Toyota tests Tundra Down Under

Riley Riley

Never’s a long time in the automotive world and for Toyota’s mega ute Tundra never just became a sure thing, with news the ‘full-size’ pickup is being evaluated for conversion to right hand drive.

In 2020 Toyota told cars4starters the chances of Toyota’s larger utes making an appearance here were slim given they were manufactured only in left-hand drive.

By larger utes we mean the Tacoma and even larger Tundra which are offered in overseas markets.

To give them some context, a dual cab Hilux is 5345mm in length, while Tacoma is 5728mm and the big kahuna, Tundra — is 6289mm.

Until now Tundra has been available only through Queensland-based Performax which converts them to right-hand drive along with big utes from other manufacturers that one often sees on the road.

In recent times, however, there has been a surge of interest in these larger utes led by Ram which is imported with factory backing by Ateco Automotive.

Toyota must want a slice of action as it has just revealed an extensive development program is underway in Australia, with a view to re-engineering Tundra to right-hand drive.

With extensive experience in this type of work, Toyota has partnered with Walkinshaw Automotive Group to develop and build Tundra RHD vehicles for Australia.

Tundra will be evaluated against Australia’s “severe” local conditions and “tough” customer use.

The focus will be to ensure the finished product meets Toyota’s hallmark quality, durability and reliability, with one of the most thorough development projects undertaken for a vehicle program of this type in Australia.

After significant development in-house, prototype testing on public roads is due to begin next month.

Then, starting from the fourth quarter of 2023, Toyota will put some 300 cars on the road around Australia, as part of the final stages of the re-engineering program.

Toyota says these vehicles will not be for sale but will be monitored to see how they perform under real world conditions.

The program is expected to set a new benchmark in Australia for the re-engineering of a full-sized pick-up truck from LHD to RHD.

It 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 LandCruiser 300 platform.

The vehicles will be equipped with a new in-line hybrid system featuring a twin-turbo 3.5-litre petrol V6 which is the most advanced and fuel-efficient powertrain available for this model.

While this is an extraordinary turn of events, an Australian RHD Tundra faces further checkpoints in Toyota’s global approval process before its retail introduction can be confirmed.

Toyota’s Sean Hanley said the local company and its dealers were eagerly anticipating being part of this unique program.

“This is a dedicated re-engineering program, led by Toyota Australia and made possible by our global partners and is closely supported by our parent company and Toyota North America,” he said.

“It will utilise OE levels of design, development, testing and componentry rooted in Toyota’s deep commitment to quality, durability and reliability.

“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.

“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.”

Just quietly, we reckon the TRD version of the big ute is the pick of the bunch.

Don’t expect it to be cheap though. These full-sized trucks as they are called usually attract a three-figure price tag.


CHECKOUT: Tacoma takes it up a level


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