Wall Street Journal Writer 'Chooses' a Tundra but Misunderstands Pickups

2014_Toyota_Tundra 1 II

One of the best things about being an automotive journalist in the U.S. is that you get the opportunity to drive just about every vehicle sold here. And when you finally decide to purchase a new vehicle (which doesn't happen too soon if you decide to stay in this profession), you have access to just about every vehicle that might be on your list. However, when you can combine your search for the right vehicle — in this case a pickup truck — and a review of the eventual winner of your decision, things can get a little mottled, as seen in this most recent Tundra review in the Wall Street Journal.

In this half truck review/half journal entry, author Dan Neil (a Pulitzer Prize-winning auto writer) ventures onto the slippery slope of pickup trucks, where he is admittedly "out of his depth." But that doesn't stop him from making some pretty silly comments about truck buyers and the competitive vehicles in the segment, as well as a few misstatements about Ford F-150 sales numbers and the Society of Automotive Engineers' J2807 towing standards and requirements.

Neil even criticizes truck buyers as being irrational, stating they have to depend much too heavily on marketing strategies and ad campaigns to make their truck-buying decisions because each pickup is practically identical. Then he seems to finalize his own full-size truck purchase decision (a 2014 Toyota Tundra) on much of the same manufacturer marketing and advertising information. You've got to love a writer who admits he's irrational, even if he doesn't have to be.

The Wall Street Journal doesn't review many pickup trucks (or write many articles about the people who purchase them), so we can forgive any technical/mechanical errors or stereotyping that might occur, but to imply that Neil made a reasoned choice is not clear at all from his article.

We should note we have nothing against Neil's Tundra decision (we also think it's a good truck and sounds like it could be the right pickup for him), but we do find the decision-making process described in the article an interesting mix of a tunnel-vision vehicle review and fearless acknowledgement of Neil's limited knowledge of pickup trucks.

 

Comments

Hmm maybe a Silverado hybrid would work best for Wall St.

One auto Journalist hating on another auto journalist. I don't think its good journalism to report on on how you think another journalist is not doing his job right. You may be right in stating he has tunnel vission but this kind of reporting is just as bad.

Typical, the tundra and titan are for people who don't need a truck.

What a load of garbage. He says in his article that he is building a house. God help his contractor. If he thinks he knows as much about construction as he does about trucks, his contractor is in for a tough time.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, write about it.
(sorry Mark, present company excluded)

Mark is right. People are completely misunderstanding the Society of Automotive Engineers' J2807 towing standards and requirements and is going off of advertising. I find Tundra buyers the least knowledgeable of pickup truck owners. I'll also add that the Tundra came in last in the last shootout.

GUTS
GLORY
THE REAL WINNER OF THE WALL ST. JOURNAL AWARD
RAM

Gotta agree with joe on this one.

I disagree with nearly half of the stuff pickuptrucks.com puts in the shootouts and news articles, but it's a journalist’s opinion. For example, the 5.7 8 speed Ram 1500 should have won that last shootout (I’m not even a Ram fan), that truck performed very well and the 8 speed is “innovative” technology that pickuptrucks.com always puts emphasis on. The bias in the articles can really show, and this coming from a person that respects all trucks.

It’s obvious that Ford is preferred to the writers on this website, because other brands of trucks are ridiculed (Toyota) for not changing a darn thing but cosmetics, yet there is not one article about how the Super Duty is basically the same core truck dating back over 10 years ago with a similar frame design as the Tundra, yet there is not article talking about how crappy the Super Duty frames are…

If the Wall Street writer choose a F-150, the articles demeanor would be completely different.

so ram is putting the 5.7 with the 8 speed?

@John, good points. It should be noted that the 2015 F150 will be using the same frame design:

http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2013/11/2015-ford-f-150-to-drop-fully-boxed-frame.html

False.

@Ryan "Typical, the tundra and titan are for people who don't need a truck."

According to who? When the Titan debuted in 2004 it had the most HP, most torque, highest towing capacity and most ground clearance of any 1/2 ton on the market. Those seem like pretty big things for people who need a truck.
I'll admit they haven't made many changes recently, but it is still a very solid and reliable truck.

Actually the people who don't need a truck usually buy loaded up crew cab short beds from any brand. The Titan is very trucky in that that its very solid and doesn't have all the girly frills of some of the others more of a no nonsense truck that's very capable.

I disagree with Joe.

If somebody is writing a bunch of crap about pickup owners and getting a lot of information wrong, then they should be scolded and set straight for the good of ALL consumers. It doesn't matter if they are both journalists or not, if one knows that the other is wrong he should tell him so.

Hopefully instead of just blogging about it to us, he also took the time to send a letter to the WSJ to set the record straight.

this stuff is so laughable. i cant believe you people get your panties in a bunch about which inanimate object you buy or what others have to say about truck owners in general. if you step back and look at it from the perspective of a non brand loyalist, you will realize that marketing owns you. the moment you commit to a corporate logo, you have hemorrhaged your individuality and align yourself with a marketing department.

at the end of the day, i dont define myself or those that i identify with by the common things that we own.

@Joe.

Uhh Ford completely changed their frame in 2008 on the Super Duty, they even showed a side-by-side of the two frames, and they look completely differe... Different shaped channels and crossmembers etc, and in 2011 Ford utilized thicker gauge steel on the frame rails.

RAM on the other hand has used the same frame on their 1500 for over 10 years. If you read up on 2009 automotive articles, Ram (Dodge at the time) even stated themselves that their truck shared the same frame as it's predecessor which dates back to 2002, Dodge just changed the body and added coil springs.

That wasn't written by an automotive journalist.
It was written by a business and financial journalist and I hate to say it but his comments about truck buyers are pretty spot on.

I think he tried to demonstrate why it is that people like him who have no problem dropping $50k for a pickup with abysmal fuel economy, have a wide range to choose from and that choice will no doubt be made as an emotional response to marketing for most but on the other hand, people like me who who are looking for something affordable to buy, own and fuel have practically nothing to choose from.

Gotta agree with Joe on this one. Bad form Mr. Williams.

Let Dan Neil say what he wants. We can agree or disagree about his review. Freedom of speach !

@MaXx, Dan Neil is absolutely an automotive journalist. As his Wikipedia entry states, he's a "former staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, AutoWeek and Car and Driver. He was a panelist on 2011's short-lived The Car Show with Adam Carolla on Speed Channel, which debuted July 13, 2011."

Did anyone read the story in the WSJ? the "Automotive journalist" goes on to say the Tundra has a better frame because it has 9 cross members as apposed to 6 in the F-150? and then says something even more foolish about counting welds? If he had even the smallest amount of knowledge, of either truck, he would know the frame in the Tundra has nothing on the frame in the F-150! just because it has more cross members! I would go so far as to say it has more, because it NEEDS them more! and then we get to the "welds" anyone here knows the Tundra frame is NOT fully welded together! only parts of the front 1/3 but the rear 2/3'rds are bolted, or assembled with rivets! not fully welded, like the F-150, Chevy/GMC and Rams frames, which are also all fully boxed! But too bad, he already spent his money!, if he had really done his homework, he would have found out he could have MORE HP and MILEAGE with the 6.2 Chevy, or Ram, and Ford!!! what a sorry state the journalistic profession have fallen too!

GUTS

GLORY

TOYOTA!

I SHOULD TRADE MY RAM FOR THE SWEET A$$ TOYOTAAAA

@Kyle Rohde thank you for your comment it`s an intelligent one.

Now back on Toyota frame even with 9 cross member Tundra are known to flex frames more than other pick up that`s the reason why if you carry too much load with a Tundra the truck will age faster than a F150.

@Gom it`s not only freedom of speech but misleading readers on something Neil do not have. Truck knowledge.

@WXman
at the end of the day, i dont define myself or those that i identify with by the common things that we own.
What about toilet paper

It is also freedom of speech for Mark Williams to inform us that the WSJ is misleading its readers.

Kudos to Mark Williams.

As far as the next F150 going to a frame similar to the Tundra it makes sense to do if you want to save weight on a frame because it would be cheaper than trying some of the alternatives we hear Ford may try. I am just very skeptical about Ford doing it because the F150 fans, Mike Levine and Ford Videos highlight the fully boxed frame and have been screaming from the mountain top that frame design is not good engineering and Toyota needs to get it right on the next Tundra. So I will be a believer in that is what Ford will do with F150 when I see it.

As for the marketing thing he is kind of right as that was one of the major things against the 2nd gen Tundra but on the 3rd gen Tundra I find Toyota and most notably Mike Sweers to be the biggest offender. As an example Mr. Sweers when asked about why no powertrain changes will say we already have the best engine our competitors are OHV and just added VVT and have less valves per cylinder as you can tell he is talking about GM. Now what is saying is true but what does he not mention about GM since he made the comparison well that would be direct injection was added and if you line up each engine of the EcoTech3 vs the corresponding tundra engine: 4.0l v6 vs 4.3l v6, 4.6l v8 vs 5.3l v8 and 5.7l v8 vs 6.2l v8 the Tundra loses in hp, lb ft and FE in each comparison if you want to talk about marketing. Now that was just one example other would be a crewmax with a 6 1/2' bed or leaking rear diff option Tundra owners don't want according to him http://www.tundratalk.net/forums/tundra-q-mike-sweers/233993-mike-sweers-autoguide-com-answer-video.html.

Now for the Tundra and Super Duty having basically the same frame design well that is wrong as they are only somewhat a like in being open c in the rear but that part is still different as well. First off Tundra has a full boxed frame under the engine, reinforced rolled c-channel under the cab and open c under the bed and Super Duty is fully boxed under the engine and flat c-channel all the way back. Another thing that is different is the open c portion they both have in the rear as Tundra has a x-shaped crossmember in the rear to help resist twisting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ToyotaTundraChassis.jpg and Super Duty does not http://www.trucktrend.com/autoshows/events/112_0910_2009_state_fair_of_texas_trucks_suvs/photo_16.html. Now does that make a difference you ask well open 2 tabs and look at these 2 GM twist ditch test side by side and pause them to see which sits more level in the rear first the tundra @ 3:23 mark https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8PpZF77tgk than Super Duty 3:50 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8PpZF77tgk maybe it does.

As for a Tundra will age faster than an F150 frame if worked well that is patently false and the exact opposite. The Tndra open c- rear flexes for durability as flexing handles stress from cyclic loading and overloading better than being really stiff in which case the frame will perminently bend or break.

We might as well cover the other 2 lie before it gets started. Tundra's frame cost Toyota more than the others why because they had to design 2 different 1/2 ton frames one fully boxed for the Sequoia and the other for the Tundra.

Now the second Tundra's frame flexes on to the stiffest 1/2 ton leaf springs while the competitions frame is stiffer but the suspension squats more http://special-reports.pickuptrucks.com/2008/11/squat-test.html. Their is a difference between frame flex and suspension squatting. The problem is Super Duty has a frame that will flex but on to leaf springs that are not as stiff https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NtXNQIEHQ4. You can have your frame flex for durability but what you cannot have is your truck squatting as Toyota put strength in the leafs to prevent squatting and durability (compliance) in the frame to make it last.

@sandman4X4 And the F150 frame has nothing on the Super Duty frame, which is similar in design to Toyotas. OPPS....

I have to say after all of that I disagree with Mr. Levine I hope Ford gets the engineering right on the next fen Super Duty.

There are comments that were made by the Dan Neil that are spot on. Truck buyers ARE irrational and loyal. The fanboys and trolls on this site prove his point beyond a shadow of a doubt.
The parts he got wrong were based on assuming that slight differences on the spec sheet mean minimal differences where the rubber meets the road. He clearly doesn't understand the difference between boxed and c-channel frames.
American content matters to some just like badge only matters to some.
Reliability as outlined by JD Power is a valid metric but the Tundra dropped from the top 4 this year. Vincentric picked the F150 as the most reliable 1/2 ton for fleet and personal use this year. JD Power rated the Chevy/GM Hd's #1 + #2, Avalanche #3 and F150 #4.

The lesson for any truck buyer is that you do NOT rely on one source for your information. Read and research as much as possible.
Do various sources say the same thing?

What I am seeing here is typical of the real world: the rich criticize and disparage the poor (and vise versa), workers criticize and disparage the managers/engineers etc. and vice versa and truck guys disparage those who are not truck guys.

Actually, from what I see here in south TX the a general contractor ususlly pulls up in a new crew cab diesel, of what ever brand, and it's spotless and empty.

The guys actually doing the work are working out of a 15 year-old Ford or Chevy half tons.

James nailed it.

Good job Mark Williams.

Never has the bias on this site been so evident.

Yeah -- because I always source WSJ for their truck reviews.
That's like going to the Mad Magazine for pie recipes.

I'm glad Mark Williams is willing to call him out. Call it for what it is. You may disagree, but to me good journalism is about being honest, not politically correct or nice. I disagree with much of what Williams says in his articles, but at least I feel like he's being honest with us.

I don't think the fanboys on this site in any way represent the typical truck buyer. I think many of them probably are teenagers that don't even have a truck yet. The majority of people I know own a truck. Most are more loyal to one brand than another, but few of them are truly irrational about it and I don't think any of them are strongly affected by marketing. Of all the people I have talked to that buy trucks I can't think of anyone that doesn't at least consider all of the major truck brands and test drive each one. Sure a dodge guy is most likely to go with dodge again because it's what he's used to, it's what he likes, and he probably had a good experience with one before. So is it irrational to buy one again? No way. Do you really think a person wouldn't normally buy a truck that he honestly thinks is better than another truck for specific reasons. Ask any truck owner why he bought his truck and he will probably say "because my last ford/chevy/dodge was really great". Or "i got a really good deal". Or "it gets really good mileage." etc. To me typical truck shoppers are not irrational at all. They make decisions based on their own experiences, needs, and perceptions of quality, reliability, and value. How many truck buyers have a terrible experience with a truck and then go buy the same brand again? None that I know. And most people I know that have owned multiple trucks have owned multiple different brands, even if they do favor a particular one.

I read the article. My own decision to buy a 2011 Tundra 5.7 DC was more straightforward.

I had owned the rest. This time I wanted the best.

That's why I bought a Tundra 5.7.

Yes and the ford is over rating,,,

Wow, what more would you expect from PUTC though. Over the last 36 comments or so there is more misinformation than he could've written in three articles ranging from misinterpretations about how frames are designed and work to just plain fanboisms. I'm not going to get into it but the frame on the tundra cost 40% more to produce then fords box frame. I think Mark is mad that the guy from WSJ is able to decipher through the marketing BS spewed from the other manufacturers to actually pick the best truck

I bought what is best for myself, not a Toyota!

If the journalist from WSJ bought an F150, Mark Williams would be singing a different tune. This site is so biased. Mark gets so butt hurt if his precious F150 doesn't win all the awards.

@Joe and @MAxx Agree everyone is entitled to their opinion and yes advertising does play a major part.

I read the WSJ article and I think the author is exactly correct about the way people buy pickups. All you have to do is watch any NFL game and see an F150 ad to know that years of marketing research have convinced Ford that the way to maintain their lead is to appeal to the most idiotic segment of the population.

I wonder how many Pulitzer prizes Mark Williams or Mike Levine ever won... and how Cars.com and PUTC likely get 100% of their revenue from AUTOMOTIVE manufacturers--I am sure that doesn't have ANY bias on what they report. The WSJ probably gets 1% of its revenue from auto companies.

Oh no Dav, you busted them! If only Toyota sponsored them a little more, they wouldn't have to have their flexible frames exposed.

Some of the best reviews for vehicles I've read come from the customer reviews over at edmunds.com. Especially for long term ownership of used vehicles.

So when it's about praising a Toyota, the writer is discredited but when it's about any other pickups, it is ok?

This article is nothing but a joke! What's the differance with Motor Trends truck of the year award? It is written by the same type of journalists that no nothing but what their advertising $$$ tell them to write!

The joke is on you guys that following this baloney!

Stick to facts and not some journalists OPINION! Facts are residual value, re-sale value, reliability and repairs, etc...

STOP falling for journalists opinions even on this site!

@Dafuq: lol, the Ram frame is not the same 10 year old frame. You should wake up, it was totally redesigned for 2009. What are you smoking? Not only did it take best in IIHS head on crash testing and improve on 2008, the coil spring mounts are differant.

John: you forget to mention the SD, and Tundra are also the ONLY non fully boxed frames in any domestic truck, hell even the Titans frame is fully boxed is it not? and the Tacoma? and the Frontier? I am not sure, but what about the Hilux and others? come on now? and do not tell us about the class 5,6,7 and higher trucks being open channel, as that is a different type of vehicle, for different jobs, and the main reason for fully boxed frames is so the suspension does more work, and can be tuned for a better ride!

drove the 2010 Tundra, bouncy ride, no thanks. I just wasn't comfortable in it. They did finally change the old tunnel gauges, I wonder if a single gauge tells you EXACT anything, or just a good and bad? I like the Ram evic, tells EXACT numbers.

Still sucky mileage. Toyota drivers appearently dont care about mileage much.

Toyota is to scared to take any risk. Same old...going on 8 years.

@sandman

you still dont get it do you? still drinkin the kool-aid. no tacomas have a triple tech frame so was the ram 3500 cab and chassis and the super duty all the way up from 250's. so apparently ford seems to think the same application is correct all the way through. if a wing on a boeing 747 will flex 13 ft up and down for a total of 26FEET only 50ft away from the body while carrying a half MILLION pounds!! THANK GOD you dont design planes!



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