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Toyota has revealed the third-generation Tundra in the US, and while the full-size pick-up might not end up being sold in Australia, it does gives us a very good idea of what to expect from the ninth-generation HiLux mid-size ute due around 2023.
In fact, the LandCruiser 300 Series plays a pivotal role in this lineage, as it was the first Toyota model to use the new TNGA-F body-on-frame platform, with the Tundra having now followed in its tyre tracks, while the HiLux is expected to do so, too.
Critically, the LC300 and Tundra have a 3.5-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 engine in common, with the former’s developing 305kW/650Nm, and the latter’s producing 290kW/649Nm. This, of course, suggests the HiLux could go down a similar path.
Where the Tundra really separates itself from the LC300, though, is with its parallel hybrid version of the unit, dubbed i-Force Max, which ups the ante to 326kW/790Nm thanks to a motor-generator with a clutch that’s located within the bell housing between the engine and 10-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.
Both the HiLux and LC300 could get the electrified powertrain (with a nickel-metal hydride batter) in the future, with both models having been earmarked for a hybrid option in the past, so it stands to reason that this is the one in question. Of course, time will tell.
Of note, the Tundra isn’t available with a turbo-diesel engine, but the LC300 is, with its 227kW/700Nm 3.3-litre V6 unit all but confirmed for the HiLux – potentially only in its eagerly anticipated GR performance flagship – but we digress.
The Tundra drops plenty of other hints, too, with it debuting Toyota’s new ‘tough truck’ exterior design language, which will presumably be used by the HiLux, albeit with a unique twist or two.
Inside, the Tundra takes Toyota into the future with the available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 14.0-inch touchscreen powered by an all-new multimedia system with over-the-air updates, always-on natural voice control and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.
Interestingly, the Tundra features multi-link rear suspension with standard coil or optional air springs, which would represent a dramatic departure from the HiLux’s current leaf-sprung set-up – if carried across. Of course, the former’s braked towing capacity is 5443kg, and its maximum payload is 880kg.
The Tundra TRD Pro is fitted with 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks, among other off-road-ready upgrades, with something similar – including the available adaptive dampers –potentially set for the GR HiLux.
Either way, expect the Tundra’s expanded suite of advanced driver-assist systems to be offered in the HiLux, including intersection assist for the autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system, and Rear Seat Reminder.
Unlike the LC300 and HiLux, the Tundra will continue to not be built in right-hand drive (RHD) at the San Antonio factory in Texas, ruling out an official launch by Toyota Australia indefinitely.
Speaking to CarsGuide, a company spokesperson said: “Toyota Australia has seen the popularity of the full-size pick-up segment in Australia grow in the past few years, and it is a segment that has been of interest to us and to our customers.
“There are currently no plans for the new model Tundra to be produced in RHD from the factory. However, this is something that we will continue to study.”
Needless to say, the locally remanufactured Ram 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado will continue to rule the roost for now, but that’s not to say the Tundra won’t make its presence felt here in some way – we’re looking at you, HiLux. Stay tuned.