Toyota Tundra History and Evolution

It’s hard to think that Toyota has already been manufacturing the Tundra for more than 20 years.

The Toyota full-size pickup may not be able to compete with the sales statistics of Ford, GM, and Ram, but the dependable and fun vehicle has captured the hearts of a tiny group of Americans for over two decades and has proved its position in the corner of the North American truck market.

It’s true that the Big Three sell a lot more pickup trucks, but here’s something to think about: the Tundra is, properly speaking, just in its second generation.

We take a look back at the history of the Toyota Tundra while also honoring some noteworthy occasions just before the launch of the all-new, next-generation Tundra.

The Toyota Tundra: An Overview and Introduction

In May of 1999, Toyota presented the world with its very first Tundra, which was then a model 2,000. Older generations of Toyota pickup trucks, the Tacoma and the T100, were precursors to the first generation of the Toyota Tundra.

V6 Engine

All three models had a number of similarities. For instance, each of the three Toyota pickups used a V6 engine of 3.4 liters.

The V6 engine was the most popular option for earlier generations of pickup trucks like the Tacoma and the T100, but the Tundra is the only vehicle in the Toyota lineup to use it. Despite this, it was solely used as the foundational engine for the Tundra.

Later on, a 4.7-liter V8 engine would be installed in the Tundra, which would result in an increase in the vehicle’s overall power. Up to this time, Toyota pickup trucks had never previously been equipped with V8 engines.


Despite the fact that the Tundra was starting to make waves in the automotive market, it did have a few early stumbling blocks along the road.

The most significant impediment consisted of a dispute about what should be called the new trucking company. The name “Tundra” was not used for the initial generation of vehicles. In reality, we referred to them as T150s.

The designation would not have been problematic if it did not sound too close to the Ford F-150, which was the most successful product on the market then when it was introduced. As a direct consequence of this, Ford initiated legal action.

Toyota was in such a tight spot that they had no choice but to change the name of their new manufacturing option. Because of this, the term “Tundra” came into being.

Not a True Competition

Even though it was a little bit bigger than previous models of Toyota pickup trucks, the Tundra was not considered a “true” competitor to the other American pickup trucks on the market at the time. The other competitors thought it looked too much like an automobile.

To put it another way, it was not of a magnitude that would pose a significant risk to the existing truck market in North America.

Despite this, the Tundra was nevertheless able to beat its predecessor, the T100, by a factor of two in terms of sales.

It is probable that this was because of its output capacity of 120,000. In point of fact, the original introduction of the Tundra was met with the largest number of vehicle sales in the whole history of the Japanese manufacturer.

At this time, Consumer Reports had already deemed it to be the best full-size truck available on the market. The Tundra was also honored with the Truck of the Year award from Motor Trends in the year 2000.

Toyota T100: The Tundra’s Beginning

The T100 was unveiled in 1992, with development and production handled by Toyota’s commercial-vehicle division, Hino.

Built in Tokyo and subjected to a 25% import duty in the United States, the T100 was an unusual bird that cost more than a V-8-powered Ford F-150. A cheaper, smaller, and less powerful truck is the successful equivalent of Hamburger Helper.

The import tax wasn’t the T100’s only flaw; Chevy, Dodge, and Ford also had V-8s, making it difficult to compete.

A V-6 with just 150 horsepower would have no chance against it, and it did not. It got a bigger V-6 in 1995 with 190 more horsepower and 40 more pound-feet of torque, but it wasn’t enough to make a dent in the sales of the Big Three.

Toyota T150

At the car show held in Chicago in 1998, Toyota unveiled the T150, which was the company’s solution to the problems that the T100 had caused.

The T150 concept was Toyota’s debut in the full-size truck market with a V-8 engine. It was larger, more attractive, and had improved performance. The only obstacle is an alphabetic name that is somewhat recognizable.

Ford was unhappy with the situation. It is possible that a comparison test between the Toyota T-150, the Ford F-150, the Lexus LS400, and the Lincoln LS6 will not be published in your preferred automotive journal since Toyota promised to modify the name if Lincoln agreed to eliminate the numbers for the LS6 and LS8 luxury cars.

Toyota Tundra First Generation

At the time, Toyota’s facility in Princeton, Indiana was brand new, and it was there that the very first Tundra was put together. Although it was bigger than the T100, it used the same 3.4-liter V-6 as the T100’s basic engine from the years 2000 to 2004.

In 2005-2006, this was changed out by a V-6 engine that was 4.0 liters in capacity. A 4.7-liter V-8 engine, which was also utilized in the Land Cruiser and the Lexus LX 470, was also available.

This engine produced 245 horsepower from the years 2000 to 2004, increased to 282 horsepower in 2005, and then decreased to 271 horsepower in 2006. This Tundra, being of the first generation, was available with a manual gearbox.

In addition to the supercharger for the 3.4-liter engine, there was also one for the V-8. The Stepside bed became available for the model year 2003, while the Double Cab became available the following year in 2004.

Each year, about 100,000 Tundras were sold (which was a significant increase from the T100), with 2005 setting the record high with 126,000 sales.

Toyota Tundra Second Generation

The all-new, more capacious Toyota Tundra was on the market for the model year 2007, and it quickly won the Truck of the Year title from MotorTrend as well as the Truck of the Year award from Truckin Magazine.

The first facility was located in Princeton, Indiana, and it was responsible for the assembly, but later on, a second plant was established in San Antonio, Texas. In 2008, all of the manufacturing was transferred to the factory in San Antonio.

New to the roster of engines is the 5.7-liter V-8 with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. It was available with a TRD supercharger package that could be bolted on, which brought the total output up to 504 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque.

For the 2010 model year, the 4.7-liter V-8 engine was discontinued in favor of the 4.6-liter V-8 engine. During this time period, the 4.0-liter V-6 continued to be the only V-6 option available, and its horsepower was increased.

There was no manual gearbox available for the Tundra since all of the transmissions were automated. Both the four-door crew-cab CrewMax body design and the Platinum trim level were brand new for the second generation, which debuted for the 2013 model year.

The 2014 Model

Even though it is not technically a brand-new model, the 2014 Toyota Tundra had a substantial redesign that brought about changes to the interior as well as the grille, fenders, tailgate, and taillights.

The only piece of sheet metal to survive was the cab and the doors. The 4.0-liter V-6, 4.6-liter V-8, and 5.7-liter V-8 are the same engine choices that have always been available. The opulent 1794 Edition trim, which has a Western-themed design, was introduced in 2014 in order to compete with Ford’s King Ranch and Ram’s Laramie.

Because the 4.0-liter V-6 was taken off the market for the model year 2015 and the 4.6-liter V-6 was taken off the market for the model year 2020, the only available engine is the 5.7-liter V-8 that is paired with a six-speed automated transmission.

Toyota Tundra Third Generation

The third generation of the Toyota Tundra debuted in 2022 with a number of modifications that are considered to be very revolutionary.

The dependable 5.7-liter V-8 engine has been removed. Old Reliable’s successor, a 389-horsepower twin-turbo V-8 with 479 pound-feet of torque, represents an increase in both power and torque when compared to its predecessor.

In addition, a hybrid drivetrain has been included, which is capable of producing 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. Both of these engines come with an updated suspension and a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The original pickup truck had leaf springs in the back, but they have been upgraded to a coil-spring multilink that should provide a ride that is far more under control.

In addition to it, an air-spring suspension that may be purchased as an option and dampers that are regulated electronically have been included.

The new Toyota Tundra has a maximum trailer weight capacity of 12,000 pounds, which is lower than that of the Chevrolet Silverado, the Ram 1500, or the Ford F-150, but more than that of the Nissan Titan.

The cabin also gets a newly available infotainment system with a 14.0-inch screen, which is the largest screen that can currently be found in a truck. The tundra has reached its full maturity.

Take Away

The Tundra’s origins may be traced back to Toyota’s choice to manufacture its desired product in a market where it anticipated a high level of demand. What made the original so popular is still there in the latest Tundra: dependable V-8 muscle!

Josh Gallardo

Josh is a product enthusiast trying to help everyone fine the things they need.

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