2007 Toyota TRD Tundra Street Concept pictured
Toyota had huge hopes for the second-generation Toyota Tundra when it launched the truck in 2007, including plans for two high-performance versions that we'll likely never see, according to sources with knowledge of the trucks.
The current 2007-10 Tundra was designed from the ground up to compete with full-size pickups from Chrysler, Ford and GM. On paper, the story was compelling. The Tundra featured a strong 5.7-liter V-8, could tow up to 10,800 pounds and was available in regular, extended-cab and crew-cab configurations. Toyota was so confident in the strength of its new truck and the American truck market that it invested more than $1 billion to build a dedicated assembly plant in Texas with the capacity to build 200,000 Tundras a year.
Nearly all of the Tundra's manufacturing and sales volume would have come from mainstream models, but Toyota's U.S. management had plans to add two halo trucks around 2009 that could have lifted the Tundra's image in the eyes of street truck and off-road enthusiasts.
The first specialty Tundra was a powerhouse track truck that would have closely resembled the Toyota TRD Tundra Street Concept. Toyota used the 2004-06 Dodge Ram SRT-10 — which could go from 0 to 60 mph in about 5 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in the 13 seconds — as its benchmark.
The single-cab hot rod Tundra would have come from the factory with today's dealer-installed TRD supercharger, boosting the 5.7-liter V-8's 381 horsepower and 401 pounds-feet of torque stock output to a phenomenal 504 hp at and 550 pounds-feet. It also would have featured a lowered suspension and unique 22x10-inch forged rear wheels (an inch wider than the TRD Street Concept's) and custom rear brakes. The wheel design has never been publicly shown.
But the really slick feature on Toyota's planned Dodge Ram SRT-10/Ford SVT Lightning fighter was something called Competition Mode. With the push of a button, the Tundra's vehicle stability control system would be temporarily fully disabled, so you could tear up the track without throttle or brake intervention and without redundant in-cabin warning beeps that tell you when you've lost traction. In comparison, today's Tundra requires three pushes of the stability control button to turn off most, but not all, electronic nannies.
The second specialty Tundra was a long-travel suspension, go-fast off-road pickup made for prerunning desert trails and washes. If that sounds like the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, it should. The two trucks would have competed head-to-head against each other. But Toyota wasn't following Ford's lead. It was coincidentally developing its Baja-style Tundra at the same time Ford was working on the Raptor.
The long-travel Tundra would have differed from the Raptor in one key aspect. Toyota planned to borrow the rear independent suspension from the full-size Toyota Sequoia SUV, which shares most of its platform with the Tundra, so it could have ditched the standard rear live axle and leaf springs. Inspiration for that idea came straight from Toyota's experience sponsoring legendary Baja off-road racer Ivan "the Ironman" Stewart.
Before either Tundra could receive approval, the bottom fell out of the U.S. auto industry as fuel prices spiked and the housing market and economy crumbled. The Tundra came close to meeting its annual sales goals in the first year but has missed badly each year since, suffering from the effects of both the economy and high-profile quality and safety issues. Along with the loss in sales was a loss in confidence that killed both special models for the foreseeable future.