When it comes to its truck and body-on-frame SUV lineup, Toyota has been content with leaving well enough alone. Its offerings are good, but they haven’t really innovated anything in some time. The automaker is looking to change that in the next few years.
Speaking to Automotive News at the State Fair of Texas, Toyota group vice president of marketing Ed Laukes said the company has updates for its body-on-frame vehicles in the pipeline.
“We are working on [updates to our body-on-frame platforms] right now,” Laukes told AN. “To continue to be able to address that, we have to work on upgrades. Let’s face it, the competition is getting stronger and stronger. Things like the [Ford] Ranger coming back. We have to be able to address that. Now, the Tacoma was completely redone. But 4Runner, Sequoia, Tundra…those are being worked on as we speak.”
In addition to a redesigned exterior and interior, the 2016 Toyota Tacoma received a new 3.5-liter V-6 engine option, a new six-speed automatic transmission, and more high-strength steel in its frame to increase rigidity and lower weight. The Tundra received a major refresh for the 2014 model year and gets another minor one for 2018, but the updates are mostly cosmetic. The 4Runner received a refresh in 2013, but its chassis and engine date back to 2009. The Sequoia gets a refresh for 2018, but is essentially the same full-size SUV it was when it debuted for the 2008 model year.
Laukes also wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a hybrid pickup.
“There’s absolutely no reason we couldn’t have a hybrid truck,” he said. “All those options, we’re exploring. When you’re trying to raise [corporate average fuel economy] limits for the entire brand, there’s no option that isn’t on the table.”
He didn’t say which truck might get a hybrid variant, but did say the Tacoma would be getting powertrain upgrades in order to stay competitive.
“We’re going to continue to work on all the improvements that are going to be necessary to keep Tacoma at the top of the class. So powertrains are obviously a big piece of anyone’s equation as we work on CAFE standards.”