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2015 Toyota Tundra Baja 1000

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The Toyota Tundra really needs an all-star halo truck to liven up its competent but forgettable range of full-size trucks, which are redesigned for 2014. This exclusive speculative preview of the 2015 Tundra Baja 1000 imagines how a Ford Raptor rival from Toyota would compare with the hot-selling off-roader from the segment-leading F-150 .

The Tundra reached its U.S. sales peak in 2007, when the big rig was all-new and came from its billion-dollar assembly plant right in the heart of Texas. Since then, the Tundra has struggled to even crack 100,000 units, which is a major sore spot when even the dullest Toyota sedans like the Corolla are able to rack up more than triple the total volume of the Tundra.

So what is missing from the Tundra ’s three cab styles, short and long bed options, and three engines that top out with a potent 5.7-liter V-8 making 383 horsepower? The Tundra is missing more than a few million loyal customers, first and foremost, versus the long-trenched buyers of Ram , Ford , Chevy or GMC trucks.

Even the also-ran Nissan Titan PRO-4X is trying on some new off-road hero truck ideas for next year’s all-new model. For slow-moving
Toyota ? So far, the world’s most admired car maker has only dipped its toes into the pool.

The new 1794 Edition of the Tundra packs more fake silver trims than a Nokia factory, and the Toyota Racing Development 4x4 stickers its dealers like to apply do not seem to have the same effect as the Raptor ’s unique grille, huge fender flares, Fox racing suspension and sand-basted attitude.

TRD is just about the worst acronym imaginable, so this TopSpeed preview of a Tundra off-roader is dubbed the Baja 1000.

Click past the jump to get a closer look of the 2015 Toyota Tundra Baja 1000.

Exterior

Toyota Tundra Baja 1000

The exterior makeover for this Tundra Baja 1000 preview is relatively light and very do-able by Toyota for the 2015 model year, which will reinvigorate sales after the new trucks’ first year momentum begins to slow.

Functional enhancements to the Toyota Tundra’s new styling include a solid steel racing bumper with very little lower air dam that could get caught in the rough stuff when off-roading. A tougher-looking mesh insert for the lower intake is paired with a slim piece of brightwork in the dark lower bumper.

Up in the grille, the Baja 1000 preview takes its cue from the Raptor ’s grille and written letters versus the traditional blue oval or Toyota badge in the center. The Tundra Platinum wears a graphite grey color for the grille already, but the stock truck has a busy and slatted appearance to the grille that is distracting. A slim air vent in near the leading edge of the hood is shared with the production trucks, as are the LED daytime running light accent on the lower headlamp edge.

Fender flares are a detail tweak to the Tundra’ design and are not nearly as impressive as the unique side panels worn by the Raptor in front and back.
A larger set of off-road rubber and a modest suspension lift are the final ingredients to make this hardcore factory racing machine.

2015 Toyota Tundra Baja 1000 Preview - LED and Grille Detail

Toyota Tundra Baja 1000

Interior

Toyota Tundra

The Tundra’s interior is a real selling point for previous Toyota owners, but this truck is far roomier than any T100 or Tacoma ever was. A huge and wide cabin has a flat floor with room to cross your legs comfortably, while the premium leather trim of this loaded production model seen above is certainly a big step ahead of the Nissan Titan .

Limited interior updates will be needed inside, but an adjustable traction control that is more forgiving is a mandatory requirement versus the intrusive factory safety settings.

Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes

Toyota Tundra Baja 1000

For the Baja 1000 Tundra, the top engine is the most likely candidate to keep the Toyota moving forward over quicksand, rocks and water crossings. This 5.7-liter V-8 is one of the best in any pickup truck, with a smooth and sophisticated design that allows it to purr as smoothly as a Lexus.

383 horsepower through the 4x4 chassis and standard six-speed automatic are plenty of power to stomp out a 6.3-second 0-to-60 mph sprint in the 2013 production models, so a similar time is likely on the Baja 1000 edition.

Larger tires do slow sprint pace, typically, so a power-operated airbox with closed and wide open settings would be a large asset. It will also give the Tundra Baja 1000 something that the Toyota trucks lack from the factory: exciting engine noise.

A remote-operated exhaust baffle is also popular in the Hennessey VelociRaptor , allowing drivers to have a safe and responsible setting for Sunday drives to church, or a loud and scary mode for impressing your buddies.

Pricing and Availability

Toyota Tundra

This 2015 Tundra Baja 1000 rendering and speculative preview does not have pricing or an arrival date as of yet. The standard Tundra is all new for 2014, with pricing that spans from $26,000 for the V-6 models up to $47,000 for the loaded versions with the big V-8. The new Tundra is available at Toyota dealers now.

Competition

Ford F-150 Raptor

Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Special Edition

The Raptor has a new Special Edition for 2014 that brings a new color option and dark projector beam headlights up front. These were previously part of the Raptor Luxury package, and really crank up the menace of this already-intimidating machine.

Conclusion

Toyota Tundra

The Tundra lacks road presence, a stability control system that trusts its drivers, and engine drama like the best pickups trucks out there.

The Lexus-based V-8 is almost too good at its smooth and silky mission, but a dual-mode airbox and switchable exhaust will let this solid and dependable full-size truck roar like an LF-A as it jumps the dunes and mountains of the Baja California peninsula.

LOVE IT
  • New grille is a detail change, but improves the Tundra’s looks by quite a bit
  • LED accents are classy on the top-spec 2014 Toyota Tundra
  • All the skill and desire is there to do this truck, so fingers crossed that it becomes a reality
LEAVE IT
  • Raptor has multiple unique panels and serious mechanical changes to optimize it for off-roading
  • TRD and Baja 1000 names are still not as cool as Raptor
  • A power, engine or exhaust upgrade would really help the Tundra Baja 1000 hang with the cool trucks


What is your take?

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