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Chicago Auto Show: Windy City gets look at new Toyota Tundra

Published February 8, 2013

The Chicago Auto Show is everything the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto wants to be: A million square feet of display space all on one floor, and a thousand vehicles shown off to an enthusiastic public.

Apparently, 27 per cent of local residents attend the show, and car purchases spike 10 per cent more than the rest of the United States in the month following.

It’s also the longest running North American auto show, since 1901, and although Detroit still gets most of the major debuts, there are some interesting vehicles to see here.

Recap: Hot new cars unveiled at Chicago Auto Show

This year, the Detroit makers used their local show last month as a cheerfest for pickup trucks, with the new Chevy Silverado on display, the RAM 1500 named as North American Truck of the Year, and the Ford Atlas concept heralding the next generation of F-150.

So Toyota waited until this huge Chicago show to present the next generation of its full-size Tundra pickup, built in Texas and looking for a bigger share of the million-plus selling U.S. half-tonne pickup market.

This is the first major change for the Tundra since it was introduced in 2007 and Toyota is proud of its domestic content, with 80 per cent of the truck sourced in North America. There will be five different editions, each quite separate in their approach rather than just stepping up the options with each level, and each denoted with a special grille.

There will be two engines offered in Canada when the Tundra comes on sale in the fall: A 4.6L V8 that makes 310 hp and 327 lbs.-ft of torque, and a 5.7L V8 that makes 381 hp and 401 lbs.-ft. The base 4L V6 offered here in the U.S. will not come north of the border.

There will also be three different cab styles of two-door Regular Cab and four-door Double Cab available as 4×2 and 4×4, as well as a larger four-door 4×4 Crew Max.

The Tundra’s selling point will be both practicality and premium comfort, says Toyota vice-president Bill Fay, who showed off the new truck on stage here. The front bumper, for example, is now a three-piece unit so that it’s cheaper and easier to fix if damaged.

While the Tundra is rugged, it’s inside the cab that the pickup is most noticeably different. Eight airbags, including knee airbags, are provided, and the driver is assisted by stability and traction control, as well as Brake Assist and Smart Stop brake override ability.

Pricing won’t be announced until the fall, but there will be a base model for those who don’t want to pay for more than they have to. Toyota expects its best seller to be the next grade up though, the SR5, which has separate driver and passenger zones and premium surface treatments.

Above that is the Limited grade, with black and graphite leather-trimmed interiors, then the fancier Platinum grade for “an upscale yet urban feel”—Toyota wants to aim the Tundra at more than just construction workers but at urban cowboys, too.

Perhaps those buyers will gravitate to the 1794 edition, with a western theme and saddle-brown leather, named after the founding date of the ranch on the site of the San Antonio plant where the Tundra is built.

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