Hilux' big brother for the yanks

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Toyota Tundra is built in Texas, and it shows.

Imagine a Toyota Hilux bakkie built in Texas…

Well, imagine no more; say “Howdy” to the 2014 Toyota Tundra, designed by the Calty design and research centres in Newport Beach, California and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and built on a historic ranch just outside San Antonio.

The new Tundra, shown for the first time this week at the Chicago motor show, will come in three cab styles - two-door, four-door double cab and “stretched” four-door luxury Crewmax - and in five models: the entry-level SR, volume-seller SR5, Limited, Platinum and the new “1794 Edition”, named after the year in which the ranch on which the plant stands was founded.

The new front end integrates the bonnet and taller, chromed grille to visually connect the upper intake to a new three-piece bumper that not only allows the designers to mix-and-match plastic parts to differentiate between models but also makes crash damage quicker and easier to fix.

The wheel arches have been squared off for a no-nonsense, truck-like look, and the new load bed includes a tail gate with a built-in spoiler.

INDIVIDUAL INTERIOR THEMES

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Crease at the top of the tailgate functions as a spoiler.

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Each trim level has its own interior theme, while ergonomic improvements include easier driver access to controls; for instance, the reach from the driver's seat to the audio and aircon controls has been reduced by 66mm, and the knobs are big enough to be operated while wearing work gloves.

Both four-door models will be will be available with either bench or bucket front seats.

The interior of the SR5 features a “professional gear” theme, with clearly demarcated driver and passenger zones, metallic accents and contrasting fabric trim.

The Limited grade has leather upholstery and matching soft-touch stitched door and console surfaces with (fake) wood veneer trim and comes standard with climate control, while the Platinum grade is openly intended for urban cowboys with double-stitched diamond plate black leather on the seats, doors and instrument panel inserts, trimmed and accented in chrome.

Standard kit includes a 12-speaker audio system, heated and ventilated, power-adjustable front seats, satnav, parking sensors and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.

The 1794 Edition, not surprisingly, has all that plus special brown saddle-leather seating with embossed logos and fake suede trim, to match the soft-touch materials on the gear-lever console, door trims and instrument panel.

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Tundra cabin has clearly demarcated driver and passenger zones.

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THREE ENGINE OPTIONS

Tundra drivers can choose from three proven options, each carried over from the previous model, starting with a four-litre, all-aluminium DOHC V6 for which the Texans quote 205kW and 377Nm, driving the rear wheels through a conventional five-speed auto transmission.

Next up is a 4.6-litre quad-cam V8 rated at 228kW and 445Nm, while the top dog is a 5.7-litre DOHC V8 boasting 280kW and a muscular 545Nm. Both V8's can run on either petrol or E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent petrol) and drive through six-speed auto trannies.

The SR and SR5 grades will ride on 18” steel rims, while the Limited, Platinum and 1794 Edition will have 20” alloys.

Safety equipment includes eight standard airbags, antilock braking with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, electronic stability control, traction control and, most importantly for Americans, smart stop control - an override system that reduces engine revs to idle and applies the brakes whenever the brake and accelerator pedals are applied at the same time, intended to make runaway acceleration physically impossible.

The new Tundra will go on sale in North America in September 2013; sadly for us, the Texans have no plans to produce right hand-drive versions.

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Rear seats of the Crewmax cabin offer enough legroom for the tallest Texan, and their own aircon controls.

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