Posted Oct 23rd 2014 12:00PM
Despite the earnest efforts of Japanese automakers like Toyota and Nissan, the North 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.