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Auto blogThu, 23 Oct 2014
Despite the earnest efforts of Japanese automakers like Toyota and Nissan, the American pickup truck scene remains wholly dominated by the likes of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. This is not news. Part of the reason is because of the sheer number of variants offered by US automakers - everything from work-spec base trucks to house-leveling heavy duty models can be had, with a seemingly endless combination of engines, cab sizes, bed lengths and trim levels. It's a hugely profitable business, and though the Japanese automakers still offer competitive fullsize trucks, in terms of sheer volume, they simply don't compete.
But American pickups aren't just about work; there's a huge play aspect involved, too. Look at the desert-storming Ford F-150 SVT Raptor or the Ram Power Wagon - these butch trucks are built with superb off-road prowess in mind, and Detroit's Japanese rivals have once again largely been silent in this segment. Until now.
Introduced at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota now offers the TRD Pro series of models that, in addition to the crazy-orange Tundra seen here, includes the smaller Tacoma pickup and 4Runner SUV. And this isn't just some pretty appearance package, either - there's honest-to-goodness capability baked into all of the TRD Pro models. Intriguing, for sure, so I recently spent a weekend with the big boy Tundra to see what's what.
In an apparent shot back at Ford's increasing market share of electrified vehicles and claim that it accepts more Prius trade-ins for its own hybrids than any other car, Toyota has flexed a muscle and played the numbers game to put the Blue Oval in its place.
Leaning on its hybrid market dominance in California, the Japanese automaker stated that six out of 10 hybrids sold in the Golden State are Toyota models. And it keeps coming: Year-to-date through May 2013, Toyota sold five times more hybrids than Ford. One of every two hybrids in California is a Prius model. In addition, Toyota notes that it has sold 1.5 million Prius vehicles in the US, 90-percent of which are still on the road today.
Want more? We'll let Bill Fay, Toyota's group vice president and general manager of sales lay the smack down:
Sources in Australia are reporting that we'll be seeing a small, rear-drive sedan from Toyota, based on the GT 86/Scion FR-S. Yes, a convertible variant is still in limbo, but a four-door sedan is in the works. It's unclear if the rumored GT 86 sedan would spawn Scion and Subaru variants (it's hard to cross all ten fingers while you type, but we're having a go).
Working with remarks made by the car's chief engineer Tetsuya Tada in his blog and a rendering from Japanese magazine Holiday Auto, the Australian site Motoring is claiming that the new model's wheelbase will grow about four inches over the current GT 86's 101.2-inch wheelbase.
Besides the larger overall space between the axles, the sedan will offer a more potent engine option over the current 2.0-liter, flat-four. Promising 268 horsepower, which is a big jump over the current car's 200 ponies, the new powertrain will be derived from the Hybrid R setup, shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show. If, like us, you're reaching for the salt, and we don't blame you.