick-up truck has been unveiled at today’s Chicago auto show, with the car’s chief engineer admitting that a right-hand drive model is doable.
The Toyota Tundra, which is essentially a North American-focused vehicle, has been around since 1999. All variants are built in the US for left-hand-drive markets only. Right-hand-drive markets such as Australia have been unable or unwilling to go after the Tundra but it appears that if a viable business case was presented, the engineering wouldn’t be an issue.
Mike Sweers, the chief engineer for the Toyota Tundra and Tacoma vehicle programs, told the Australian automotive media at today’s Chicago auto show that it would be possible to build the Tundra in right-hand drive.
“Well of course it’s possible to change it to right-hand drive, we do that for some of our export vehicles now,” Sweers said.
“Right-hand drive, left-hand drive is not that difficult to switch. The biggest difficulty is re-engineering the instrument panel.”
He noted that he hadn’t heard of much demand for a ute as big as the Tundra from the Australian market.
“At this time we don’t have any plans to introduce a full-sized pick-up in Australia. I haven’t seen any market data that says it’s something the Australian public demands. We have the HiLux in Australia, it’s popular and does well, if there’s a demand we could always look to introduce it [Tundra] but at this time HiLux fits our needs in the Australian market.”
The new Toyota Tundra launches with a bolder front and rear design, and a significantly improved interior.
In its home market the Tundra is available in five grades, ranging from workhorse to urban for the growing trend of city dwellers that want the towing power and practicality of a full-size pick-up, but are unconcerned about its size.
We were particularly impressed with the interior of the Platinum grades, which included perforated black leather-trimmed seats with double-stitched diamond plate leather, door and instrument panel inserts as well as chrome seat and console accent badging. All of which made the Tundra look like anything but a big truck on the inside.
It’s also not lacking in technology, outstripping the range-topping HiLux available in Australia with features such as a 12-speaker JBL audio system, eight-way power seats, heated and ventilated front seats, LED daytime running lights and blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert.
Toyota USA offers the Tundra with a choice of three engines, all petrols. The range includes a 4.0-litre V6 coupled to a five-speed automatic, and a 4.6-litre V8 and 5.7-litre V8 coupled to a six-speed automatic.
Would the Toyota Tundra work in the Australian market?