Toyota Tundra Truck Set To Hit Australia

Toyota's super-sized American-made Tundra pickup might be the HiLux alternative Aussies have been craving.

Toyota Tundra Truck Set To Hit Australia

The Toyota HiLux has long been Australia’s best-selling ute – but have you ever wished that the Hilux was a bit bigger and could tow a little more? Well, you’re in luck, as Toyota’s revealed plans to bring the Tundra full-size pickup truck Down Under.

Toyota has sold many different utes in Australia over the years, from the entertainingly-named Toyota Stout and ute versions of the Crown sedan to trayback variants of the venerable 70 Series LandCruiser. But it’s the HiLux that has proven to be the most enduring success for the Japanese brand in Australia.

The legendarily tough ute isn’t just Toyota’s best-selling model in Australia, but it’s been the best-selling car bar none in the country since 2016 – a testament to Toyota’s sterling reputation for reliability.

Yet one area in which the HiLux has always fallen short compared to its rivals, such as the Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max, is towing capacity. On a less practical note, the HiLux lacks the same sort of ‘cool factor’ that the Ranger, the HiLux’s biggest competitor, has in spades.

Perhaps that’s why Toyota wants to bring the super-capable and super-sized Tundra Down Under, announcing they’re teaming up with Walkinshaw Automotive Group for Tundra to re-engineer the truck in right-hand drive (RHD) and evaluate the vehicle against Australia’s severe local conditions and tough customer use.

The Tundra can tow a total payload of over 5,000kg – much more than the HiLux’s 3,500kg. Image: Toyota

Unlike the HiLux, which is mostly manufactured in right-hand drive countries like India, South Africa and Thailand, the Tundra is exclusively made in San Antonio, Texas, and predominately for the North American market. Toyota says this partnership to bring the big American truck here will represent one of the most thorough development projects undertaken for a vehicle program of this type in Australia.

Walkinshaw, which is the parent company of the old Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) operation, is one of the most experienced RHD re-engineering outfits in Australia. When Holden shut down, HSV rebranded as General Motors Special Vehicles (GMSV), which now imports and converts the Chevrolet Silverado truck and Corvette sports car to RHD.

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In a press release this morning, Toyota Australia has confirmed that prototype testing on public roads will begin in September later this year. Then, from Q4 2023, Toyota will deploy approximately 300 of its cars all around the country as part of the final stage of the RHD re-engineering program, to get a handle on Australia’s diverse and challenging driving conditions.

The re-engineering process will include the adoption of key components from Toyota’s comprehensive global parts catalogue, including the steering column and rack, accelerator, brake pedals and shift lever from the new 300 Series LandCruiser, Toyota Australia confirms.

They’ve also stated that these Australia-bound Tundras will be powered by a single twin-turbo 3.5L petrol hybrid V6 engine – which all but confirms that only higher spec levels of the Tundra such as Platinum, TRD Pro and Capstone will be offered here.

The Tundra’s cavernous interior is much more luxurious than the current HiLux’s, too. Image: Toyota

While this is all very exciting, it doesn’t mean that RHD Tundras for Australia are a totally done deal, with Toyota Australia flagging there are further checkpoints in Toyota’s global approval process before its retail introduction can be confirmed.

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“This project shows just how serious we are at Toyota about quality, and a RHD Tundra will not be available for sale in Australia, until we are totally satisfied,” Toyota Australia Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Franchise Operations Sean Hanley says.

“We are really excited to get such a significant project to this stage, and look forward to seeing development prototypes on our roads and test tracks in the weeks and months ahead.”

Sean Hanley

It’s also worth pointing out that while the most expensive HiLux currently offered in Australia will set you back less than AU$70,000, any Tundra is likely to retail for well over AU$100,000 here, just like other similarly imported RHD-engineered utes.

If the Tundra project does come to fruition, it’ll join the ranks of an increasingly large number of American-made full-size pickup trucks being sold in Australia, including the aforementioned Silverado as well as the Ford F-Series, GMC Sierra, Dodge RAM and Nissan Titan.

The real question is this: will the Tundra cannibalise HiLux sales, or attract a completely new set of buyers? We’ll have to wait and see… 

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