Last year, Senior Editor Dan Cohen and I were introduced to the new 2014 Toyota Tundra fullsize pickup in separate launch events, his in an eastern state and mine out west. In his review, Dan began a conversation related to consumers who buy trucks out of necessity, but here in the Lone Star State, many are purchased merely for want.
Texas is the No. 1 pickup market in the world, and fullsize half-ton pickups are commonplace. It is divided into seven geographical regions and takes nearly a full day to drive across. A great deal of the state is still devoted to ranching and agriculture, but there are modern industries booming here; Toyota has even built its pickup plant deep in the heart of Texas in San Antonio. Pickup trucks are big here in the state that boasts “everything is bigger in Texas.”
Consumers still purchase a significant number of cars, sport utilities and crossovers here, but pickups are everywhere. Since the boom of four-door trucks in the late 90s they have become the new “family truckster.”
Toyota recently followed up the 2014 Toyota Tundra launch program with a review pickup for a week, and this tester arrived in top-of-the-line Platinum 4×2 format. Personally I was hoping for the 1794 Texas Ranch version, but it was not available. The Platinum interior is fancy with diamond tuck making a big comeback apparently.
So can a person live day-to-day driving nothing more than a fullsize pickup? In Texas (and many, many other states I am sure) you can. Driving in traffic is a breeze, and folks seem to respect a larger truck more when “competing” for lane space. Parking lots are no trouble as the new Tundra features a very good power steering system with a tight turning radius.
I recommend pickup buyers having their trucks outfitted with some type of running board to assist occupants in ingress/egress, but I was content to hop up in and out of the black beauty Toyota brought us. A word of caution for parents who drive four-door pickups with the larger rear doors such as our CrewMax tester: make sure you remind your kids to watch the other cars around when parking, as these doors are so big — and they open nice and wide — that they can cause quite the door ding to any vehicle nearby.
Pickups are a way of life for so many Texans, and they have been for generations, so many have adapted to this lifestyle and the challenges sometimes found. You will find you are suddenly popular with friends and family every time furniture is needed moving or junk hauled off.
Dan mentioned the lack of technology tradeoff for those moving to a modern pickup as manufacturers have seen fit to include all their latest goodies be it entertainment, app suite access, navigation or safety technologies. Seats are heated and ventilated, and rear seat occupants can be entertained with DVD systems.
Powertrains are getting more sophisticated, but many truck buyers still yearn for a good old gas V-8 and that is the bulk of 2014 Toyota Tundra buyers, despite the truck maker offering a V-6 in its trucks as well. Gasoline prices run about 10 cents cheaper than the national average here in Texas, so for many that makes the truck choice easier and for others new options such as turbocharged V-6s and diesel engines have become available (although not from Toyota…yet).
Pickup prices are not cheap, and manufacturers are pushing model lines upwards away from entry-level, bare bones work models to such trim packages such as our 2014 Toyota Tundra Platinum tester that starts at 44 grand with this model arriving at $48,475. Buyers get a lot of content for their dollar in these new trucks that now feature amenities once reserved only for luxury car brands.
For many, pickups are an occupational purchase decision, but for so many more it is a lifestyle – a big honkin’ comfortable lifestyle.